I'm pretty certain there are more races in the Chicago area on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. And most go by the same name. It seems just about every town around hosts a Turkey Trot. So this year, I decided to double the fun by running two of them.
My town, Elmhurst, has been home to the Dan Gibbons Turkey Trot for 27 years. It is one of the biggest in the area, and one of the best. It's a huge family tradition for many families, including my own. My wife (pictured on the left above) and I have run it every year since we moved there. It's great to get in a good run before sitting around eating all day!
It's also a great spectacle. I took it as a sign that I failed to start my watch at the start of the race. Time is irrelevant. Fun is the key in this 5k. The boys from the York High School swim team demonstrated that, even though it was a pretty chilly demonstration!
They changed the course this year from one that wound through neighborhoods and the prairie path, to one that goes through the downtown shopping district, past the college and other landmarks in Elmhurst. That helped draw a huge crowd of 7600 runners, and raise a bunch of money to help feed the hungry in Dupage County.
Turkey Trot number two was actually a couple days later, on Saturday. The Schaumburg version featured both a 5k and a half marathon. Figuring it would be a good warm-up for the Rock-n-Roll Las Vegas half marathon I'm running next weekend, I signed up. In fact, most of my regular group of running partners also decided to run it.
The dynamic at the start was a story in itself. I enjoyed a little too much holiday cheer at a late dinner the night before, so I figured on running easy just to get some miles in. Everyone else had reasons not to run hard as well, including the fact none of us warmed up or even stretched before the start. So we talked about going out together at 8:00 pace and keeping it there most of the race.
Then the gun went off and that flew out the window immediately. I ran the first mile with my friend Mark (second from the right in the picture) in 7:40. The next was 7:20. So I quickly revised my goal and decided to stick with the 7:30 pace for a while and see how I felt in a few more miles. I told Mark to go ahead, and I clicked off the miles on my own. It felt pretty easy. Once I got to about 9 miles, I realized I was on target to hit my goal time for the race next weekend (sub 1:40). So I figured I'd go for it, and worry about next week's race next week.
I kept doing the math in my head after every mile, and realized I was going to need to keep up the pace to break 1:40, but at 12 miles, I knew I had it in me. I crossed the line in 1:39:37, and felt pretty good. Nothing like cutting it close. My friends Greg and Mark were practically already showered and dressed by the time I finished, but I was happy anyway. We all enjoyed running the course that winds through the trails in Busse Woods, just east of the madness going on as Christmas shoppers crowded into Woodfield mall.
And after gorging myself on turkey all weekend before Saturday, I celebrated a good race later that day by grilling a nice steak! The 'run to eat' club sounds like a great idea to me! And I'm sure the celebration will continue this weekend for the Vegas half. I targetted that race some time ago to wind up my season before the holidays. A couple fun Turkey Trots are a nice addition to the end of that season!
See you on the roads......