Monday, November 26, 2012

Review of The 45th Annual Capital One Bank Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot

I ran the Dallas Turkey Trot for the first time this past Thanksgiving and it was quite the experience.  This was my fourth race to run ever and I knew it would be a large race in terms of how many people would participate, but I am not sure I was prepared for over 30,000 people running with me. 

The scene in front of me approximately 35 minutes before the race started.
Humanity begins massing behind me to start the race.  By the time the race started, over 30,000 people had lined up.
The atmosphere of the race felt very carnival like to me with face painting, bounce houses, live music, radio stations reporting live from the race site and other family oriented activities on site.

The weather for the race was absolutely gorgeous with lots of sunshine and high clouds.  The temperatures were in the upper 50s and the wind, when blowing was very light.  A perfect day for running. 

The event had starting lines for the timed runners and depending on what you thought your average per mile time would be is where you lined up.  For me I took a chance and lined up at the 8:45 - 9:15 line and waited 35 minutes for the start to happen.  During the wait, people were loosening up by stretching, jumping in place, and hitting the occasional oversized beach ball that was floating among the crowd.  Some people even started dancing to the Village People's "YMCA" as it played during this time.

At 8:59 participants in wheelchairs were started, so that they could have a head start on those of us running behind them.  At 9:00 the horn sounded and we started filing towards the starting line.  Notice I said "filing" towards the starting line.  I estimate that between me and the official starting line, there were probably 300 people with blue racing bibs on, meaning they had paid to be timed during this race.  So when the horn sounded, you had 300 people moving to get started.  I was towards the back of the 300, so I needed to shuffle and walk to the starting gate.

When I arrived at the starting gate and started my run on Nike+ on my iPhone, I saw why it had taken me almost a minute and a half to simply move 400 feet.  The crowd had surged from the initial 300 or so to literally thousands of people ahead of me!  Everyone the announcers had asked to move to the back of the line, people with strollers, people with dogs on leashes, people with yellow race bibs on who had not paid to be timed, were in front of me!

It wasn't until I watched the race on TV Saturday that I saw why this had happened.  People who were participating in the race, regardless of how they were participating, had lined up on both sides of the street ahead of the start gate and when the timed runners started, they jumped in the front of the runners!  It took me over 2 1/2 minutes to weave my way past strollers, dogs on leashes, walkers and very slow runners, just to get to the point that I could open up my racing pace and get moving.  This is the one takeaway from this race that I was sorely disappointed in.  I firmly believe that if people like me are going to pay extra to be timed in a race event, then the organizers of the event should make a way for those paying extra to be able to start the race without interference from those who chose not to be timed.  I wonder what my time for this race would have been if I had not had to dodge and weave those first few minutes of the race.

My first mile pace?

Once I was past the slower throngs of people and animals and strollers, I caught up with the other runners and matched pace with quite a few.  I have to admit that running through Dallas' Deep Ellum District was really cool and viewing the downtown skyscrapers really made this run memorable.  

My second mile pace?

Once I hit mile two, I started getting my second wind and I hit a really good pace.  I had set the Nike+ running app to provide me with an update as to my distance and pace every minutes, so I knew about where I was distance wise, as well as how much further I had to go, and what my pace was.  With that I could calculate about when I would finish this race.  Between mile two and three, I decided to really go all out and see if I could break that 30 minute barrier I had been trying to reach.

My third mile pace?

After I hit the third mile marker, I was beginning to tire, but I made the decision to not stop, nor slow down.  I felt I could make it in under 30 minutes and I was not going to quit.  At the end I crossed the finish line strong, then slowed down and stopped to catch my breath.  I have to admit the last two tenths of a mile where the hardest.

But I did it.  I crossed the finish line officially at 29:25 for my fourth Personal Record in a row. 

I'll be honest here; I really think that I could have crossed the finish around 27 minutes or so, but for having to dodge the crowd at the beginning.  Nonetheless, I'm happy with the results.  Next year I'll know where to place myself to start the race.  Next year I'll be faster.  Next year I'll be running the eight mile race.

My race results from the Turkey Trot
Overall this is a fun race with lots of activities for the entire family.  It is a race that I will bring the family to next year, and one that I highly encourage all of you to attend in one way or another.

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