Yesterday morning, I braved the bright & sunny, yet brutally cold morning for the Run with the Turkeys 5K at the Rec Plex in Pleasant Prairie, WI.
It was only about 20 degrees out, which is unusually cold for this time of year. We also had 20mph wind blowing from every direction, which brought the wind chill down to 5 degrees. BRR! I questioned myself, do I really want to do this?
When I went to pick up my packet that morning before the race, they didn’t have mine. Maybe it was a sign?! But no, they also didn’t have 3 of the 5 packets for my friends that I was there with, either. So, it wasn’t a sign, just bad organization. I was doing this, no matter what.
[thanks to my friend, Jeni, for taking this pic!]
A few of us went outside to do our “warm-up jog” before the race. We literally ran maybe 200 meters to my car to throw some stuff in there, then ran back to shelter from the cold and stretch. Haha!
Finally, the race was going to begin. We shuffled in a herd to the exit of the beach house and listened to a sweet little girl sing the National Anthem. With the blast of a shrill air horn, we were off!
It was very confusing, because we literally took off by the exit of the beach house; some people were still streaming out, others were along the path waiting to go, and still others were on the road next to the path, which was blocked by a car and fence. “Where are we supposed to be starting?!” I called out. Nobody seemed to know.
I finally just followed the crowd in front of me forward, only to be stopped two seconds later midstride because a lot of the people were simply walking the race. With only a 4-foot wide path to run on, they were completely jamming everyone up, and you had to run in the frozen, bumpy grass to pass. I kept waiting to roll an ankle.
After a mile, the racers spread out enough that I could stay on the small paved running path. I hunkered down in my jacket and ran. The wind was SO cold on my face, my toes had been numb since the start, and even my legs felt a little numb. How cold does it need to be, to get frostbitten? I wondered. Everyone else seemed unconcerned, and people even had their kids out running with them (crazies), so I told myself to just run faster so I could get to the dang end.
Over the next two miles, we ran along the paved path, then turned onto a gravel path. At some point, we hit a turn-around point and traced our route back along the gravel path. But, instead of dividing the road in half with the orange cones for incoming & outgoing runners, the cones were offset 2/3 of the way across. On the way in, there was plenty of room on the road to pass others. But on your way out, it was single-file running, unless you wanted to run on the rutted, ankle-busting, gravely sideline. I had to brave that a few times, due to people slowing down a ton or stopping to walk in front of me.
Finally, I made the turn off the stupid gravel path and back onto the paved path. I looked at my watch and I was at 2.89 miles. Yes! Less than a quarter mile to go. I buckled down and picked up the pace, determined to push myself to the limit and finish strong.
But then I kept going, and going… I passed 3.1 miles on my watch, but still saw runners shuffling up ahead for quite a ways. 3.2 miles. 3.3 miles. What the heck?! At this point I was so irritated with the whole race, I just wanted to stop and walk the rest of the way in, but it was too damn cold to stop. So I kept going. Finally, at 3.6 miles, I crossed the finish line. They had marked the course over by a whole half mile!
For me, this was just annoying. I had really wanted to see what my best 5K time could be right now, so I can use that to get faster over the next few months. But I really felt bad for the walkers, who would still be out there for a long time; and for other people who were out running with kids in that cold; and for anyone who had decided to do this as their first race. Push yourself as hard as you can for 3.1 miles, then run an extra half mile. That is rough!
I’m not one to be a negative nancy, but even without the crappy weather, the race itself was a mess, and I won’t be running it again! After the race was done, we had to wait almost an hour and a half for race results. (I give them credit: They tried to appease annoyance by bringing in mini Jimmy Johns subs for people.) After waiting all that time, none of the five people I was with got a medal (a few of us were just seconds off), but later when we saw the posted results online, one of my friends should have gotten FIRST in her age group! They just totally skipped her. Also found out from a running club friend that he should have also won a medal; and he had been training a teenage girl, who was also skipped when she should have won third in her age group. The adults can handle it, but what a bummer for a kid to train for a race, place in her age group, and then not get her medal! Boo.
I’d cut some slack to the Rec Plex for all these issues, except a couple people told me that things like this happen every year, every time they organize a race…which is several time a year. Come on. You’d think running a race on your own property, a few times a year, you could get it right eventually. There are plenty of other Turkey Trots out there, so next year I’ll be looking for a new one.
Overall, the race experience wasn’t awesome, but I’m still proud of myself for braving the elements and getting out there. It was time spent with friends, which you can never complain about, and I got in a good workout…extra long, in fact. 😉 My friends and I also went to lunch after all was said and done, to celebrate that we’d all survived. I’ll take it.
Final time for 3.6 miles: 35:09