Thanksgiving Day 5 Mile Race Recap

A friend of mine suggested the Thanksgiving Day 5 Mile Race in Southport, CT.  She said it was huge, like thousands of people.  I’ve only ever run in one “big” race, the New Haven Shamrock and Roll.  It had like 2000 people.  It was fun, festive, and they gave you beer at the end of the 5K.

I have been training for a 10K, but I know I’m not there yet.  My runs in the last two weeks have consistently topped the five mile mark, but I’ve only done one that has gone over 6.  I was ready to run something more than a 5K, but not quite ready for a 10K.

So when my girlfriend suggested the 5 mile race, I thought, hm.  That could work.  We talked about going together and carpooling, since it is such a big race.  Sure, that sounded great.

Now if I’d been thinking I’d have realized that this friend is a 7 time marathoner and perhaps a tiny bit of intimidation might creep in there.  But in that moment, I didn’t think of that.  I just thought it would be fun.  Good thing.

So since the race is so huge, we left our town under the cover of darkness in the hopes of getting a semi close parking spot.  I’d read tons of stuff online that made me think getting to the race site before 7am was not only necessary, it was imperative.

Yeah, the parking lot was empty when we got there at 6:30.  OK, lesson learned.  My crazy punctuality is sometimes a tad over the top.  But actually, it was nice, because Gabi and I spent the time in easy chatter about all of the common people we know, town news, our kids, etc.  It was an easy way to spend the next hour and a half.

We finally got down to the starting area and that’s when my intimidation started creeping in.  Because there were so many people there that I couldn’t even SEE the starting line from where I was.  And when I looked around me, there weren’t too many chubby girls like me who were just planning on getting through the race without walking and enjoying the lovely scenery of Long Island Sound.  No, these were serious runners who had water belts and wicking fabrics and all manner of Real Runner Cred.

Yeah, seriously? I don’t look like these guys.

I nervously started asking my friend how long her usual runs were, and how many marathons she’s run.  Answers?  4 to 5 miles usually and 7.  OY.  And here I was telling her that I was hoping to finish the race in under 65 minutes.  At that rate, this woman could be halfway home before I even crossed the finish line.  But my inner dialogue was all my own; Gabi was nothing but supportive, seemed excited for me to be a part of the race with her, and promised to wait for me at the end with a bottle of water (at my 10K, I came in third from last and all of the waters were gone by the time I made it to the refreshment table).

So finally, the race started.  I lost Gabi immediately in the herd.  And I mean a herd.  Thousands and thousands of people.  It was a sea of people.  Which actually was kind of nice, honestly.  I didn’t mind the big pack; running is usually such a solitary thing, the races are when I share the experience with others.  I usually fall back so quickly and then end up alone, but there were so many here that I never did.  I mean, I knew I was in the back, eventually, but I was never alone.  It was nice.

I felt pretty good throughout the first mile.  I knew my pacing was a little fast because I was getting pretty winded.  The first and second mile were a tad hilly, so by the second mile, I was starting to feel worried.  There was still so long to go.  But the scenery was gorgeous; beautiful water views, and then up into the hills nearby Long Island Sound where gorgeous homes on expansive lots dot the landscape.  The weather was sunny and not terribly cold, so I just kept moving with the herd.

Hundreds of people passed me.  Still, up until the water stop halfway through, I had a lot of people around me.  After I gulped down my cup, I willed myself to slow down a bit.  I’d never make it without walking if I didn’t modulate my pace.  By mile 3 I felt better.  There weren’t any hills after that, and we got back down near the water where the views were simply breathtaking.  I wish I’d taken the few seconds to take photos with my phone; it was so beautiful throughout the course.

By mile 4 I was tired but knew I was in the homestretch.  I could feel my second wind kick in and I rallied, forcing myself to keep a steady pace as we worked our way back to the finish line.  I wanted to finish strong like I’ve done the last few times; there’s nothing like going full out towards the finish line.  And I did.  I raced towards that line like nobody’s business.

The timer read 65:15.  Which at first pissed me off until I realized that I had been so far back from the starting line that there was no way that was my final time.  I knew that I had to have come in under 65, but I wasn’t sure how much.  But I knew I did.  Which was all I wanted.

Gabi met me, as promised, with a bottle of water.  “How do you feel?” she asked me.

I looked at her, broke into a smile and said with all honesty, “Fantastic.”  It was true.  It hadn’t been easy, but I didn’t feel awful and terrible like I had after my 10K.  I felt great.  I didn’t exactly want to run anymore, but I was exhilarated, not exhausted.

Me and my friend Gabi before the race.

And then last night, this email landed in my box:

“Congratulations Amy on finishing the 2012 Pequot Runners Thanksgiving Day 5 Mile Road Race! Your net time was 1:03:50 with a pace of 12:46.”

Yep, pretty fantastic.


One response to “Thanksgiving Day 5 Mile Race Recap”

  1. Heather H (@SushiJammies) says :

    I am so, SO proud of you! I can’t even run a 5K without stopping yet, so you’re setting an incredible example for me. Thanks for being an inspiration!

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