|First long sleeve T-shirt and a first place trophy for my age group.|
I met up with Jason just before the race. He had to drive across town, I basically drove across my street to get to the race. The HELPline Turkey Trot 5K takes place at the UA Huntsville campus, which is literally one minute from my house. The temperatures seemed to be in the high 30s or low 40s at best. While I was cold when I first walked over to the starting line, the almost 1400 runners surrounding me made it comfortably warm. I lined up in the second or third row, lots of runners ahead of me. This made my start slower than I usually prefer because I was dodging runners quite a bit. That's kind of expected when you have that many folks participate. The atmosphere was great and because of the out and back nature of the course, you had runners coming and going all the way. That was actually quite energizing to me.
I think the congestion at the race start actually helped me a little, since I wasn't able to start too fast. I was staying just behind Jason pretty much the entire race and he ended up finishing just about 8 seconds ahead of me. I felt a little sluggish and heavy legged during the first mile, but I resisted checking my splits during the entire race. I don't think that is the reason I didn't break 20 this time around. Rather, the short and challenging hill during the final half mile of the race probably did me in. At least that seems to be where I slowed down significantly.
While I wasn't happy to have finished in 20:14, I couldn't believe my eyes when I checked the results. I figured I was way behind everyone else, but when I saw that I finished 33rd overall out of almost 1300 runners and 1st in my age group out of 66 runners, I couldn't believe it. No PR, but a top age group finish. Not too shabby. After binge eating later today and Black Friday shopping on Friday (what else), I will be participating in the Skinny Turkey 10K in Guntersville, Alabama, if I can find the race location;-)
Final note: The ankle brace held up nicely, I didn't have any issues with rolling my ankle at all, thank goodness. However, it has also become clear to me that while I can wear this brace during straining runs and shorter races, this will not be an option for any marathon or beyond distances. I will be spending some time over the next week trying to research and learn how to tape my ankle.