Tag Archives: thanksgiving day race

2017 Thanksgiving Day Race recap

4 Dec

2017 thanksgiving day race.jpgI did not have high expectations for this year’s Thanksgiving Day Race. Thanks to Pokemon Go, I hadn’t trained as hard as previous years. My A goal was a PR, but I would settle for a B goal of finishing in under an hour. And after I did a 2-mile shakeout run the day before to test my new trainers and thermal compression shirt, a C goal of just finishing seemed more attainable. I was used to running on the flat park paths of London in 50-degree weather. The forecast for 9am on race day was 26 degrees Fahrenheit (-3 C).

In the past we’ve always gotten to the race too early with nothing to do but stand around and shiver, so we left later this year, only to find they really do close the roads at 8am, so it was nearly impossible to find parking. My parents dropped me off near the stadium while they searched for a spot. I had just enough time to queue for the loo (can I say that in America?) before I walked to the start. I was feeling ambitious and lined up with the 9-minute mile crew. I took two puffs of my inhaler and soon we were off.

The problem with the Thanksgiving Day Race (and a lot of other races that aren’t serious marathons) is that no one takes the timing corrals seriously. Immediately after I crossed the starting line I was boxed in by a crew of walkers, only to get around them and encounter slow runners. All my runs on tourist-infested Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus prepared me for this, so I maneuvered around them effortlessly, hopping up on the sidewalk, then down on the road, then back on the sidewalk. I was feeling good. I had my music blasting, my two pairs of gloves were keeping my hands warm, my new thermal compression top was doing its job, and I let myself think that maybe — just maybe — I had a personal best in me after all.

frenchie tripping.gif

And then I was on the ground. It happened so suddenly, but at the same time felt like slow motion. I could feel myself falling, but couldn’t do anything to stop it. My right knee and left hip hit the sidewalk hard and my brand new iPhone went flying. (The fact that it didn’t get damaged is a testament to my Speck case!) Runners around me stopped to make sure I was OK. I quickly got up and gave a little kick to make sure my leg wasn’t seriously injured. I was so close to the starting line that I could easily have called it quits and walked back. I decided I would try running for a minute and if it didn’t hurt, I’d continue on. I quickly discovered that a pain-masking adrenaline rush is a very real thing, and I felt faster and stronger than ever. It was also so cold out that it probably had the same effect as icing my knee. So when Britney came through my headphones and told me to “get to work,” I took off, as if the spectacular wipe out never happened.

I ever started to get cocky around mile 3. I opened Pokemon Go and started spinning stops for items as I ran. I even placed a Pokemon in a gym along the course. MapMyRun was telling me my pace was around 9 minutes a mile, which I knew wasn’t right, but I still felt like maybe my shot at a PR wasn’t lost. And then the final bridge came. I didn’t walk it, but it definitely slowed me down. The last mile of a race always seems to go on forever. I sprinted the last bit, but it wasn’t enough. I crossed the finish line in under an hour, but a minute slower than my time from two years ago. Not too shabby considering I wiped out in the first mile and almost didn’t continue.

By the time I met up with my parents and Cherry and collected my swag, the reality of my injuries started to kick in and really hurt. Blood was seeping through my two layers of pants. My hip didn’t begin to hurt until days later, but my knee was extraordinarily bruised and beat up. I spent the rest of the morning icing it while watching the parade. It’s now 11 days later and it’s still bruised and scabbed. I’m quite fortunate that I wasn’t seriously injured and that it only hurts now when Cherry jumps up on me or I forget and slam a cabinet shut with my knee. My hip was really bothering me last week to the point that I almost went to the doctor, but I tried some stretches I read about online and it really made a difference.This whole week I’ve felt 30 going on 70 complaining about my hip and knee pain. Getting old is the worst. I thought running was supposed to keep me young and healthy?

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Thanksgiving Day Race Recap with pugs and corgis

3 Dec

I did it! After months of sprinting on the track, huffing it up Primrose Hill, and crapping out on 4-mile weekend runs, prompting Stephen to say, “There’s no way you’ll finish that 10K in under an hour,” I did it — I ran the Thanksgiving Day Race in 58 minutes and 49 seconds — a whole minute and 11 seconds faster than my goal.

It was really the perfect race in all aspects — the weather was ideal (50 F instead of the usual 25 F), my playlist was killer, and I saw a pug at the starting line and two corgis along the course. Years ago I declared that a pug sighting automatically improved the quality of my day, so it was a good omen to start the race with one. I also declared that races should have corgis along the way to make me run faster, and there they were — two corgis — on the side of the course cheering us on! However they didn’t make me run faster because I briefly slowed down to take their photo. I decided this race nothing was going to slow me down — I had various mantras I kept repeating in my head, from Shaun T’s “Dig deeper!” and “Never sacrifice form” to¬†Enrico Pollini from Rat Race:

its a race gif.gif

I also really wanted to prove to myself (and Stephen, who runs with me the most) that I am capable of digging deeper and reaching my goal. But when there is a corgi along the race course you cannot not take a photo. (Pics or it didn’t happen, right?) So I got this blurry pic and took off again:

thanksgiving day race corgis.png

As I ran my family was texting me from the finish line, letting me know a guy won the race in 30:39 (how??) and that the very pug from the starting line was standing near them.

cincinnati pug.png

Not only that, but there was a corgi puppy nearby too!

race corgi.png

I wasn’t able to find my family or the pug and corgi after I finished since I was on a mission to get to the snacks by the stadium, but the thought of the pug and corgi (and OK, my family too) waiting for me helped me to push through on the hills.

I was elated that I finally reached my goal, but now there’s that “what now?”. Each year I shaved about 3 min off my 10K time — do I try for 55 min next year? But this race was so good I’m not sure I want to run it again next year (or if I’ll even be in town). When I brought up my “what now?” conundrum to my runner friend, she replied immediately: “You gotta run a half!” It’s always been in the back of my head that I want to tackle a half marathon before I turn 30. So many runners of varying sizes and abilities have done it — why not me? The London Half is in October, so I’ve got 310 days to decide and prepare. In the meantime I’ve “registered my interest” and have been carboloading as only Americans during the holidays know how.

Extreme running and a monkey riding a dog

18 Nov

Yesterday I ran 4.5 miles in the pouring rain. This afternoon I ran up and down Primrose Hill in 30mph winds. Fingers crossed, it looks like the weather for the Thanksgiving Day Race is going to be mild, but if things get extreme, I’ll be ready.

I can’t believe I’ll be heading to the US in less than a week. I have so much to do work- and life-wise before my flight, then of course there’s the actual long flight, but my mind is focused on the race. It’ll be my third year running it and I’m determined for it to be my best. I’ve changed up my training to include more hills and created the perfect playlist. I tested it out last week and ran my fasted 10K yet. It’s the perfect combination of current hip hop, 2004 Todd Rundgren, 1998 Steps and angry and motivational Eurovision hits. I am almost certain I will be the only person in Cincinnati with Woki mit deim Popo blasting through her headphones. The playlist is so good that I have forbidden myself from running to it until the race, so it will still be fresh and exciting. Now I just have to pray everything else plays nice, like my flight, jetlag, nutrition and body.

Speaking of body, I earned my first black toenail. When I discovered it last week my first thought was, “Oh no, gross!” followed shortly by “Yeah! I’m a real runner now!” After much googling (don’t Google image search “runner’s toe”!), I discovered gel toe caps.

gel toe cap

I picked one up at Superdrug and it has been a lifesaver. So much so that I immediately bought a few more on ebay. If I could wear these with heels instead of band-aids, it would be life-changing.

Just so this post isn’t about gross toes and running, here’s a photo of a monkey riding a dog from the Bengals game.

bengals monkey riding dog

Sadly I missed it because the game was on at 1:30am here. Now that Stephen and I watched every season of The League and the Bengals are actually almost good this year, I almost (almost) care about [American] football. Not enough to stay up til 1:30am to watch the Bengals lose to the Texans though.

Cincinnati Thanksgiving Day Race 10K recap

17 Dec

So on Thanksgiving Day (which was somehow almost 3 weeks ago) I ran my second ever 10K race. If you remember from my recent posts, I was really hoping for a sub-hour time. Sadly, that didn’t happen, and I have a whole host of excuses to explain why.

Excuse #1: I got attacked by a dog the day before.

Alright, I’m making it sound worse than it was. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the day after I arrived back in the US, I decided to do a short run around my parents’ neighborhood to make sure my race day kit (American English: outfit) was warm enough (see Excuse #2). I was wearing mountain trekking socks, calf compression sleeves, thermal pants and pug leggings, so my calves were essentially covered in 4 layers. My lungs were burning from the cold (it was about 30 degrees, or -1 C), but my body felt warm enough. As I was running I noticed a man and his boxer puppy jogging toward me. My first thought was “huh, a Steelers sweatshirt, you don’t see too many of those in Bengal territory,” followed shortly by “Ow!” as the puppy playfully jumped up on my leg. The guy kept running, perhaps not even noticing what happened, as did I, as it seemed like a harmless puppy pounce. But as I jogged on I felt a slight pain, and when I finally got home and removed all 4 layers from my leg, I saw a huge (like the size of a grapefruit!) bruise on my calf, along with a cut. I’m still not sure if it was a bite or a scratch — it happened so fast — and I can’t believe either would leave such a big and painful mark. I iced and bandaged it and it felt alright, but I’m still using it as an excuse for my race day performance.

Excuse #2: It was freaking cold.

When I left London at the end of November it was mid-50s (12 C). It was chilly, but not cold. It was actually near-perfect running weather. It wasn’t until the day before I left that I actually wore any of my thermal clothing on a run. The morning of the race it was 30 degrees (-1 C), which is a big difference when you’ve been training in 20 degrees warmer. Even with my thermal layers, gloves, headband and snood, my lungs were frozen.

Excuse #3: London is pancake flat.

I never realized how flat London’s royal parks are until I ran in Cincinnati and Kentucky. The slightest incline kills me. The hills in the race were described as “rolling,” and truly, to anyone experienced in running anywhere besides London, they probably weren’t that bad, but since I did the majority of my training on completely flat roads, I struggled. I even broke my rule and walked up a couple of the bridges.

Excuse #4: My pants kept falling down.

Since I started running a year and a half ago, I have worn the same ¬£2 LA Gear shorts. In the winter I wear them over my leggings since I need the pockets for tissues. They have always served me well. Yet on race day they started falling down after mile 1 and I had to continually pull them up. It’s never happened to me before and hasn’t happened since, so it was a total fluke.

Those are my main excuses. You could also add there were a crapload of people walking and running and the coral system isn’t that great, so even if you line up with your estimated mile time, you still end up dodging walkers. I took this shot right after the start.

cincinnati thanksgiving raceI ended up finishing in 1:02, 2 minutes slower than my goal, but 3 minutes faster than last year. And I got to wear my pugtastic outfit:

race edited(This was the only official race photo in which I don’t look like I’m going to die. The one near the finish line was not pretty!)

There’s always next year to reach my goal, or I should try a 10K race in London where it’s flat and warmer!

I am a real runner now

3 Dec
It’s hard to believe it’s been a week since I traded the high street for strip malls, my shopping trolley for a car trunk, and healthy protein smoothies for brown butter salted caramel snickerdoodles and layered pumpkin pie toffee cheesecake. Yes, it’s good to be back in the land of the free and the home of the brave and high fructose corn syrup. It’s also been a week since I’ve gotten a real moment to myself when I’m not baking or rushing out the door to shop or run.

Speaking of run, on Thanksgiving I officially ran 10K, my first race ever. It still amazes me that six months ago I couldn’t run a minute without wanting to die, and five days ago I ran for an hour and 5 minutes through the streets of Cincinnati and northern Kentucky without stopping. I was proud of my time considering it was my first race and 25 degrees outside (-4 C), but I looked at the results and saw an 81-year-old man beat me. I guess that’s just motivation to go faster and try harder next time. I’m not sure when my next race will be, but I have a feeling my first won’t be my last. I really enjoyed the race atmosphere, the two guys dressed as pilgrims in a boat screaming, “You just got passed by a boat,” the high-fives and encouragement from random strangers as well as my family along the course, and that final sprint to the finish. I have no idea where that energy came from, but I gunned it at the end. So much that I finished disoriented and went right past the place to cut off my chip timer. Did I have enough energy to do the whole course again, which would equate to a half marathon? I don’t think so, but then again I never thought I’d be capable of 10K.

thanksgiving 10k edit

(I am wearing two thermal tops, the official race shirt, a jacket, thermal pants, leggings, shorts and a South Park scarf. The only parts of me that were cold were my hands until I scored free handwarmers and my feet until I got running. There was a lot of standing around time beforehand because we got there over an hour early because we are race noobs and thought there wouldn’t be enough parking at the Bengals stadium.)