2016 Alexandria Turkey Trot 5 Miler

2016 Alexandria Turkey Trot Banner

Scroll all the way down to the end of the post for the tl;dr version.

Prologue

I ran the 2016 New York City Marathon two weeks ago.  I took the next 6 days off and then eased back into running.  I also started seeing a chiropractor to work on the pain I’ve been having in my piriformis.  I started running regularly again on Monday with some early 6 to 8 milers.

This would be my 11th consecutive running of the Alexandria Turkey Trot 5 Miler.  (I also ran it in 2004 and 1999.)  I lived in Del Ray, where the race takes place, from 1994 until 2000.  It’s also where I lived when I started running regularly, so this race is sentimental for me.


Goals

Personal Records:

Achievable: Sub-40:00 (8:00 pace).  I haven’t been training much but thought I could run a little faster than my recent easy runs.  Before race morning, I didn’t even allow myself to think about running faster.

Strategy:  Run by feel.


Course

The race is in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia.  It starts next to George Washington Middle School on Mount Vernon Avenue.  It goes north for almost a mile and then heads south on Commonwealth Avenue.  After a couple of loops through neighborhood streets, the course goes back up Commonwealth and down Mount Vernon.  The course is completely flat with a water stop at mile 3.  There are spots of fairly enthusiastic crowd support.

ATT Course


Playlist

I ran with music but didn’t create a special playlist for the race.


Pre-Race

Race Day

I woke up at 6am.  I felt pretty good!  My Garmin said I got over 8 hours of sleep!  I went downstairs to my kitchen to make coffee and realized – I’m out!  “How could I let this happen?”  I put on some sweats and walked to the Starbucks…  Closed!  I went back, got in my car, and went to the ever reliable 7-11 a few blocks away.

Back home, getting dressed for the race, I felt less good despite the caffeine.  “I have no business running a race today,” I thought.  But, there was no going back since I pre-registered.  I left my house a little before 8am.

Driving through the Del Ray neighborhood, I reminisced about my early running days when I ran from telephone pole to telephone pole until I was finally able to run 2 miles at a time!  I could still remember my first 10 miler and how proud I felt.  I didn’t want to get blocked in by the street closures so I parked a little further than usual.  I walked to the start, still in my sweat clothes, to pick up my bib.

I got in line for my bib a little after 8:20am.  By 8:35am, I was still in line!  I was trying to keep my impatience and anxiety in check but it was hard when all the other lines were moving faster.  At 8:40, I knew I wouldn’t have time to go back to my car and stripped off my sweats.  I contemplated bagging the race altogether, but since I have an 11 year streak going, I didn’t want to miss the race entirely.  I finally got my bib at 8:45am.  I threw my back-pack in a corner and headed outside.

I started my warm-up at 8:49am.  I only ran a half mile and lined up maybe 7 or 8 rows back.  Race time arrived but…  Nothing.  A few minutes later, someone next to me said, “Go!” and that was how I knew the race had started!  I don’t think there were any remarks or the National Anthem.


Weather

There was a chance of rain in the forecast.  On race morning, I noticed the ground was a little wet but by race time, the weather were pretty good – high 40s with no wind.

2016 Alexandria Turkey Trot Weather

2016 Alexandria Turkey Trot Weather


The Race

Running up Mount Vernon Avenue, I felt like I was flying!  As expected, there were a lot of runners who started too close, the worst being a man, woman, and child holding hands while running in the middle of the road.  The crowds were a little thinner than usual.  After a quick stretch on Uhle Street the course went onto Commonwealth Avenue.  I hit the 1 mile mark and was surprised my pace was 7:00.  I really thought I was running faster.

I tried to settle into a good rhythm.  I felt something next to my feet.  I noticed a guy running with the tiniest dog I ever saw – an Italian Greyhound?  It didn’t seem to know quite what to do.  I moved over to avoid tripping on it.  Otherwise, navigating runners seemed easier this year than others.  There wasn’t a lot of weaving.  We took a right onto Chapman Street and passed the 2 mile marker.

On Russell road, I expected congestion in the gutter, but other runners were running wide.  After a block the course turned right on Linden Street and went slightly downhill.  I thought I’d feel the urge to run faster but instead, I wanted to cruise for a while longer.  Next up was a quick left on Mount Vernon Avenue and another left on Maple Street.  I noticed another guy running with a dog but his pet was clearly used to running with other people.

The course turned right onto Commonwealth again and we were 3 miles into the race.  We passed the only water stop.  I ran through it since it wasn’t that warm a day.  I looked at the runners on the left and there were a lot of people dressed up in Thanksgiving-themed outfits – turkeys, pilgrims, etc.  The crowds were thickest in this section.  After passing Monroe, the crowds thinned a little.

The course turned right on Oxford Street and hit the 4 mile mark.  We were only on it for a block and then we were back on Mount Vernon Avenue.  There was a woman in front of me in the same shirt!  I tried very hard to catch her.  I was only a few strides away for the entire stretch of the avenue!

Then, another woman was running right off my shoulder.  I would surge and hold her off but she kept coming.  I was afraid of her passing and then her cutting me off and slowing down, so I kept holder her off.  But in the parking lot leading to the finish line, she passed me and I let her go for good.  I wasn’t even the fastest finisher in this shirt!

Splits (by course): 7:00, 7:10, 7:19, 7:26, 7:18.


Post-Race

I grabbed my bag from the corner in the school gym where I dropped it and jogged to my car.  I ran a cool-down back to my car.  My legs actually felt pretty good.

I grabbed my bag from the corner in the school gym where I dropped it and jogged to my car.  I ran a cool-down back to my car.  My legs actually felt pretty good.

Once I got home, I felt an intense, sharp pain in my right hip and lower back every time I even remotely bent down!  It was so painful that I cancelled one of my Thanksgiving Day meet-ups.  I stretched for about 10 minutes and then rested on the couch for a few hours before heading out for Thanksgiving dinner.  I was so achy that I asked the hostess for Ibuprofen.  Thankfully, I felt better the next day.


Result

My time was 36:18 (7:16 pace).  [Log Details].  I was 227th finisher overall, 55rd woman, 7th female master, and 4th in my age group.


Epilogue

The race was pretty slow for me, but considering how little running I’ve done since the New York City Marathon, I’m not disappointed.

Over the next month, I’ll gradually build my mileage back up to 50-60 miles/week while continuing my chiropractic treatments.  I’ll start training for the 2017 Eugene Marathon by the end of the year or beginning of January 1st.

Next race: Jingle All the Way 15K on December 4th?  I’m still not committed to racing again next weekend but I’m open to the idea.  (My Complete Racing Schedule.)


Abridged Version

This was my 11th consecutive running of the Alexandria Turkey Trot 5 Miler.  I finished in 36:18 (7:16 pace).  It was slow for me but not bad considering I took a week off after the New York City Marathon and just started running regularly again this week.  During the race, the pace felt labored from the beginning and my hips were so sore that I never felt completely comfortable.  I lived in Del Ray when I started running, so it was great driving and running these streets and thinking about how far I’ve come since those early days!

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