Monday, November 29, 2010

Mile High Turkey Trot

There are two people I can count on when I want to add some excitement to my life or check off something from my bucket list. One is my husband, Chad and the other is my best friend Malia. Both are up for anything at virtually any time and I've learned through time neither one will bail out on me and are there to help me achieve my goals. For a long time now I've had "Run a 5k" on my list of 'must do in life.' It started with me wanting to do The Bolder Boulder, a 10k a few years ago (which incidentally I never ran) which led to me working out in hopes to get in shape to run a race like that, and finally dumbing down my goal by picking a 5k. I figured, hey even the worst in shape non-runner can complete 4 miles. Well in that time I have become obsessed with yoga, spin and hiking and so the idea of running no longer became as important to me. Yet I still had that desire should the opportunity ever arise. Over this past Thanksgiving it did, in the form of the United Way's Turkey Trot.

A friend had suggested we signed up for this fun run/walk 5k on Thanksgiving day. Said friend had done the race last year and found it to be enjoyable. At the prospect of being with our friends the morning of Thanksgiving and knowing we had no place else to be, Malia and I signed up. As it turns out we were the only ones who signed up because the one person who told us to wasn't able to go. Obviously we were annoyed because our yoga studio was having donation based yoga classes the same day and this Turkey Trot had cost us $40. To make matters worse the weather was in the 20's and neither Malia nor I consider ourselves runners. However, we vowed to make the best of things and approached the race with a positive attitude. If nothing else, I could finally check this off of my life's list.

The amount it costs to run these races has been a deterring factor for me before. I know the money always goes to a good cause, and the United Way does a lot in the community but considering hiking a 14er is free and more thrilling, I all but dismissed paying to do something I could do free (i.e. running around a park). Malia and I showed up at about 8:30am so we could get our numbers and free t-shirts. The race wasn't supposed to start until 10:15 but we wanted to get numbers for the first corral so that we could be first out of the gate and hence finish sooner. You are supposed to pick your corral by how fast you run (and in most races you are assigned based on your times from previous events) but we figured we could handle the first slot if we just stayed in the back so as not to get run over. There were lots of people there, young and old; those dressed up for Thanksgiving with turkey hats and those dressed in state of the art running gear; serious athletes and weekend casual runners; even some with dogs. We stood in the cold for a good half hour while guest speakers made announcements on a podium above the starting line and then we were off.

The race itself was held at Washington Park in Denver. It was a lap around the outside of the park that looped inside and then finished at the top of this hill lined with a beer garden and booths with free goodies. The first two miles were through the street and some of the houses lining the way had bands playing music or people watching outside with their bloody mary's and noise makers cheering us on.

I wasn't sure how I would do running but all my other activities have me in shape enough where I never felt winded or needed a break. Malia however, was not enjoying running so I would get a little ahead of her then stop and wait. She urged me to leave her but I wanted us to cross the finish line together and so I silenced the competitive urge within and kept her pace. After all, this was supposed to be a fun event and it we weren't in this together all the way what was the point? We crossed the finish line exactly one hour after we started which isn't a great time but not bad for people who basically slow jogged/walked the majority of the race. At the end we were greeted with water bottles and free bagels from Einstein as well as energy drinks and pint glasses. According to my friends who have run other races we got jiped in the freebie department but it was just as well because we didn't really want to linger outside any longer than we had too although the temperature had warmed up a bit.

After all was said and done I was glad I participated in the Turkey Trot, a tradition that has been ongoing for 37 years in Denver. If I were to do another race I think I would enjoy something a little more competitive and in a different setting. Part of what makes hiking so alluring to me is that the mountains are spread throughout Colorado and each one has different scenery and terrain. I have been to Washington Park many times, so aside from marveling at the gorgeous houses that line the streets around there, it really wasn't anything I hadn't seen before. I would, however, recommend this race to anyone who is considering starting out running and doesn't have much experience. It would be a great event for families to attend or to give you a break from your family that was in town. I commend the volunteers who donated their time to help with the race and make sure those in attendance were set up and having a great time. As hard as it was for me to get out of bed early and be out in the cold, I can't imagine doing that knowing I wasn't even going to be running - just standing around handing out water! All in all it was a great start to the day especially knowing I could eat Thanksgiving dinner guilt free after burning those calories.

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