For someone who runs a lot of races, I don’t have a big history with turkey trots.
Typically, we travel over Thanksgiving and in the past, have travelled to visit Clay’s family on Thanksgiving morning. I ran the Florence Turkey Trot (where I PRed the first mile AND the 5K- with a very ugly final mile). In 2016, I planned to run a Turkey Trot but was injured with ITBS.
Thanksgiving is the biggest running and racing day of the year, and despite my slow recovery from the Lexington Half Marathon and a calf strain, I was determined to be a part of it. I debated between the Hartsville SC Turkey Trot, which is less than five minutes from my inlaws house, and the Florence race, which is about 25 minutes away.
With all my jankiness, I waited until the morning of the race to sign up, and the Hartsville YMCA Turkey Trot 5K was $30 compared to $40 for the Florence 5K.
My broken body and broken budget obviously chose the Hartsville race.
A lot of runners won’t race when they’re not 100%, but if I did that, I’d never run a race. I set my goals according to how I feel the week and day of the race, so my goals for this race were to log some miles (because I’d want to run anyway), socialize with friends, and feel justified in eating my mother-in-law’s delicious chocolate layer cake.
I woke up at 6 AM and left the house at 7 AM for the five minute drive to the YMCA. It was the shortest race commute I’ve had in a long time, and registration was quick and easy. I got my shirt and number and headed out for a warmup. The temperature was chilly but not bad for a race, so I wore my Charleston Running Club singlet, shorts, gloves, and calf sleeve.
I was the female wearing the least amount of clothes at the start line, and I still didn’t win. Training helps.
After some announcements and a prayer (this is how you know you’re racing in a small Southern town), we were off just after 8 AM. The Hartsville Turkey Trot had 500+ runners and is the biggest race in the area. The start was super crowded and in typical turkey trot fashion, the kids at the front took off way too fast. We turned a few sharp curves, then hit a straight stretch of road for much of the first mile (7:04).
I settled in with a pack of ladies, and all of us pushed each other. In the second mile (7:10), we hit a gradual uphill and a rather steep downhill, which I took really easy and got passed. Downhill running is a challenge for me, and I wanted to be safe rather than sorry with my calf. We also turned- a lot. I haven’t run this course since 2012 and forgot how curvy it is.
Mile 3 (7:35) had a substantial hill- for Hartsville- and after the race, some runners talked about how they did hill repeats on that hill. I’m glad I didn’t know that before the race, because I would’ve been pretty nervous. A spectator was yelling places out to the women, but apparently missed the top two females. Oops. At least she had good intentions, though!
Since I wasn’t super familiar with the course, my sign that the race was almost over was passing by one of the local churches I passed on the drive up. My legs were struggling after the hill and from not feeling that great in general. Two ladies passed me in the last mile, and I knew a few others were on my heels. I just tried not to get passed.
I road the Pain Train to the finish in 22:40, fast enough for first place in my age group. My friend Nicole took a super impressive ugly race photo at the finish.
After the race ended, I congratulated a few of the ladies near me, then headed out to cool down with Robbie and some locals. We got a few more miles in on the race course, cheering for other runners and thanking volunteers. I also talked to the Darlington High School XC coach Rich and his wife Lori. The local XC kids dominated this race- with both the male and female overall winners and second place finishers being high school runners. Darlington County has a pretty impressive crop of young runners for this area!
Once I finished cooling down and chatting, I put on all the warm clothes and waited for awards. I wish the award ceremony was sooner so that I could get home and get warm, but thankfully we had the YMCA to stay warm before and after the race. The awards ceremony was outside, and while I hate leaving before ALL the awards are given out, I took off once they called my age group.
While my turkey trot wasn’t fast or well executed, I’m thankful I could run somewhere different and be a part of a race and running community so much bigger than myself, before spending time with family. Thanksgiving is a day to be grateful, and I’m grateful to be running with the setbacks I’ve had in 2017 and in the past few weeks.
Race Name: Hartsville SC Turkey Trot 5K
Location: Hartsville, SC
Date and Time: November 23, 2017, 8:00 AM
Course: Road, USATF Certified, many turns and small hills.
Swag: Long sleeved cotton shirt.
Post-race Food: Bananas, water, coffee (this was popular). No beer. Turkey trots are one event that can get away with few refreshments, since we all plan to pig out in a few hours.
Weather: 37 degrees, 70% humidity, 7 mph NNE wind.