On Thursday, I ran the Florence Turkey Trot, my second (ever) Thanksgiving race. Clay and I are usually traveling on Thanksgiving morning or either hosting Thanksgiving, so I was happy I could Turkey Trot on the biggest road racing day of the year.
About Florence Turkey Trot
In its third year, the Florence Turkey Trot brings a 5K/10K to the neighborhoods of downtown Florence (South Carolina). The race is directed by Festival Promotions, based in Myrtle Beach, and Carolina Running Company times the race, and seeing my friends Belinda and Greg, who were there to time, was a big reason why I chose this race.
The Florence Turkey Trot course is held on a certified 5K and 10K course. The certified course also made this race a no-brainer because most races in the Florence area are not held on certified courses, and 90% of them are short. I hate short courses because I can never legitimately PR and it doesn’t even register the full distance on my watch (I feel cheated!).
This is one of the few 10K Turkey Trots I’ve ever seen, and it’s neat to give runners a couple of distance options. In fact, this 10K course was where I ran my first 10K in 2010.
I’ve since learned that longer doesn’t always equal better, so I signed up for the 5K.
My Race Experience
I got to the race almost an hour early to pick up my number, shirt, warm up, and go to the potty. For a small-town Turkey Trot, I saw a lot of people! The 5K had 210 runners and the 10K had around 70, but some families came out to cheer. I talked to a few runners who were from out of town and visiting family. The race was very well attended for the area, but Florence isn’t exactly the mecca of health and fitness, so even Charleston’s okayest runner had a good shot of placing overall.
I did my usual 2 mile jog warmup, mostly on the race course, and noticed quite a few potholes that I needed to look out for in Mile 1/Mile 3. The temperature warmed up quickly for a beautiful Fall day, so I left my hoodie and gloves at the timing tent. The 5Kers started 3 minutes ahead of the 10Kers, but right around 8:30 AM.
The first mile of this course was a sneaky downhill. I hardly noticed the downhill because I was in the racing zone and living in Charleston, I’m used to flat terrain. After running the James Island Connector Run and Georgetown Bridge 2 Bridge Half, flat road feels like a downhill. I saw one lady ahead of me and passed her about 1/4 mile into the race. I wasn’t aware of any other ladies ahead of me.
I hit the first mile marked and looked at my Garmin. When I saw 6:33, I knew I went out too fast. I muttered some choice words and kept going. The second mile had a substantial (even for Florence) hill, but my legs handled it well because of all the hilly races lately. I passed by the water stations and saw lots of familiar faces who were walking and a few 10Kers. I was in the zone, but my friend Morgan says she yelled first female when I ran by. I clocked 7:00 for Mile 2.
In Mile 3, I paid back my banked time, with interest. The mile was a slight climb, and I figured out that I had a pretty substantial lead over any other ladies. The race didn’t have a really fast field, and without many guys to pick off, I probably got a little complacent. I tried not to mentally do the math to see if I’d PR because that wastes mental energy, but it’s hard not to. I never look at my watch at Mile 3 because it’s so close to the end, but my split was 7:11.
I turned the corner, ran hard (the last .1 was also a slight uphill), and was happy to see 21 on the clock. I logged 3.15 miles in 21:47 and finished first female overall.
I caught my breath, congratulated the other finishers, and waited for my friend Lisa to finish before we went on a 2 mile cooldown. We ran back down the 10K course to cheer on those runners and thank the volunteers. This race had a lot of great volunteers who gave up part of their holiday morning to direct, cheer for, and help us runners, and that means a lot.
The awards ceremony was pretty no-frills, with medals for the overall and age group winners. Florence is a railroad town, so that’s why the medal and shirt feature a train. The turkey is being chased by the pain train. Everyone got the same medals whether we placed overall or in our age groups. I was fine with the medal, since it represented a 5K PR and a fun race.
I hope to pace better when I run the Charleston Reindeer Run 5K next Saturday. When you set a 1 mile PR in the first mile of a 5K, you’re gonna have a hard time, but Thanksgiving lunch and dessert taste even better after a PR and an overall win.
Race Name: Florence Turkey Trot 5K/10K
Location: Florence, SC
Date and Time: November 26, 2015, 8:30 AM
Entry fee: 5K: $25-30, 10K: $30-35
Course: All paved, road, neighborhoods with a few inclines. USTAF Certified.
Swag: Short sleeved cotton t-shirt. Soft shirt with fun graphic.
Post-race Food: Apples, water, cookies, pretzels, crackers. Who wants heavy refreshments at a Thanksgiving race anyway?
Weather: 54 degrees, 83% humidity, 8 mph NE wind. Beautiful Fall day!