This year when I decided to head to my hometown for Thanksgiving I knew I wanted to take the opportunity to also run a Turkey Trot while I was there. Most of the races I usually do are local and tend to be smaller, this was a chance to participate in a much bigger event. Once I had made my decision to spend the holidays with my mom and brothers in Rochester I began looking for Turkey Trot races that were nearby. I immediately found the Webster Turkey Trot. This race offered two distances; 2.5 miles or 4.4 miles. Both were the same price and only running for 2.5 miles seemed silly to me so 4.4 it was.
The morning of the race I was up at 7am. I ate some breakfast at my mom’s, packed a cup of coffee, a banana and a protein bar for the road. I had to be parked at the shuttle parking lot by 8:30 am before the roads closed for the race. I left a bit early so I had extra time to find the right parking lot. It was a quick 15 minute drive from my mom’s to the shuttle bus. I parked the car, put my race bib on my jacket, changed into my sneakers, got my headphones, put on my hat, etc. and then got on the shuttle bus. It was about a 10 minute drive from the parking lot to the park where the race was being held. We arrived at the park around 9 am. The race was scheduled to start at 10 am for the 4.4 mile race. I headed towards the building I saw in the distance with plans to wait inside for the next hour. Well, lo and behold, racers weren’t allowed inside! That’s me (grey hat, blue coat) outside of the building in the local paper the next day. It was 14° F and blowing snow that morning!
I was not willing to stand outside in the frigid weather for close to an hour while waiting for the race to start so I headed for the small building I assumed housed the bathrooms. While not the greatest place to spend 45 minutes, at least it was warm! Unbelievably, no one else hung out in there.
With about 15 minutes left before the race was set to start I headed towards the start line. I had been inside for so long that once I left my warm spot I was shocked at how many people there were! There was a total of 5872 runners registered for the race this morning.
The start line was at the top of a hill. I made my way up and was able to sneak in just behind the blow up start arch so was towards the front of the pack when the race began. This was the biggest race I’ve ever been a part of and I was shocked at how congested it was, even at the front! There was no room to run past anyone, not even up on the shoulders of the road, due to the number of spectators.
While the congestion stayed fairly consistent for most of the race, it did thin out enough to pass people about one mile into the race. My goal was to finish the race around 36 minutes, but I had my doubts when I realized how hard it was to pass people and maintain a steady pace. I made it to the one mile marker at a pace of 8:47 minutes per mile. I picked up the pace a bit and made my way around some other runners. I used my typical strategy of picking out runners ahead of me and trying to pass them. The race was on all closed roads around the park and the shoulders were packed with spectators cheering everyone on, it was really cool.
I passed the mile two marker at a pace of 8:10 minutes per mile, I was pleased and kept the pace going the best that I could. It was around this point in the race that the 2.5 mile runners merged with those of us running 4.4 miles. This of course increased the congestion immensely. There were lots of younger runners and families doing the shorter distance making it difficult to pass anyone. The shorter distance runners had started 10 minutes behind us, but around mile one they had made a turn where the longer distance runners had stayed straight.
About another half mile later the shorter distance runners took a right where the longer distance runners took a left and once again I was able to pass people. My pace for mile 3 had slowed down to just shy of 9 minutes per mile. I knew I had to pick up the pace if I wanted to make my goal. I passed the mile four marker and suddenly we had to make a turn off the road right into the woods!
We were back at the park and the last 3/4 mile was on grass, going downhill. Several hundred runners had already finished and the downhill grass section was icy and slick. I came to an abrupt halt and had to slowly navigate my way down. Tons of runners were trying to fit on this very narrow portion of the race and the going was tough. Once at the bottom of the hill there was a wooden bridge that went across a small creek. It was only about three runners wide and covered in ice. I made my way across as quickly as possible. Once on the other side it was a wide open field to the finish. I saw the clock, it read 35:40, I sprinted to the finish in order to meet my goal time.
My official time was 35:49 minutes, I made my goal! I was very pleased with the results considering how hard it had been to pass anyone during this race. I was glad I had started at the front and not gotten trapped behind thousands of runners. In my age group (35-39) I finished 17th out of 141 women. Out of 2466 runners who ran the 4.4 mile race, I finished 516th.
After the race I quickly grabbed a bottle of water and a banana and got in line to catch the shuttle bus back to my car.
Did you run a Turkey Trot this year?