..get it…cause Chanukah fell on Thanksgiving?..anyone?..tough room.
Anyway, the day finally came, my first race “back”, the Inaugural Turkey Trot LA.
2013 is the very first year of this (hopefully) annual race, taking place on the shut-down streets of Down-Town Los Angeles, Ca on Thanksgiving morning. The race included 5k, 10k and half mile “Widdle Wobble” options. They were also selling Thanksgiving pies by Homeboy Industries as well as T-shirts and hoodies to commemorate the race. I of course went for the 5k.
As I don’t get the opportunity to ride the metro (subway) terribly often I was very excited that this race was promoted as being very public transport accessible. Unfortunately as stoked as I was to test out said accessibility, turns out when you set your alarm for 6:00 am Saturday, it does not help you get up for a race on a Thursday – yeh I’m not a thinker sometimes what do you want from me.
Pro Tip: Setting an early alarm for a Saturday is great for being woken up on time…unless it’s Wednesday, and your race is on THURSDAY!
So I wake up with a start about an hour before the guns going to go off. I shove a piece of toast in my body, throw my sweet ensemble on and head out the door; frantically texting my race buddy about what an idiot I am – the news doesn’t surprise her at all, sigh.
So stoked to race I’m shooting sunshine out of my finger tips
Parking was extremely well organized, with traffic guards directing us into one of two driveways to ensure parking went quickly and streets weren’t backed up. The race had taken over a massive parking structure and offered parking for a flat rate of $10.00 for the race; along with an option to prepay to get it at a slightly discounted rate. Because of my intention to take the subway, and running late, I neither had prepaid my parking nor did I have enough cash to pay for it (cash only, no credit cards). Bless the guys heart that let me get away with $3.00.
Walking to the race I noticed two things:
- I was already out costumed in my tutu by a guy in a full head to toe turkey costume
- We were walking down a GIANT hill that had a mile marker on it…shit were we going to have to run up this bad boy?
The streets of downtown LA completely shut down for the race.
Packet pick-up was quick and organized as well. They had it set up by bib number which I was able to look up on a board. Swag was just a kick-ass trucker hat, which I was good with, and our timing chip which would be attached to our shoes then returned. Gear check is what I think the need-to-work-on factor is for them. There were only 2 lines and 4 people working the booth; and their gear organization consisted of throwing everything in a plastic bag, sharpeeing our bib number on it, and throwing them into a pile – not the smartest or most efficient system.
I was out tutu’d by a dog. Least she was cute.
Racers hanging out by the vendors waiting to line-up
The MC (announcer) was good at getting the crowd psyched up and letting us know when to get to the start line. The only problem there was the speakers allotted to him were the ones next to the starting line. If you were in the back near the (minimal) vendors and the packet pick-up area, all you heard was loud music, which leaves room for people to miss the announcements. In my humble opinion, next year they should make sure he could be heard throughout the entire venue.
Once the gun went off, Tricia and I bobbed and weaved our way through a few people to get some space to breathe. Tricia, you’ll remember, is my speed demon friend from an earlier post. I decided I would try to do my best to keep up with her – even though on her slowest day she’s 2.5 minutes faster than me. We had plenty of room on the nice wide closed down roads and for the first block or so I was A-OK. Then we turned a corner and it was straight up that nasty hill, then around a second corner for ANOTHER nasty hill. I made the mistake of trying to go full speed with Tricia and waaay over exerted myself during the toughest and earliest part of the course.
Gorgeous Giant Christmas Tree we stretched by and of course posed at. PS say hi to Tricia!
Running through the streets where the road mercifully flattened out.
Good news is what goes up must come down and we were soon shooting down a nice long hill and back on to flat ground. Aside from a slight incline at the finish line the race was completely flat from here. Crowd support was dismal for the most part but that’s to be expected given it’s a new race and it was about 8:00am. It was super cool running down the cities deserted streets with its massive buildings and hipster-esque coffee shops. We did get a little bit of cheering in the form of some playful dogs that voiced their disdain in not being able to join us.
The race participants came in all shapes and sizes. I saw parents trying to keep toddlers focused enough to jog with them, several people who were running their first race, a couple strollers, and even a guy kicking some ass in a head controlled Power Chair. The Power Chair particularly warmed my heart as I volunteer with a child who has just been approved for a similar chair, and was thrilled by the idea that she could someday race in some capacity as well.
Water stations were at about miles 1ish and 2ish, the volunteers did a great job of holding them out for those not intending to stop and walk. On the flip side the racers were all kind enough to thank the volunteers which is nice. I, of course, forgot my headphones which allowed me to take the time to enjoy the Urban landscape I was running through.
I was at a pretty steady 11:00 miles 1-2.5 and then all of sudden my steam had just COMPLETELY run out. I was walk/running the last .7 miles, finally getting some energy the last .2 to sprint when I saw that finish line. I ended up running my slowest 5k ever with an 11:30 minute mile. The way I see it, I have a time to beat.
The finish area was the top of a slight incline and is the most major area that needed some work. We had timing chips attached to our shoes that had to go back, and said go-back was about 5 steps inside the finish line causing quite the frustrating back up when crossing it. From there, the water/banana station was a few feet further directly in the middle of the finish line area, which wouldn’t have been an issue had there not been barricades on either side causing a bottle neck situation. last thing you want to do after running with tons of space is to be stuck in a bottleneck with lots of other sweaty bodies.
I met up with Tricia -who CRUSHED me to the point of getting 8th in our age group, she continues to impress me – and set off to pick up my “gear” (see: hoodie) and see what else there was to see. The 10k’ers were dropping of their gear at the same time the 5k’ers were picking ours up. So pick-up was a giant mess as we had to wait in those same two lines and then remain patient while they sifted through non-organized piles of identical plastic bags.
Once my hoodie was recovered we looked around to see if there was any kind of finish line party or refreshments/samples being given out and gave up after a yummy couple sips of Coconut Water. Getting out of the parking lot was a breeze and then it was off to IHOP (Pancake House) along with apparently every other family in Los Angeles to celebrate the race.
Official Time: 35:31 at 11:27mm
Celebrating our finish (and Tricia placing 9th in her age-group)
All in all I did very much enjoy the race and would definitely do it again next year, gnarly hills and all. The people working and volunteering all had great attitude and were as helpful as they could be with any questions or concerns that were brought to them. If I were to suggest any changes to the race they would be:
- Organize a better system for storing gear
- Readjust the speakers so the announcer could be heard throughout
- Move both the chip return and the banana station much further back and outside the barricades.
- Maybe add a bit of a finish line festival/ more vendors (which I’m sure will come naturally with time).
My personal changes would be:
- Again, be better about conserving my energy in the beginning of the race.
- Eat much more than one piece of toast to ensure I have more energy throughout the race
- Do some morning running to get my body more used to exerting that kind of energy first thing. I do all my running in the evening.
- Hit some hills at least once a week – as much as I don’t want to.
Now time to look for a 10k!!