Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Like the Masters, the Turkey Trot is a tradition like no other. Okay…That’s probably a pretty big exaggeration, but the Turkey Trot holds a great deal of sentimental value for me.
If you have ever seen the award-winning documentary “I Am a Runner” (and let’s face it, who hasn’t seen it by now), you know that this is the race that spring-boarded my running career. Although a 5K is for the most part beneath me in terms of distance, I always have a place in my heart (and my racing calendar) for this run.
Since 1996, the routine has been the same: Doug picks me up at my house; we compete in the race, go back to his house and visit with his family, and make our way back to my house. As the years have rolled on, we have picked up other runners along the way, most notably Doug’s two daughters Britney and Brooke as well as my daughter Rachel. This year, my good friend Cyndy from Jacksonville decided to run with us. Doug has experienced some medical issues over the years, and this is the only race he enters. It’s a shame, since he was way faster than me, but now he is just a shell of the runner he once was. Despite his physical issues, his enthusiasm for this race never dampers.
With the Palm Beach Marathon looming on December 4th, this race came at a perfect time. Since I am tapering off before the marathon, my running schedule had me do seven miles Wednesday, the Turkey Trot on Thursday, five miles on Friday, and an always exciting eleven mile run with the Ocala Turtles on Saturday. With over 1,500 participants, this race is always well attended. As the gun sounded, I wasn’t really sure how I was going to attack this run. Because the race is so short, you have no room for slacking if you want to PR. I had a pretty good pace in the beginning, but I’ve gone out quicker in previous races. I did have a negative split, which made me very happy. As I crossed the finish line, I was 45 seconds off my targeted goal. This may not seem like much, but it’s an eternity in a 5K.
Doug told me that he was within 30 feet of me in the last mile, but then felt like he was carrying a refrigerator on his back. It was sad for me to hear that, and reminded me how fortunate I am to not have any serious physical ailments.
As Cyndy and Rachel crossed the finish line, we grabbed a bagel and bottle of water and make our way to Doug’s house.
Let the festivities begin!
KEEP TRACK OF MY RUNNING ON
Monday, November 21, 2011
This is a race that I don’t always have the pleasure of participating in on a regular basis. It is typically scheduled right after the Florida/Georgia game (Halloween weekend) or Homecoming weekend. Since the Gators game was a noon kickoff, we drove home after the game with plenty of time to get some good quality sleep before the 6:30 am start time on Sunday.
This race takes place in Spanish River Park, which has been discussed in previous blog posts. It was the end of Daylight Savings Time, so I was able to cop an extra hour of sleep. Of course I had to screw up my alarm clock, but lucky for me, I set the alarm on my cell phone as a backup. I parked in my usual spot, only to find out that they moved the check-in table to a new location. In addition, I totally forgot to bring my water bottle. Fortunately, I brought a bottle of Gatorade with me, which fit into my running belt. As I made my way back to the car to put in my contact lenses, it started to pour big-time! Then, I had major issues putting in one of my contacts. Can you tell the morning was shaping up just peachy keen?
With all of the pre-race festivities now out of the way, it was finally time to run. Since this race takes place right on the beach in Boca Raton, you can always count on some extra wind. Today was no exception, especially with the rain coming down intermittently. I got off to a very fast start, and it only rained for the first two miles or so. It had been a while since I’ve entered a race of this length, and it felt great to be back on the circuit.
I could tell I was going to PR this race, but then the bottom dropped out a little bit at the end. I started to get winded during the last three miles of the race, which caused me to lose some time; the wind gusting in my face didn’t help matters either. They had changed the course a bit, so you actually run through the park itself more than in the past. I don’t know if this race was a PR or not, but it was still one of my better times in a half marathon. I was happy to see that all of the extra training I’ve been doing this year is paying off.
The real test will be December 4th…The Palm Beach Marathon.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Although it is technically not a race, Gator Gallop is without a doubt one of my favorite runs to participate in. Not because of the distance (it’s only two miles) and not because of the course (it goes down University Avenue). The excitement is the kickoff to homecoming weekend at the University of Florida.
The weekend starts on Friday morning with the traditional homecoming parade. The parade starts at 11:30 am, with Gator Gallop leading the way before the floats come through. Later that evening is Gator Growl, which is the largest student produced pep rally. If that weren’t enough, the weekend concludes on Saturday with the football game (although this year is not the best of times).
We typically drive up Thursday night and make our way to our “spot,” which is right in front of Leonardo’s around 10 am. When I got up in the morning, I was surprised to see the temperature was a brisk 43 degrees. No worries; I brought a long sleeve shirt and a jacket to run in. Lindsey’s roommate Marisa and her friend Hannah decided to run with me, so we picked up the whole clan at her apartment.
The race…I mean run (old habits are hard to break) begins in front of Percy Beard Track, which is about one mile from Leonardo’s. As the three of us made our way to the start, the crowd was already out in full force. All the schools in Gainesville close for homecoming, and parents love to bring their kids to the event. We picked up our shirts and bibs, and did some pre-race stretching. There are about 1,500 people who enter the run, including parents pushing strollers, skaters and lots of walkers. There is no real official timing of this run, but they do give a modest cash prize to the person who finishes first (not me). Since I don’t typically run a distance this short, my only measuring stick to set a PR is the Gator Gallops I have run in previous years.
As the run starts, it’s very cool seeing all the ACRs (Alachua County Residents) lined up in the street. They are very enthusiastic in cheering everyone on. I was a little sore at first from my eleven mile run on Wednesday, but there is no time to relax when you’re only running two miles. When I got to Glenda and Lindsey, I had loosened up and was ready to take it home. I had Lindsey shoot some video of me running instead of taking still pictures. I crossed the finish line strong, setting a new PR and ready to sit for two hours as the parade was starting.
The only thing missing was my daughter Rachel, who was at a convention this year.
KEEP TRACK OF MY RUNNING ON