This race in many ways is quite a pain and honestly there’s nothing special about it at all; there’s no medal, the distance is weird, the course is not that great and the shirts are just plain white cotton shirts. But every year I can’t help but sign up for the madness that the Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot has to offer. It truly is madness in many ways, there are about 40,000 people, many families just out to walk (or stroll in my opinion) and there are kids, strollers and dogs galore; not my idea of an ideal race situation. But I come back because this race means so much to me and each year I find myself at the starting line.
Growing up my dad always did the Turkey Trot and we would wait patiently at home wondering how he did. In college I followed suit and signed up for the 5K each year with him. It was tragic each year and I was always slow and mostly had to walk, but it was still something that we were able to do together.
Two years ago the Turkey Trot was my debut race (if you can call it that, it’s not like I’m special or anything, it just is what it is); I had trained with RunOn to be able to run the 8 mile trot, something I had never thought I could do. Each year the 8 milers (this was before they decided a mass start was a good idea…) would take off and I’d watch in amazement thinking that to be able to run 8 miles was just plain awesome. I vowed someday to do that, thought I never really ever pursued that; At least not until 2 years ago.
It took me an hour and fifty-four minutes (1:54) to go 8 miles. But I did it, I accomplished a goal and so began my journey as a runner. I can honestly say that my life was changed while training for the 8 mile turkey trot 2 years ago and I will never be the same. That’s why I come back; to pay homage to my running roots.
Each year it’s more and more hectic, yet each year my dad and I find ways to be smarter that the other 40,000+ people out there. We have our usual intersection in which we park; it makes for easy start line access and quick post race departures (I'd tell you but then I would have to kill you). We learned last year that if you get up really close to the starting line, the place where all the fast people give you the once over because they know you don’t belong there, that’s the best place to be, otherwise you’ll be trampled by strollers and dogs.
Last year I ran a 5K PR because I started fast and just held on; that was probably one of the most fun Turkey Trots my dad and I have ever had. But this year I knew I wanted to stake my claim on that 8 mile race. An hour and fifty-four minutes just wasn’t ok with me, I wanted to break 90 minutes.
The past 2 years I’ve opted out of paying for chip timing (its $5 cheaper and I have my Garmin) and it works for me. However this year if you weren’t chip timed you couldn’t get as close to the start line, but you better believe we lined up right at the barriers. About 5 minutes to race time they let everyone move forward. My dad, sister, Alex and I were squished in and ready to go. I knew from experience that the first 3 miles were just brutal because there were so many people and you expend so much energy dodging the walkers and avoiding the strollers. The first 3 miles are actually pretty cool because you are running in the arts district downtown but there are too many people to really enjoy it. At mile 2 Alex told me that his shins were acting up again and he was only going to run the 5K.
I was tempted to go with him but I knew I needed to see what I could do. I wish I could tell you this course was interesting or exciting, but it’s really not, it’s actually pretty lame. Once you split from the 3 milers you run by the old court house and by the JFK memorial and around the famous reunion tower ball but then you just run across a big bridge that only seems to go uphill. Once you get off the bridge you turn around and run back. And then for added interest the last three tenths of a mile are uphill, just in case you haven’t worked hard enough. It’s a rough course.
My goal was to break 90 minutes but I was really hoping I could eek out a 1:20; however the course was much harder than I remembered and I was still feeling the effects of the Tulsa half marathon. There were so many times on this course I wanted to stop and I’m sure if I pull up my splits you can see my pace drop considerably but I didn’t stop, I wouldn’t let myself. I finished in 1:23 and I was happy with that. I definitely achieved my goal and now I have something to work towards next year.
So here’s to another year of turkey trotting!