Friday, November 30, 2012

Turkey Day Trail Trot

Earlier in the month, blogger Lora wrote about the Virtual Run for Hurricane Sandy Recovery she and a friend were organizing. Basically, you'd sign up, pledge a donation that goes straight to the Red Cross, and find a race in November (or just do a run on your own). I think it's the first time Lora and her friend have done a fundraising project of this nature, and they've raised nearly $1,500! Pretty wonderful.

I thought it was a fun idea and signed up, so I was on the prowl for a local turkey trot. My search, though, was pretty restricted: it had to be close enough to St. Paul, and early enough in the day, to allow me to get back home, pick up pup, and scoot over to my parents' house in time for brunch and the rest of the day's festivities. (My priorities lie with brunch!)

Then I found the Turkey Day Trail Trot: a 5K and 10K at nearby Battle Creek, a popular park in the winter with cross-country skiers. I emailed my brother and asked if he wanted to run it with me, and he was up for it! It would be a total fun run for both of us, as neither one had been racking up the miles this fall.

On race day/Thanksgiving, I woke up really early to take Josh to the airport and took Wish for a sunrise walk. That's always a good way to start the day - the sunrise walk, that is.

Then Brother and I went over to the race. The field was capped at 400, which is a pretty nice size that allows for nice race energy but not too many logistics headaches. There was a big parking lot right by the start line, and we checked in easily and did a warm-up shuffle (and I saw my friend Holly from running club!). The sun was rising over these fields of tall grass by the start line, and it was gorgeous. I was excited to try the Battle Creek trails.

Oh, yes. Shorts! The day ended with blowing snow and temperatures in the 30s, but temps that morning were in the 50s. I almost wore a tank top!

The race began. Reader, do you know those runners who take long breaks from running for whatever reason and then crank out amazing results at a race, like, "I took five weeks off and ran a three-minute PR!"? I am totes not one of those runners. I was happy to be out on the trails, but man, I felt sluggish. I wanted to try to run this one as my first harder workout post-marathon. That turned out to be no problem at all, because the trails were ski trails: that means hilly!

There are several trail networks inside the city limits of Minneapolis and St. Paul where it's hard to believe that you're technically in a city, and now I know that Battle Creek is one of them. There were a few spots on the course where you could see railroad tracks just outside the park, but most of the course felt like it was in the middle of nowhere - not five minutes away from the state capitol and downtown St. Paul.

I crossed the finish line totally spent, in 28 minutes and change, and 45th of about 200 runners. There was trail mix at the finish line, which I will always get a kick out of seeing at trail races. All in all, I give this race a thumbs up. (My brother is probably laughing at that endorsement, given how tuckered out I was at the finish line.) It was a good way to explore new trails without heading out there solo, and a fun start to Thanksgiving before the drive and all the food that would follow - and my caramel roll (or two) later in the morning did seem extra-tasty.

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