I've never considered myself a hard core runner. In fact I often berate and belittle myself for taking it a little lightly. I run because I enjoy it. I run because it's fun. I run so I can eat whatever I want. I'm not a true racer. Just a recreational runner. But this morning's Turkey Trot made me feel just a little bit hard core. When I lined up at the start line in a temperature of -2 F (and a wind chill of -15) I wondered if I was just a little out of my mind. To be fair, the turkey was probably the warmest guy out there.
Fortunately I wasn't the only insane person out there. There were a couple hundred others out there. All of us dressed in so many layers it was like a running herd of bloated sasquatches. (Sasquatches? Sasquatch?)
Actually it was the volunteers I felt the most sorry for. Especially the 80 missionaries who were out there, giving up part of their holiday to stand in the frigid weather and direct the race. As for me I had on two pair of socks, two pair of running tights, sweatpants, a long sleeve shirt, a technical tee, a sweat shirt, a coat, two pair of gloves, a headband and a hat. Frankly I got so hot around mile two the coat ended up tied around my waist.
But the race was slow going. First of all we were running on a lot of ice and packed snow. It was treacherous in quite a few places, but we managed even though we had to slow down to a walk at several spots. My lungs were burning. I'm not going to lie, it was one of the hardest races I'd done. I kept having to remind myself that I've run a marathon, so I could easily manage this short distance. But it was tough. There were times when the only reason I kept running was the knowledge that if I stopped I'd freeze to death. The highlight of the run came at a corner around the 2.5 mile mark when one happy elder (bouncing around to try and keep himself warm) shouted, "Happy Thanksgiving Y'all! Good Work" I spun around and asked him what part of Texas he was from, "How did you know I was from Texas?" "Honey it takes a Texan to know one." Turns out he was from McAllen which is basically Mexico. He admitted this was the first time he'd ever seen snow. Anyway that little exchange gave me the boost I needed to finish the loop strong. Still when I reached the moment of truth, I decided I'd been as hard core as I needed to be for one Thanksgiving morning. Instead of taking the turn around and going back for another lap (and an additional 3 miles, as I'd been originally slated to do,) I took the fork to the left and headed for the finish.
I tried not to beat myself up for doing only a 5K, instead of 10. But my lungs were on fire, my body was heavy and my eyes were burning and watering from the wind. I did what I always do at the end of the race and kicked it into high gear in the home stretch. I started to feel great when the 30 or so missionaries at the finish line started yelling and cheering. That is until I completely wiped out 10 feet from the finish line. It was humiliating and for the first time I was grateful that no one I knew was there to see it.
Here's me at the starting line. By the end of the race I had frost on my hat and gloves. I saw people with frost on their hair and eyebrows. But I'm glad I did it. In a small way, I feel like a hard core runner and a total rockstar for pushing myself to do this while everyone else was still in bed. And besides, when I was stuffing myself full of turkey and pie some 5 hours later, at least I felt like I had earned every bite.