Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot Half Marathon

A few weeks ago we discovered that there was a half marathon on Thanksgiving Day just a 10 minute drive from our friend's house in San Jose and since we were going to be spending the day there anyway it seemed too good a chance to we signed up for it.

As with all these things they seem like a good idea at the time....but not when the alarm clock goes off in the middle of the night.  We left the house at 7am and headed for Hellyer Park and the Turkey Trot Half Marathon. Unfortunately the virus I picked up at the weekend had not gone away as hoped, the sore throat had returned overnight on Tuesday and I was feeling pretty wiped out, so I did the sensible thing........and raced anyway. 

It was a lovely sunny morning, just a bit on the cool side that early in the morning, but unimaginably warm compared with a late November morning in England.  First stop was finding the closest free parking (we could then feel smug watching the less savvy locals circling the $6 a day car park desperately seeking a space to park) and then walking over to the number pick up.  We got there just in time to hear the announcement that due to a power cut all the toilets in the park were locked because the flushes apparently need electric to work.......400 plus nervous runners and no toilets, every race organisers worst nightmare! Fortunately our route back to the car to drop off our excess clothing passed through another part of the park where there were a couple of porta loos......which we found ahead of the other 398 people who all appeared to be queuing for them a bit later on.  We may be country bumpkins from Dorset but we were way ahead of the local city dwellers and the race hadn't yet begun!

We were expecting the race start to be delayed due to the toilet dilemma but it was actually very prompt. The half marathon and 10k started together with the 5k getting under way 10 minutes later.  So at 8am sharp we were off on the mile loop of the picturesque lake before heading out on the Coyote Creek Trail for the rest of the course, which was a straightforward out and back. We weren't sure what the standard was going to be as this is only the second year the race has been held but our suspicion that it would not be very high proved correct. 

I had set my watch for 6.50 pace which is slower than my normal half marathon pace but I was being realistic about the sort of shape I'm in after 6 weeks of no regular training, too much food and alcohol and on top of that a virus (I had my excuses firmly in place).  The usual race start adrenalin rush made it feel easy for the first mile but unfortunately that didn't last for long and it soon started to feel like hard work.  After 4 miles I really just wanted to stop and lie down at the side of the trail but since that wasn't an option I gritted my teeth and resigned myself to another hour at least of feeling horrible!  It was made slightly harder by not feeling like a race, after the initial jockeying for places, I could see one person ahead of me on the straight parts of the trail but otherwise I could have been out for a morning run on my own.

At least I knew I was ahead of all the other female competition and the going was fairly easy.  There were a few undulations, the odd dip in the path and bridge crossing but on the whole it was a flat course and I was just about managing to hang on to the target pace.  As I neared the turn around point I started to meet the leaders coming back and started counting to see how Martin was doing.  It was fantastic to see him neck and neck with another runner in joint third place and looking comfortable.  The turn around was just across a foot bridge over the creek and I was 8th overall at that stage.  I had meant to take note of the time to see how far ahead I was of the next female when I passed her on the way back....but naturally I completely forgot!

There were about 3 or 4 women fairly close together and I spent the rest of the race expecting one of them to catch me up.  I pushed really hard to try and stay on the pace and I managed it until the 9 mile mark but after that I gradually dropped off and found myself working harder to run slower. Towards the end I started to pass the back markers in the 10k race, mostly walking, and I knew how they felt!  I had risked a couple of nervous glances over my shoulder and knew that there was one other runner behind me - male - and as I reached the point where the path split and headed back past the lake to the finish he overtook me dropping me down into 9th place.  Martin was waiting here too and said that I was second lady which gave me a bit of a jolt, I knew I was first unless someone had cheated..........but I tried to put it out of my head because I could see the clock ahead and I still had a chance to get across that line under 1.30.  Somehow I managed to find an injection of speed from somewhere and just made it....1.29.59!!  My worst half marathon time since 2009....

Martin had done really well and finished in 3rd place overall and a great time of 1.25.39 which he later realised was a PB for 1 second!  I was a bit worried by him thinking that I was second - he said that another girl with a half marathon number on had passed him whilst he was waiting for me. However, an announcement that the male course record had been broken was followed by another one saying that I had won and broken the course record by 5 all was not lost.  Fortunately they were handing out the winners medals as the runners finished so we didn't have to wait around for a presentation and in all honesty all I wanted to do was go home and lie in a darkened room for several days........