While my usual Thanksgiving tradition is to stuff my face with as much delicious food as possible and be supremely lazy, I decided to do something a little different this year and start the day off with a run. Yes, this was my very first Thanksgiving run! With celebrating the holiday in Painesville, my hometown, it seemed only fitting to run the Lake County Central YMCA Turkey Day 5K.
Raymond and I drove out the morning of the race, and we arrived at the Y a little before 8am. Although the parking lots near the Y were filling up, we scored street parking one street over. I knew a lot of people participated in this race, but with the cold conditions, I was still surprised by the crowd. We snaked our way through the building and into the gym. Thankfully, I was able to walk right up to the table and get my packet. We hung in the gym until a few minutes before the start and then made our way outside. I was thankful that Raymond was there, so I could wear my coat and sweatshirt until right before the start. I passed off my warm layers, and about 2 minutes later, the race began.
Holy coldness! The sting of the air against my face and inside my lungs was rather unpleasant to say the least, and my legs felt as though they wouldn’t move correctly with being so cold. I was hoping that I would warm up as we continued on the course. I kept looking at my watch because I felt like I was moving in slow motion, but I was clipping along at a fast pace and felt strong. The course took us from Mentor Avenue into Lake Erie College, and I had to slow down a bit due to ice. I made it to the first mile marker with a time of 7:20. Let me just say that for me, that time is HUGE! I had never run a mile that quickly in my life.
The race took us through some of the college and then on to Walnut Avenue. By this point I was still very cold and starting to get tired. I saw the water stop ahead but made the decision to forgo it. I didn’t want to slow down for fear of killing my momentum. From Walnut, we turned on to the bike path, which was covered with ice. My time dropped from the 7:30-7:40s to around 8:30 because I was terrified of slipping. My watch beeped for the second mile, and it was 7:58. Not too shabby, especially with slowing down.
I was so happy when the bike path opened to Mentor Avenue, which, thankfully, was not iced over at all. I knew this was the last stretch toward the finish, but my body was not cooperating the way I wanted. I still had yet to warm up and was starting to feel very weak. This was, by far, the hardest I had pushed myself for a 5K race. I kept checking the watch and cursed when I saw my time was in the 8 minute range. Damn legs! Damn cold! Damn breathing! Not sure how, but I mustered up some energy and saw my time drop back into the 7s. I looked down the road and saw the finish line. Must. Keep. Running!
I hoped that I had energy left for a kick at the end, but I didn’t have much. I tried the best that I could and crossed the line. Raymond was standing on the side cheering for me when I crossed, and we met up at the finish. I checked my watch and was amazed. I completely crushed my (semi-) old PR that I set in September and accomplished a goal that I thought was impossible. I ran a 5K race with a pace in the 7:00 minute/mile range! Raymond asked if I wanted to stay for awards, and I responded with an emphatic no! Not that I didn’t care about the winners, but I was so cold and tired that all I wanted to do was go. Plus, I knew I had a cold celebratory one waiting for me at my mom and dad’s!