Name of the race: PPTC Turkey Trot
Where: Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY
Date: Nov 23, 2017
Time: 9:00 am
Distance: 5 miles
Terrain: Rolling hills of Prospect Park
- $25 early-turkey pricing September 4 through September 18
- $35 September 19 – October 16
- $40 October 17 until the race sells out or online registration closes
- $100 for 100 charity bibs after the race sells out
Post-race Food: Bagels with cream cheese, apples, hot chocolate, and water
Swag: CelesTEAL hat and finishers medal
Performance: Overall: 180/2204; Gender: 33/1252; Age (40-44): 3/194
Weather: 34 degrees, 55% humidity
Of all the races that my running club, PPTC, puts on, I think for many, the PPTC Turkey Trot is the favorite. This certainly is true for Ben and me. It was originally a race organized by New York Road Runners (NYRR), but in 2002, PPTC took over the race when NYRR decided that they no longer wanted it. After years of mismanagement and neglect from NYRR, PPTC took loving care of it and now it’s one of the largest races in Brooklyn. Over 2750 people signed up for this race this year.
My friends and I signed up to volunteer for the Tuesday packet pick-up. I have a lot of fun with packet pick-up because I develop a schtick that I tell people. After asking for their last names and finding their bibs, I direct them over to the table with the swag by saying, “Please go to the right to pick up your celestial teal hats, the safety pins are across from us, and the expo is downstairs.” I think this is hilarious because we’re in a sporting goods store and I’m claiming that the store is the expo. Seasoned runners got the joke and smiled. I also had the fun of naming the color of the Turkey Trot hats. I called it celestial teal, which is a bit of a mouthful. In hindsight, I should have called it celesTEAL.
Thursday morning, because of the relatively “late” start of the race (9 am, how luxurious!) and our proximity to the park, we got to enjoy a leisurely morning. After coffee, we strolled over. I wanted to get to the race on the earlier side because I wanted to do bag check (I usually don’t) and I had to find Heinrich in order to give him his turkey tutu.
Heinrich came to the packet pick-up on Tuesday and overheard me telling our friends about my plan to run in a tutu. Last year’s Turkey Trot was the first time I ever made and wore a tutu. I loved it and wanted to do it again. I didn’t like the tutu I made last year, so I decided to remake it. He asked me if I could make him one too. I love crafting, so it was no chore making another one. More often than not, I enjoy the process of crafting more than the actual end product. As a kid, I came up with my own craft project to do all summer long. Getting sidetracked here . . .
We found him by bag check, so I was able to hand him his tutu. Then Ben took a photo of us showing off our plumage. Unlike a regular tutu that goes all the way around, I had the turkey tutu go only halfway, so the tulle would stick out like turkey tailfeathers.
The three of us walked over to the start line together. The start line for the turkey trot is always a mess. You have well over 2000 people crammed into an area that was never meant to have that many, plus there are no corrals. Despite the pleas from race officials and directors for the slower runners to move back, there is a bevy of back-of-the-packers up front. Heinrich and I seeded ourselves fairly up close, but even we experienced plenty of congestion during the first half mile of the race. Ben was more aggressive and seeded himself closer to the start line. Once he cleared the first couple hundred feet, it was smooth sailing for him.
After I fought through the congestion, I concentrated on not going out too fast. But what exactly was too fast? Not to be bragging here, but I am in what is the best shape of my life in terms of running. Not only have I been setting PRs lately, but those PRs were huge. I’m really excited and happy about how well my running has been going lately, but at the same time, I’m now getting a bit intimidated by how fast my race pace needs to be these days. According to McMillan, based on my recent 5K PR, I should be able to race 5 miles in 37:20 (7:28 pace).
Um, Mr. McMillan, that was my 5K pace last year.
I couldn’t fathom running that pace for 5 miles. I knew without a doubt, barring disaster, I would PR at this race. Last year, I came within 3 secs of tying my previous PR and I am in much better race shape this year. I knew I could hold a 7:45 pace for 5 miles, which would get me comfortably under sub-39 and a new PR. Jay thought that pace was too slow for me. I thought it over and thought maybe I should try to see how close to 38 mins I could get. To be sub-38, I would need to run 7:35 pace, which honestly seemed a little crazy.
After dithering a bit, I decided to settle on 7:40 for the first mile. I didn’t want to start out too fast, which is hard for this race because, after the initial small incline, there’s a massive decline for the first mile. The first mile went by in 7:33. I grimaced but decided the downhill help meant that I wasn’t really pushing myself that much in the first mile.
The second mile is pretty flat, so I wanted to hold steady, which I did in 7:35.
The third mile is the toughest portion of the course because this is where Zoo Hill is. Whenever I have a race in Prospect Park, I’ve learned not to look at my pace on my Garmin. I have to slow down and if I look, I freak out and then push myself too hard on the hill and then flame out for the rest of the course. Instead, I need to simply go comfortably hard during a race. Once over the hill, I used the downhill to “rest” and catch my breath. I ran the third mile in 7:42, which was faster than the 7:45 that I was hoping for.
The fourth mile is my favorite section of the course because this is where the massive decline is found. Because the finish line is less than 2 miles away, I took the downhill portion quite aggressively in 7:24.
Oh, the last mile . . . the finish line is so close and yet so far. The last mile is fairly flat, but it’s hard to run right after you got a massive help with a downhill. I focused on running as hard as I could by targetting runners in front of me and passing them. The last quarter mile of the race, my body couldn’t make up its mind whether it wanted me to cough or to throw up. It was a weird feeling. But it really helped having soooo many teammates cheering for me in the final stretch and hearing Ben once again cheer, “Shake that tailfeather!” Of course, I couldn’t slow down now! I held on and sprinted across the finish line. The last mile was at 7:24 as well.
I was ecstatic to find that not only did I get a PR as I expected, but I set another massive PR by knocking off about 90 secs off my old PR. My new 5-mile PR is 37:37! This is substantially under 38 mins. I would have really happy with anything close to 38 mins. I was bubbling over with joy. Ben confessed that he almost missed me because based on what I told him, he wasn’t expecting me for another minute. He looked up and there I was running for my life like a turkey trying to escape a Thanksgiving dinner.
We hung out with our teammates for a short while afterward. Just about everyone was happy with their races. In fact, one of our teammates actually won the race outright for the second year in a row (and got to take home a freshly baked pie).
Then we went home to shower and pack. Ben and I decided to spend Thanksgiving out of town in glamorous New Jersey. Actually, we don’t have a functioning oven at home right now and I really wanted to roast a turkey, so Ben found a cheap, but comfortable, AirBnB house pretty close-by, so I could make us a Thanksgiving dinner with mashed potatoes, stuffing, and roasted Brussels sprouts. Ben took the train to go to work, so Bandit and I are hanging out by ourselves in suburbia.
Do you like to craft? What’s your favorite part of a Thanksgiving meal? Mine is stuffing.