Drumstick Dash 5k (Inaugural) 2012
By visiting family for Thanksgiving in Wisconsin, we knew we'd miss the cherished Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day Run, but hoped for a Cheesehead alternative. Despite an active running community, there hadn't really been a big Turkey Trot in Wisconsin. Fortuitously, this was the first year of the Drumstick Dash 5k, an event that benefited the Food Bank and circled the famous Milwaukee Mile at the State Fair Park. Jessica and I both have great memories of the State Fair Park -- albeit mostly in the contest of eating cream puffs and cheese curds and things-on-a-stick -- so this would be a great opportunity to enjoy a healthier alternative for Thanksgiving Day morning, and to meet some of our relatives for an enjoyable morning.
Although it was an inaugural event, the Drumstick Dash obviously met a pent-up desire for a solid Thanksgiving event, and attracted a field of over 2600 people. As it was, the event was quite enjoyable and ran without a hitch. The start line was nicely uncrowded, so it was easy to get up front and warm up. Promptly at 8:30, we were off, wearing timing chip bibs. A beautifully warm morning was offset by a blustery wind. So, onto the personal details.
My main goals were to run a solid race, and finish well under 17 minutes. The time goal did not happen, despite my solid pre-race plans which included a scraggly mustache as well as carbo-loading on greasy but timelessly delicious lasagna and garlic bread at Barbiere's the night before, but enjoyed a fun course and strategic race. Off the front was a guy in neon and a guy with a triathlon shirt, forming mostly good pacing rabbits for the first half or 3/4 mile.
I crossed the first mile, which was marked with a digital clock, exactly at 5:20, which was right on pace. Things felt controlled as I trailed a pack of 4, having dropped the triathlon guy, but they had pulled ahead slightly. Some of them were chatting with each other, so it was clear they were working together with purpose. Fighting the wind, I worked to catch up to them, and then was surprised by a slightly easier effort and slower pace when I did catch up. Having no idea on my pace, I decided to remain in the pack, as we wound our way around the slightly-banked lower apron of the racetrack. Our 2nd mile was clearly slower and came in at 5:40.
After that, 1st and 2nd stetched out noticeably. I kept on pace in 4th and focused on 3rd. This was at the limit of what I was comfortable doing, so I decided to stay back and aim for a final kick in the last 0.1.
Without a 3M marker, but knowing that the finish line was near, I began kicking a little earlier than planned, gapping 3rd and hoping he wouldn't respond. He did, so I pushed to keep the gap constant, and although I thought I heard the footsteps fading, I pushed with all I had just to finish. My time was well over 17 minutes, with 1st place also being slower than 17, so on paper I wonder if I missed an opportunity, thinking a lower-elevation race would have been more advantageous. At the same time, I know that my final push was all that I had left, and the wind and turns made a tough course that was at least 5k. So as far as timing was concerned, I have to believe it was still a solid representation of where my training is at right now. And actually racing for position in the final seconds was quite a rush, and there was instant camaraderie and respect at the finish line with handshakes and half-hugs. At the end, I learned that the rest of 1-5 were Brookfield running teammates, with 1st having a PR in the mid-15's, and most of these guys racing for college teams, so I had fun being an old dude running in the mix.
I was surprised to be handed a trophy and a Brookfield Performance Running Club store gift certificate at the end (awesome sponsorship from them and Serdyk's grocery). I happily re-gifted the gift certificate to cousin-in-law Dave, who is well-prepared to run his first half-marathon in Orlando in January. He and his cousin J ran together most of the race, with both finishing easily under half an hour, with J's Dad Steve walking and pushing a final jog to finish under an hour.
Anyway, this was a great, fun event that was well-executed and brought out the community and some of our family for a great morning. There's no reason to believe this won't continue to be another great Milwaukee tradition.