TL;DR – I ran a local 4 mile race on Thanksgiving and over the weekend did a marathon. They are thanksgiving related or happened about the same time frame so two race reports in one.
I have done this Fairfax Turkey Trot charity race a few times and yes every time it was freezing cold. The first year I did it because this was the only turkey trot that offerred a 4 mi run instead of a traditional 5K. 4 mi is a weird distance but I like it. I was looking for a “long race” to run. At that time, 4 mi was a long race. A bonus for me was the hills they have for this course. I did not go about choosing a race based on how hilly it is but it was so happened to be like that. It was just right for me. I love hard runs.
We had great weather this year. It started at around 30 F and got up to around 55 F in the afternoon. It was similar condition for the whole week because of the cold air / jet stream got push up to the pole. So it was like a final fall weekend before winter arrives.
I dressed the way I did for the JFK, double layer for the top and shorts for the bottom.
I arrived bright and early. The race did not start until 8:30 but they said parking would be hard to find because there were 1200 of us signed up. And the nearest lot held maybe 50-75 cars. There were no lots big enough for 1200 cars. Of course cars scrambling around the neighborhood looking for spaces. I was one of the first few to arrive around 7:30 to stake my spot. Then I just walked around the neighborhood until start time. I tell you, I was freezing, yet I refused to sit in my car. I figured it would get me prepared for my winter races.
I had fresh legs and pretty much recovered from the JFK50. I decided to run my best by pushing hard early to see where I am at. I did not realize the neighborhood has plenty of hills. After a few of those, I was exhausted. I managed to finish. I mentioned this because I hit a wall around halfway and the feeling is like hitting a wall in a marathon. My legs became very slow. I felt like they were frozen. Time for me was not important. I just wanted to finish and to see how I did. I knew I was slower than my previous times. I managed to finish around 40 minutes averaging about 10 min pace. My best was probably around 35 mins. I am too lazy to look up my other finishes (my earliest was 32:34 in 2018, and probably my best). You just have to take my words for it. For short distances, finish within 4-5 mins, seems insignificant.
Then of course, I did not feel good after running so fast. Originally I planned to go to downtown to do run with a turkey image on my strava (they call this strava art). My running group does this every year. We plot our run so that it will turn out to be a picture of the turkey on Strava. Yet I was too tired from my turkey trot, I decided to call it off. It would be a self guided run this year any way since everyone was out of town. I did not like the complicated parking in DC.
Instead, I went to a nearby neighborhood trail and was going to do my usual Thursday training run. However, I was too tired to run and only did a 3 mile hike on a trail called the Wild Turkey Trail. I called it a day. I kind of watching my body. I knew if I struggled I could put out the miles I wanted to but I knew I have the Devil Dog coming up. I should be tapering for it and I shouldn’t push my body beyond its limit yet. Afterward, I went home to clean up, eat, and rest. At night, we had our Thanksgiving celebration. I was super tired.
Part II. On Saturday, I had a marathon in Baltimore. It was the NCR race. I did this four years ago and I was happy to try my hand at this again. Back then, this was my first trail marathon. Speaking of trail, it was flat, and a fast course. I finished it in 4:23:00. Yet, because I was running with a bunch of runners on their championship event, I felt I was the last one on the course.
This time around I had experience of not to push too fast. I was racing with many top local runners since this was a RRCA (Road Runner Club) champion event. A lot of fast older people came out to run this (as well as a lot younger runners). Let say, a competitor, who seems at least 10 years older than me, yet finished at a time I can only dream (3:15:00). A woman about my age who finished at 3:35 and said she was slow this year, meaning, she used to be faster. What are these people? They probably running sub 3 hour back in their younger days. If I could run under 4 hours, I would consider this year a success. Yes there were a lot of fast people at the race, so over 4 hours seemed to be really slow. I am happy with my time though (if you compare it to my last marathon in Atlantic City, it was just a couple minutes off).
Not much can be said about the race. The swags were awesome. We got a premium hoodie sweater and we were given a wool blanket as a finisher prize. It was also well run. We had crossing guards at every intersection. We had buses picking us up from our parking lot. The race really was spread in three sites (runners parking, the school staging area, and the start and finish chute. Each location is about 1 mi to 2 mi apart. It was handled well.
The trail was scenic out in a rural area (might be near Camp David, i need to check). It was in a wooded area north of Baltimore near the PA border. There is a bunch of history about the trail but I did not read up on it. NCR is the name of the rail road company and rail line which now the track has become a rail to trail called Gunpowder Falls Trail (state park). It is one of the best trails I run on in the area. It is unpaved.
I did arrive early this time. I left my house at 5 and got to the race location (bus pick up location) at 6:30. I was one of the first one there. I went to a Dunkins and got a couple bagels for breakfast. This was smarter than the first year I did it. Also, I did not stay at a hotel this time and saved some money. The bus took us to the school (Old Fields, and all girls boarding school that seems to have a bit of history; I feel like I’m in a Harry Potter movie) where the start would be. We waited in the field house. It was a long wait, because the start was at 8:30.
The race was uneventful. I started off at a 9:30 pace but I got slower as the race progressed. I finished with an overall pace of 10:04. I have not analyzed my spits. My pace must have degraded badly around mile 22. My pace was 10:50 for the final section. I was running a 10:26 after the turn around.
I was mostly by myself. The fast runners all passed me during the first mile. This time I did not panic nor did I try to chase like I did the first time. On the second half, I led a pack of maybe 5 runners. Though I couldn’t manage their pace. With 10K left to go, they passed me. Then it was just me running to the finish.
I struggled around mile 21-22. I was bonking. The aid stations being about 2-3 mi apart helped. I was revitalized. The last two miles were not an issue for me. I was some what regaining my pace. I finished without feeling too tired. I believed I could still run some more.
NCR is one of the best marathons I did. It is not like the Grandma’s Marathon or other city marathons I ran this year. It was low key event but had great supports. We had a lot of aid stations. Many are well stocked with gels and drinks. Some had sodas. Finish line had the usual water and bananas. But at the field house, we had soup and other snacks and lot of breads that they were giving out loaves to runners to take home. It was pretty much a lunch in the field house. Not many marathons serve lunch. This is one of the rare ones that does.
I don’t know why I signed up for this race in the first place. I think it was because I wanted to run a marathon but I wanted something local. I think I did well. I glad I did it. See the 2018 report. It offers an interesting perspective of my early days marathon run.