Last Thursday morning, I woke up at 5:45 am (4:45 am Chicago-time) and headed into downtown Detroit to run the Detroit Turkey Trot.

Michigan was having a random heat wave and the high for Thanksgiving was 60 degrees (although it was only 40 degrees at race start) so I dressed on the cooler side and wore running crops, a short sleeved shirt, and then a light pullover. I also wore a pair of my mom’s old running gloves that she wouldn’t miss if I decided to toss them during the race.

I also decided to use the race as a fueling test run and had my usual pre-run rice cake with nut butter and almond milk before leaving the house. I’m so used to eating and then going to run 10 minutes later so I wanted to see how if the rice cake held me over until race time (about 2 hours).

Traffic and parking are usually a mess for this race (last year runners were getting out of cars on the highway and running the 1.5 miles to the start line due to the traffic jam) but we went a different way and made it into Detroit in no time. We also found a parking spot relatively easily.

We arrived with well over an hour until race start so my mom and I walked over to Cobo where the Expo and finish line area were set up, looked around, used the restroom, and then kept warm until it was time to head to the start line.

The race start was broken up into three waves based on estimated finish time but like previous years, there were no volunteers monitoring the corrals. When I entered the first corral I saw people from the other two corrals very close to the start line at that point I knew the first few miles were going to be backed up. After the National Anthem (sung by a member of the Detroit Opera House), the race started and we were off.

The first few section of the race is through the old part of downtown. The streets are narrow and the course twists and turns. It’s always slow at this point of the race but this year it was also extremely frustrating due to the poor corral system. I kept running into “walls” of walkers or people running way over the 8:00 min/mile maximum designated by the first corral. I spent most of the first mile weaving and dodging other runners (Mile 1 - 7:03)

We finally broke out into a stretch and I was able to fall into a rhythm. The course was still packed but the street was much wider which alleviated a lot of the congestion. This portion of the race was also on the Thanksgiving Day Parade Route so there were a lot of spectators there to cheer us on (Mile 2 - 6:53).

I spent this mile completely mystified by one of the other runners. He would blaze by me at sub-7 minute miles while pushing a running stroller with two kids but then he would stop for cookies and candy (they were handing them out on the course) for the kids. I was so impressed by his competitive running abilities and by the fact that he would stop for goodies for his kids. How cool. (Mile 3 – 6:56).

The 5k-ers broke off and we had even more room to stretch out across the road. I started to worry that I was running too fast and wouldn’t have time to recover before my runs later in the week but my legs felt good and didn’t feel over worked so I kept right along (Mile 4 – 6:58).

I used this mile to really take everything in. I’ve run the Turkey Trot before but I’m usually so focused on PR-ing that I don’t pay attention to the course. It may not be the prettiest route (the Detroit marathon is a lot nicer) but I tried to take in the people and things around me. It also helped that my music was turned down too low for me to really hear it (Mile 5 – 7:04).

The last mile was mentally tough. I started to get really hot, tossed my gloves, and started to roll up the sleeves of my pullover but it didn’t feel like enough. My legs wanted to pick up the pace and finish strong but I didn’t want to do anything that might slow my recovery so I tried my best to keep a constant pace. It helped that we were running straight into the wind too, definitely kept me at a slower pace (Mile 6 – 6:51).

Everything was going great, I ran by Cobo, saw my mom, and headed down the ramp to the 10k finish only to run into a huge crowd of runners. I slowed down to a walk and was forced to walk the last bit of the course. I’m glad I wasn’t trying to PR, that would have been incredibly annoying (Last .2 – 1:52).

My watch was a little off (I’m sure from all of the weaving) and had me running 6.28 miles in 43:39 for an average of 6:57 min/miles.

After finishing, I received my medal for the 30th anniversary of the Turkey Trot (they actually ran out), found my mom, and headed back home.

Ultimately, I am very happy with how I did last Thursday. I ran a strong race that didn’t tire my legs out and I was able to keep up my training the rest of the weekend. It was also nice to see how much my running has improved. Last year after running just a bit faster, I could barely run the next day, but this year I felt fine. It makes me wonder how fast I could have run had I rested the day before and gone out there ready to race!

I also think that there were some major problems in organization on the Turkey Trots side but I still had a good time. Hopefully these issues will be resolved before next year’s race!