Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Race Report: The Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot

The second race I completed while in Texas was the Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot. It was a last-minute deal. I sort of wish I'd decided on it sooner so that I could have been better prepared. As it was, I was still very excited because I read on the website that they were trying to break the Guinness record for largest number of people dressed as turkeys and doing something or other. I'm not exactly certain what the record is, but they were trying to accomplish it by having as many people as possible dress in head-to-toe turkey costumes while racing.

Some people might be turned off by this prospect, but I was thrilled and immediately began making plans for a head-to-toe turkey costume, even though it was the evening prior to the race and my costume options were quickly shrinking. But when you're in Texas and need something for cheap at odd hours, there's always Wal-Mart, which is where I ended up going on my turkey costume quest.

The criteria for this costume were that it had to be both a shirt and pants of the same color, and that color had to be black, white, or brown. I decided on white, because the instructions also mentioned that the chest area could have different colors. In this little stipulation, I saw my opportunity to reGen-ify my costume.  Additionally, each turkey had to have a headpiece (beak), feather plume in the back, and turkey feet. In order to achieve this, I purchased white long johns, colored pencils, and brown colored paper. Out of these materials, I created my turkey accessories. My brother, Matthew, was a big fan of my feather plume.

I stayed up finishing my creation until 1am. Generally, I'm pretty good at not getting very much sleep but still being able to wake up when I need to, but not on this evening. Again, I might have planned this all a little better. But if there's one thing I'm really terrible at, it's planning things in advance. The race was supposed to start at 9am but the website noted that turkeys should be there at 7:30 to be verified and lined up properly. I set my alarm for 5:30 accordingly.

I woke up to a nasty surprise when I opened my eyes, checked my phone, and saw that it was 7:46. I was supposed to be at the race 16 minutes prior to when I woke up! And races in Dallas are not like races in New York, the majority of which take place in Central Park, which is a fifteen minute walk from my apartment. No, getting to this race was going to be a trek. I threw on my turkey top and turkey bottom, grabbed the rest of my costume and threw it in my rental car, and flew out the door a little after 8am.

Between not being good at directions and not being able to use the major highway that should have gotten me down to City Hall, it took me 45-55 minutes to arrive and park. At this point, I knew I'd missed my opportunity to be a verified turkey and was worried about missing the start of the race entirely. Fortunately, I volunteered at this race in 2009 and knew that I had a little extra time because it takes so long for all the runners to cross the start line. After parking, I jumped out of my car, grabbed my costume (I was determined to race as a turkey, even if I had to be an unverified turkey) and started following the crowds of people wearing race bibs. Keep in mind that I hadn't even registered and the race was minutes from starting.

Finally, I found the start line area only to be confronted with an enormous mass of people standing between me and where I needed to register for the race. Wearing my turkey suit and beak, I began weaving my way through the crowd with my feet and plume in hand, aiming to acquire safety pins to finally put them on once I'd registered.

After a lot of pushing and utterings of "excuse me" I found myself in the parking garage where registration is conducted. I hurriedly registered for the untimed race, as I was a good 15 or 20 minutes too late to be timed. Then I discovered more horrifying news: they were out of safety pins. I had to tape my bib to myself. Forget about my turkey accessories! I was moderately heartbroken at this news. Not to mention concerned about having to carry so many things for 8 miles since there was either no bag check or I was unable to find it and probably didn't have time even if there was one I could find. By the time I had taped my bib to myself and attached my turkey feet (I was really determined to wear as much of the costume as I could), it was already ten minutes past 9. The race had technically started, though you never would have known it by the number of people who still hadn't seemed to have moved an inch.

Crossing the start was slow going. I was clearly in the back since I had started so late and it was tough navigating through a sea of walkers, strollers, adorable puppies and babies, etc. If you intend to PR, this is not the race for it. It is just too crowded. And the crowds continued like that for the entire duration of the 5k. I was weaving in and out of lines of runners and groups of families. It was only at the split that I felt I was able to keep any sort of decent pace. Plus, I was carrying my wallet, keys, phone, turkey plume, and eventually race bib IN MY HANDS. It was a juggling act, that's for sure. One that I didn't really enjoy. At one point all my cards almost fell out of my wallet! Toward the end of the 5k portion I even lost a turkey foot.

All that said, the race course after the 5k racers split off was cool. I'm not very familiar with downtown Dallas so I can't say exactly where we were (though I can post the race course, which I will do now):

It's the picture at the bottom of the second page. Anyway, the coolest thing about the course was that we got to run a nice stretch of elevated highway that had been closed just for this race! It was very cool. I kind of wish I'd taken a picture of the view.

As far as pace goes, I'm not really sure how I was doing. From the clocks I saw at the mile markers, I felt like I was running somewhere between 8:30 and 9 minute miles after the first 5k of the race. 8 miles seemed a lot shorter than I anticipated it would feel. After the 5k split I ran a couple of miles before coming across the 5 mile marker, which is when I realized there were only 3 miles to go. Only 3! The race felt like it was practically over!

It wasn't, clearly, but I was glad it felt like it was passing quickly instead of dragging on. I was also glad that the 8 mile finish was separate from the 5k finish so that I was able to avoid the same mess from earlier in the race. Afterward, I got my banana and Activia yogurt and asked a little boy to take a picture of me, reGen half-turkey abomination that I was. I wasn't even wearing my beak at that point because it had gotten twisted around my neck and I wanted to make sure that didn't cause problems down the road. This is the result:

There is nothing even remotely turkey-ish about this photo. I just look like someone who made the awkward decision to wear white after Labor Day. And run 8 miles. And wear my race t-shirt around my neck like a cape. Ah, well. It was still a good race and my first ever Dallas Turkey Trot. Hopefully, my race day execution will be a little smoother next year!

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