The Turkey Hill Country Classic was held yesterday and I have nothing but praise for how well it was executed. To conduct a large scale race is a feat in itself, but to host a half marathon, 10k, 5k as well as cycling events on the same morning is indeed a feat. The packet pickup area was well organized and staffed. There were plenty of porta potties. The course was well marked and included volunteers at a few of the mile markers calling out times as well as several water stations. The post race area included various drinks, ice cream treats, hot dogs and popcorn as well as bounce houses for the kids. The registration for the 10k only cost $15 and included a long sleeved tshirt. I would highly recommend this event to anyone interested in running any of the distances and I plan to attend again next year.
Friday evening Jason was complaining about not feeling well, and took his temperature to discover he had a low grade fever. Despite his sleeping better thanks to our newly installed window air conditioner, his stomach decided to not allow him to race with me Saturday morning. I drove the 40 minutes to the Lancaster course alone as my dad and Armand were leaving earlier to start the half marathon at 7am. I sporadically used my windshield wipers, annoyed at the rain as I expected it to be out of the area by the time of the race. I didn’t let the rain affect my race mentality though as I had decided I was going to race the 10k as best as I could given it could be my last race for awhile.
I arrived with plenty of time before the race which was good since I had a bit of a walk from the elementary school parking lot to the church. Warming up by myself was a little lonely and I thought often about how dad and Armand’s race was going. The rain was intermittent, but had ceased by the time I lined up for the 8:15 start.
I began the first mile fairly comfortable. I was determined to run my own race strictly against myself and not focus on any other female runners. I had no actual time goal since my training was so limited due to track season. I just wanted to run a solid race. It took about a half mile to feel really loosened up despite doing a longer than normal warmup. Around that point the 10k runners shifted to the right side of the road as the 5k had started 2 minutes after us and the lead runners were coming up on our left. They turned off to the left, and we continued straight ahead. My first mile beeped an 8:12 which was faster than I expected.
The second mile included a long, gradual climb and then a descent down the other side. My lower back started to ache and I worried that the “plank off” I held at track on Wed. was coming back to bite me. I had held a plank for 3 minutes, the first time I ever timed myself, and my back had really felt it when I dropped out (only one of my kids beat me and I rewarded her with a cookies and cream candy bar). The course turned into a sewer treatment area to complete a small loop and my sides and abs were hurting in a way they never hurt during a run. It didn’t feel like a side stitch, but more like my muscles were being stretched. Despite the distraction I managed an 8:03 mile.
During the third mile the course joined with the half marathon course. A light rain also started at this point. Going up a hill I passed a man dressed as Forrest Gump, old school shoes included, pushing a 3 child stroller that did indeed include 3 children in the age ranges of 4-5. I was amazed that anyone would choose to push that many children in a stroller let alone for a half marathon. The back, side and ab muscle pain I had been experiencing subsided and I clocked an 8:26. I decided at that point that my goal would be to run all my miles under 9 minutes.
I passed a lot of people walking during the fourth mile due to the hills. I’m sure some were not prepared for them, physically or mentally. Fortunately I had preran the course twice earlier in the year, so despite my lack of hill training (the previous 2 Saturday runs were both on the rail trail) I was still able to run them without too much difficulty. My pace did slow because of them though and my mile time was an 8:58, but I was happy to still keep it under 9 minutes.
The fifth mile included the last of the uphills and connected to the 5k course. There were a lot of families walking it, and it felt good to pick people off even if they weren’t racing. It was still raining off and on, but I wasn’t too bothered since I was almost finished and my shoes weren’t heavy. I skipped the water station during that mile as I had already utilized two prior ones and wanted to focus on finishing strong. I clocked an 8:33.
The final mile was flat until a final turn and then a long gradual downhill before another flat stretch. I opened up a good bit and my legs seemed as if they just wanted to fly. There was a woman ahead of me that I debated trying to chase, but decided that I was best sticking to my plan of only racing myself. I hit the six mile mark in a 7:59. As I neared the finish I heard someone call out encouragement and shortly after heard my dad’s usual “Come on Trace!” I pushed a bit more and finished with a 51:26.
Dad got me a bottle of water and I attempted to stretch only to discover I could barely bend over due to my left hamstring being so tight. This was the confirmation I needed that I do actually have an injury despite being able to run without pain in it. I continued to walk around the post race area, enjoying both an ice cream sandwich and later a chocolate milk. I reviewed the results board and saw I had finished 4th in my age group. When I heard the awards begin I wandered over in the off chance I still placed since the overall awards were being given to the top five finishers. It was good I did as I ended up 2nd in my age group. I actually stepped on a podium and had my picture taken with the first place finisher (I’m not sure where the 3rd place finisher was) which was something I hadn’t done since placing 6th at the White Rose track invitational in 2004.
Overall I am very pleased with how I performed in the race. My time wasn’t as fast as I ran in the Springettsbury 10k (a similarly challenging course) this winter, but it was a solid time for my limited training. I was bummed Jason didn’t get to race, but it may have been to my advantage since I got to wear the Garmin. Now I am focused on rehabbing my hamstring as it has now begun to punish me with more consistent pain and ice doesn’t seem to help. I have taken 2 Aleve this weekend so far, but plan to look up physical therapy exercises to begin taking care of it without medication. Fingers crossed it heals fast as I’m ready to get back into serious training once track season is finished!