Thanksgiving, The Turkey Trot, and The “Peak” Week

The Rocket City Marathon is less than two weeks away, and I’m getting excited. Excited to add another state to the “completed” list, take a trip to Alabama, and wrap up the Fall 2013 marathon season. Last week was my “peak week” of training for the race, topping out at 51 miles. It included a track workout, the Bethlehem Turkey Trot, a general aerobic run, a recovery run, a medium long run, and a long run. I’m enjoying being back into a routine, but looking forward to starting fresh and scaling back my mileage after the marathon as I begin to prepare for my spring races.

It was a nice change of pace to get out on the track last week. By the time I was scheduled to complete track workouts in the spring and fall, I was injured. Prior to Marshall, I did several tempo runs, but zero work on the track. Last Monday, I headed to Muhlenberg for an 8 mile run with 5×800 meters at 5K pace. I realize that a few track workouts probably won’t change much at this point, but I enjoyed it anyway. I’m looking forward to spring track workouts as I begin preparations for Boston (and my other spring marathons, of course). My new gym has an indoor track, so when the outdoor tracks are covered in snow, I won’t have to worry about suffering through intervals on a treadmill.

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Thanksgiving rolled around, and I always run on Thanksgiving. I did a seven mile general aerobic run that included some of the infamous Honeysuckle Road hills. It was dark out when I began so I only did part of my run on the mountain, but it was enough to get some hills in and kick my ass before spending the rest of the day eating. As I descended the mountain and headed home, I was confronted by two dogs. Honeysuckle Road is somewhat of a back road so I understand owners letting their dogs out. The dogs jumped the electric fence and growled at me in the middle of the road until their owners called them in. The owners saw me, but they didn’t acknowledge my presence or seem to think there was a problem. This wasn’t my first encounter with dogs while running, and it always gets me fired up.

WARNING: If you are a dog lover, you may want to skip the following rant. Maybe it means I’m a terrible person, but I’m not a dog lover. I like my friends dogs, but I really dislike strange dogs. I’ll admit it: I’m afraid of them – particularly larger breeds. Personally, dogs off a leash in an area where they can end up in the middle of a road or chasing after pedestrians, runners, and cyclists is unacceptable. I’m sure Thursday wasn’t the first time that those dogs jumped the electric fence, especially since the owners didn’t seem concerned by the situation. It’s dangerous for people passing by to be confronted by dogs (particularly aggressive dogs), and dangerous for the dogs to be in the middle of the road. Never mind the people or animals they are chasing after: they could end up being the cause of an accident, or get hit by a car. I’ve been out running in the parkway or on other local trails, and owners are constantly walking their dogs without leashes. I disagree with this. You never know when even the best behaved dog is going to take off after something, or just snap at someone. It’s just my opinion, but dogs belong on a leash or in an area where they can’t roam free.

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After my encounter with the dogs, I finished my run and headed over to the Bikram studio for a sweaty Thanksgiving day yoga session. It was good to warm up after being out in the cold and great to stretch out from the run. I had a different instructor this time, but she was just as good and my positive opinion of the studio remains unchanged. Seems like a lot of work for a holiday, but I was showered, cleaned up, caffeinated and cooking with my mom by 11:30 a.m. Between the good company of my family and friends, the delicious food, the run, and the yoga, it was a great holiday.

20131130-142958.jpgThe Bethlehem Turkey Trot was held on Saturday. I’m not really sure why it’s not held on Thanksgiving – maybe because they don’t want to compete with other local races. I couldn’t decide between Saturday’s Turkey Trot or the Pumpkin Pie 5K on Thanksgiving. Based on what I’d planned mileage-wise for the week, the Turkey Trot fit better into my schedule and is closer to my house. I’ve done both races in the past and know that both courses are a little bit hilly. On one hand, the Turkey Trot has better shirts. On the other hand, if you place at the Pumpkin Pie race, you can win a pie. I really like pie. Since I had the track workout earlier in the week and overindulged a lot little on Thanksgiving goodies, I wasn’t sure if a fast 5K was in the cards. After some debate I chose the Turkey Trot since it fit into my schedule, was closer to home, and has decent swag.

The morning of the race was cold and sunny, but thankfully no wind. The race start was 9 a.m., which meant I could sleep in. The start is behind the Hotel Bethlehem and is flat for about the first half mile, as it begins on Old York Road. As you turn right onto Union Boulevard, the climbing begins. There’s a hill on Union, and as you climb it you turn right onto Main Street and continue the ascent until the corner of Main Street and Broad Street. It’s not that it’s a particularly steep hill, it’s just long. Once the downhill on Main Street begins, it’s easy to kick up the pace because it’s downhill shot for the rest of the first mile and into the second mile. The second mile starts flat and heads towards the towpath, but turns around at the cul-de-sac to head back. Around mile 2.5, you’re climbing again as the course loops around the Bethlehem Library. From the top of that hill, it’s all downhill to the finish.

The first set of hills seem so easy because it’s at the start of the race and your adrenaline just takes over. I was on pace to PR until I hit the library hill at mile 2.5 and started to lose time. I lost the chance to PR at that point, but I knew could still get relatively close. I ended up running a 20:40 (15 seconds off of my PR), placing 1st in my age group, the 4th female overall, and the 44th finisher out of 1,398 runners. I haven’t touched my 5K PR in a long time, so I was thrilled to come close and to win my age group! Such a fun morning.

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Between the track workout, my Thanksgiving run, and the Turkey Trot, last week was pretty eventful. At this point, I have one more key workout (another track workout) and it’s all about the taper to Rocket City!

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