Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day Run 2009

Jessica and I were in town for Thanksgiving, and decided to check out the Thanksgiving Day run. We've enjoyed previous Turkey Trot's in Oklahoma City, but this was our first hometown race on Thanksgiving.

The day dawned clear but very crisp, in the high 20s or so, and downright cold in the shade. The generous 9am start gave us plenty of time to sleep in a bit and get ready for the start at Old Chicago. Although 4000+ people ended up doing the race, the lack of daily work and shopping traffic more than made up for it, so traffic was light and parking was easy.

We picked up our packets and learned our shirts would be coming in the mail, due to the high demand and popularity of the race. I ran our packets and my jacket and gloves back to the car, with a little time to spare, so I decided to hit the restroom one more time.

Just 5 minutes before the race, I lined up in the crowd. With so much high-quality competition, and having looked at previous race results, I figured a good 50 or 60 people clearly deserved to start ahead of me, so I headed behind the start banner. Once I made my way into the crowd, though, I looked around, and saw a sea of families, strollers, and headphones. "I'm just hoping to finish" said the guy next to me.

Crap. I'm not *that* competitive, but I didn't want to stress out in a sea of gapers, so I tried to weave my way forward a little bit. Eventually, I settled in, and the race began. As expected, these folks plodded along across the road, so it took a bit of diving and weaving to get to a comfortable pocket of runners. Personally, I enjoy running so much that I wouldn't want to ever take away from someone else's run by getting in the way; I always yield to faster runners and stay the heck out of the way; so I don't understand the motivation of lining up early at the front around people that are, literally, nearly twice as fast.

But, my briefly foul mood was quickly tempered after about 20 seconds, and finding enough space and pace to enjoy the slight uphill first mile. It turned out that my first mile pace was right on target for my "A" goal of 6-minute miles. In the second mile, however, the stress of the previous days and the fact that I was above my head became apparent, as I started dropping the pace slightly. I settled in to enjoy the day and focused on a good run, comparable to my previous four-miler in Kansas.

We looped around and started heading down Mountain Avenue. Here, I had fond memories of a fast one-mile race in 2007, as well as plenty of training runs when I was taking classes at CSU. The crowd was thinned, and I focused on keeping a solid pace, with the Mason and College Avenue stoplights easily visible in the distance.

Finally, we hit College Avenue, and I sprinted in a bit to get the darn thing over with. It turns out I was 5 seconds or so slower than my previous 4-miler, but it was still quite an enjoyable run. I met our friend Brian and 4-year old John, as we waited for various friends to pass by. After focusing on the runners directly in front of us, I eventually lifted my gaze to the masses coming down Mountain Avenue. Wow, what an amazing spectacle! A sea of folks in our proud hometown were giving it their best. I recognized friends, acquaintances, and people I recognized but didn't know from around town. Jessica finished even faster than she expected. All in all, a good reminder of why we love living here!

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