Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chasing the Turkey

We always go to my mother-in-law's house for Thanksgiving. I love it there. I love being at her house, I love all my in-laws, and I love where she lives. My only sadness this year (well, apart from not being able to eat all my usual favorite Thanksgiving Day foods because of food allergies) was not being in town for our "Turkey Trot" race. I knew it was going to be a fairly small event, but with all the familiar faces of the local runners I love seeing at races. So, I decided to find out if there would be a race where we were going...and lo and behold, I found one!!

The Inaugural Bluffton Turkey Chase was being held about 30 minutes away from Mom's house! I talked to my husband about registering for the race; I didn't want to offend his family by being gone that morning, and didn't want to stress anyone out by having my own (selfish) agenda. At the same time, with all my food allergies, knowing I wasn't going to be able to eat any of the yummy food, I really wanted something fun to look forward to on Thanksgiving. The day before the race he said he not only thought it would be a good idea, he said he was considering registering himself as well.

Now...let me say he used to be an elite (local) runner. He wouldn't compete with the Kenyans or anything, but he won a lot of his college cross country races, and was a front-of-the-pack runner in the handful of other-than-college races he entered. His best one mile time was in the 4's, and his usual 5K and 15K pace was in the low 5's. He was fast...back in the day. That was about 25 or so years ago ...:::cough::: and 25 or so pounds ago as well :::cough:::... , and long before he practically shattered his ankle in a non-running-related accident. Although he sporadically works out on the elliptical, let me just say he is not in the best of shape to go out and run a 5K.

But...at the same time, I know him well enough to know he wouldn't do anything to hurt himself.  He's had a full physical and has recently been to the cardiologist who said he has a very strong heart. That said, I was thrilled with the possibility of running a race with him....and yet, I knew he would NOT be able to keep up with me if I decided to RACE. I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, bragging...I'm just telling it like it is. I've been running and he hasn't....and he has a gimpy ankle.

He made it very clear that I could do what ever I wanted to do-run with him or race on my own...or start out with him and then take off mid-race. But, I was internally very torn. There was a huge part of me that wanted to just RACE the thing and see exactly what I could do under the veil of anonymity! No pressure to perform, and absolutely no expectations from anyone for anything. I had a great run the day before and was feeling pretty spunky. Although it was a little warm, it was NICE running weather and it looked to be a flat, fast course....and it seemed to be a very small race (read: less competition!).

BUT, this might be my "only" chance at running with the love of my life...a chance I didn't want to take for granted. We registered that morning without any idea what I was going to do (his plan was to just walk/run/finish). I did a full on warm up (complete with butt-kickers and high knees and a good half mile or so topped off with a couple little wind sprints) ...while he took in the scenery. As we were waiting to start I continued to debate what I would do (run with him or not).  He started talking smack, saying if I wanted to beat him I needed to do it early on because if I waited to the sprint for the finish he would smoke my ham.

I should have realized what was happening.  But I didn't.

I not only bit the bait, I swallowed it hook, line and sinker. I agreed to run with him, and we decided to run 5 minutes and walk 1 minute, at a pace set by him, and then we'd race to the finish when we got to the last tenth of a mile.


They sounded the horn and we were off.  Since this race was called the "Turkey Chase" they had someone wearing a turkey hat on a bike out in front leading the way--CUTE.  We very quickly lost sight of him...but we were still running MUCH faster than I would have EVER started on my own.  Our first run interval was at a pace of between 7:39-9:17!!

Again, I should have realized what was happening.  But I didn't.

My "poor" husband was wheezing and huffing and puffing.  I kept saying we were starting off too fast, that there was no way he'd be able to keep that pace up the whole time.  He told me I needed to go ahead and leave him but at that pace, I was doing good just to keep up!  But, I knew it was only for 5 minutes and then we'd have a walk break so it was all good.  At the end of our 60 second reprieve, my dear husband sounded like he was going to keel over.  I kept asking him if he needed to walk longer and he kept telling me NO.  We slowed down each interval after that.

We were passed by the woman in the knee brace.  We were passed by the man we met at the start who said he never runs.  We were passed by the woman pushing the baby jogger.  We were passed by the 5 year old running with his grandmother.  Then we were passed by the man walking with the oxygen tank.  Only kidding about that last part, but at one point I heard sirens and was CONVINCED someone had heard my darling husband gasping for air and decided to call 911.  Yes, it was REALLY that bad.  The whole time we were running, I felt GREAT.  I'm pretty sure I couldn't have maintained that initial pace he set for the whole race, but maybe I could have done it using the interval method.  But he seemed like he was doing good just to continue to move forward much less to keep running.

With each interval he made it appear to be harder and harder to keep going the full time, but he did...until we neared the end of the race.  He said he wanted to shorten our last run interval (before the sprint to the finish) and then lengthen our last walk interval.  That would mean we would be walking up to where we would sprint in the last little bit.

In the final run interval he told me, again, if I wanted to beat him I needed to leave him there.  I was so consumed with worry for my dear, darling, out of shape husband I didn't want to leave him on the course.   At the same time, I was terrified that he would hurt himself trying to beat me.  I had visions of me blissfully flying through the finish only to look back to see him collapsed on the road.  But he assured me he was fine.


And again...I should have realized what was happening.  But I didn't.

As we were walking to the start of our own personal race to the finish the people were cheering and clapping for the man they thought wouldn't make it this far...oblivious to what was about to happen.  We had planned to round the final corner and take off...which we did.

I could hear Daisy in my head telling me what a great finish line kick I have and I was feeling especially spunky because of the lack of effort I had to give on the course...and I shot ahead the first, oh, maybe 50 FEET.

I'll pause here and ask you...do you know the meaning of the word "sandbagging"??  I always thought it was just someone who wasn't giving their full effort.  But, no.  Sandbagging, according to the Urban Dictionary is actually "when a player in any game chooses (on purpose) to not play their best. Normally this is because they are too superior, they want to hustle you...."

It was at the moment my darling, formerly wheezing, huffing, puffing, lolly-gagging, SANDBAGGING husband SHOT past me that I finally realized what had happened.  I was consoled ONLY by the fact I had refused to put a bet for anything other than bragging rights on the line!!  The crowd was laughing hysterically because I was screaming "YOU CHEATER!!  YOU STINKING CHEATER" as he surged ahead of me with apparent ease as I was running my shoes off as fast as my legs could carry me.  (So fast in fact that my hat flew off my head!)

He told me later that I would have easily beat him if I had left him early...and that he had completely orchestrated the finish, lengthening the walk break so as to maximize his recovery in order to give him enough umph for the finishing sprint.  (My fastest pace in that finish....4:19!!!)

I was chasing the turkey alright...but it wasn't the kid on the bike I was trying to catch!!

(BTW, he was at least sore the next couple of days.  Serves him right.  Stinking sandbagging cheater!!)

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!  :D

1 comment:

Don't hold back, tell it like it is....