Everyone warned me about the hills.
Somehow, the constant rise and swell of the YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase Turkey Trot 10K course still took me by surprise. Spectators even held signs saying: “Love those hills!”
Steve and I decided ahead of time we’d be running this race to have a good time, not to run one. My recently adopted chilled-out approach led to a surprisingly good 5K a couple weeks ago — could it lead to a speedy 10K on Thanksgiving morning?
I passed each of the first two mile markers in 7:50 minutes — on pace for a PR and feeling surprisingly great despite the hills. Buoyed by the knowledge that as recently as Tuesday, I’d held a solid 8:10-minute-mile pace in the hills with my running group, I pushed on.
I may have slowed down a bit by mile 3, but it wasn’t until the 4-mile marker that I felt like my muscles literally slammed on the brakes. Soon, my stupid sensitive stomach joined the party by reminding me that I’d spent the day yesterday munching on the Thanksgiving goodies I was prepping rather than carefully monitoring my pre-race diet.It became clear my chilled-out approach wasn’t going to lead to my running a great time this time around.
But it was a turkey trot, for goodness sake — is there any better time to chill out and not worry about one’s time? I was having a terrible race, but I could still have an awesome run. I didn’t stop trying, per se, but I definitely threw a nice, comfortable 9-minute mile in there. I was going slow enough to take in the throngs of students home for the holidays proudly wearing their college sweatshirts and fleeces. I watched dads coaching their tweenage sons to hold a steady pace, and moms tackling the killer hills with double baby joggers. The whole experience gave me a sense of contentment no PR could have, and when I crossed the finish line in 52:46, I couldn’t stop talking about how much fun I’d had.
For a more detailed course and race review, check out my Examiner.com post here.
Steve seconded my easygoing approach, and even one-upped me. When I asked what his time was, he shrugged, and told me he hadn’t even bothered to start his watch.
Easy pace notwithstanding, those hills made sure we still got an awesome workout. And after eating hills for breakfast, our Thanksgiving feast that afternoon tasted even better.