Our Oceanside Turkey Trot started about 3 months ago. I asked a friend on Strava what he was doing for thanksgiving and he said he was running the 5 mile OTT and invited me to join. I looked it up and it met a few key requirements (a) proximity (b) nice distance (c) races for the kids to do
I asked Mrs. L and our conversation went something like this:
Mr. L: What do you think about us running the Oceanside Turkey Trot? It’s 5 miles and …
Mrs. L: Yes
Mr. L: There’s a kids race as well. Should…
Mrs. L: Yes
And thus we signed up our 7 year old son OL for the 1 mile kid’s race and our 5 year daughter WL for the 0.25 mile kids race and Mrs. L and I for the 5 mile.
Our training program went something like this. Tell me if you see a pattern.
The kids ride their bikes with Mrs. L to school every day and twice a week Mrs. L took them for a 1 mile run. On Sundays we do a family bike ride of about 5 to 7 miles.
Mrs. L does a 10 mile-ish ride about 4 days a week and a 15 to 20 mile ride on the weekends. She runs about a 4 to 5 mile run once or twice a week.
I ride every day and try and do 2 or 3 hard rides a week. I do an easy run on Mondays (somewhere between 5 and 10 miles depending on how I feel) and a really hard run on Wednesdays (usually 2 to 5 miles with one section where I run about a mile all out uphill on one of Carlsbad’s many 4 to 5% gradients).
We take breaks if the weather is bad, or have work meetings or travel (mostly affects me).
The Sunday before the race I took the kids for their one and only track workout. While I don’t like track workouts, this made sense because with the kids running different speeds I figured we could all get a good workout in and be together. We did 4 laps, basically walking the curve and sprinting the straight. Our 5 year old daughter WL had a 10 to 15 second head-start, followed by the 7 year old OL with the same head start on me and then I’d give chase. Surprisingly OL only caught WL once! And I caught them 3 or 4 times running all out! They got bored after the 4 laps and then we went and played hide and seek in the playground.
The last week of training was very difficult mentally for me. I always don’t feel like doing anything and then a day or 2 before the race, I get into fight or flight mode. We went to check out the course the day before it and I was surprised to see that at mile 3.5 we had to run up the Oceanside Pier which I knew would take the edge off. I walked the climb a couple times and while it was short, I decided I’d go up it slow and then try and get back to race pace after it. We also drove the entire course and I spotted 1 other mini climb at mile 2.75-ish.
On race day we got up at 5 am. Everything worked like clockwork, thanks to all the pre-planning and packing we did the night before and we were parked near the start of the race (scheduled for 7am) at about 6 am.
I’m going to talk about the races in reverse order starting with WL’s race.
WL is a strong runner. She has really powerful legs (looks like a miniature Venus Williams) and she always runs really fast with her brother as I discovered on our last training session. Her 0.25mile race was at about 11am and she jogged it with her mom at a comfortable 10.30/min mile and she seemed to have a good time. They were done in 2.38 or so. I think she could have easily been in the top 10 if she wanted to but she seemed to enjoy herself doing it at a relaxed pace.
OL is equally strong and is the opposite of his sister mentally. We scoped out his 1 mile race the day before the race and I told him multiple times to start slow and start running fast around the 0.25 mile mark then try and catch everyone.
I ran the actual race with him at about 10.30, and because the parents were asked to start at the back and I got to see him running well ahead of me on the boardwalk while I was on the street above. I chased him down at about a 7 min pace and caught him right before the finish. When he saw the finish line he sped up and dropped me which was the highlight of his race. He finished in an 8.36 mile which is his fastest ever.
Mrs. L and I ran the 5 mile race at 7 am. She ran it at a 7.45 pace and broke 40 minutes pretty convincingly. 8 years ago when I was an overworked investment banker, breaking 40 minutes on a 5 mile run was my goal so I think she did well.
Today my goal was to finish in the top 10. I set my watch to a target pace of 5.40 which based on my review of the prior year’s results would get me there. My pace on the Carlsbad 5k was 5.39 so I knew this was achievable as I felt like I had a bit left at the end of the 5k. Mrs. L and I did our Kenyan warm-up ahead of the race. Kenyan warm-up = coordinated warm-up stuff that we saw professional Kenyans doing before a 10k race in Jersey City, NJ. It’s very intimidating and we decided to intimidate the 10 people in the parking lot who saw us. After stretching too, I stripped off my warm stuff and went to the front of the start line where I met my friend Thomas and also met last year’s winner professional Kenyan runner Okwaro Raura. I had a minor panic at this point because my GPS watch took 3 minutes to find its signal but it did before the race.
When the gun went off, the lead guys took off at what was about a 4.45 pace. I started at what felt comfortable and then looked at my watch and as always realized I was running way too fast at about a 5.00 pace. I backed off to about 5.35 to 5.40 and a group of people passed me. By the time we hit the first turn at about 0.5 miles I had passed most of that group of people and I latched on to a group of 5 people including Thomas. We ran the first mile in 5.30 and Thomas said I’m backing off homie, I’ll see you later. We kept running as a foursome that included the first woman, a guy who looked about 5’3 in a green jersey who appeared to be pacing her as we ran, there was a guy in a red jersey who looked normal but was dressed in hardcore running garb and then yours truly. Around mile 2.0 red jersey seemed to be slowing and I told him to get behind me and he did and he stayed. The foursome became a threesome shortly afterward when we went up the first bump where I’d already planned to slow down which I did. They kept going at the same pace up the bump and gained about 10 to 15 seconds on me. I followed my strategy and kept them at that same distance. The threesome caught and passed a guy who looked really normal and was running in blue basketball-ish shorts and a white tee-shirt (note that everyone else was dressed like professional marathoners). I caught up to this guy just before the slight climb up the Oceanside Pier. He said good job to me and I said same to you.
Going up the Pier, I slowed again per plan and again the 3-some went up really quickly and I could see 5’3 green jersey go up it really fast and drop the group which splintered. Basketball shorts also didn’t slow and he went ahead of me. I came up the climb and now I was about 30 to 40 seconds behind the 3-some and about 10 to 20 seconds behind basketball shorts with about 1.5 miles to go. I looked at my watch and I was running a 6 min pace and I willed myself to go faster. I heard a beep, looked down and my watch said “On Pace” as I was back to 5.55 (the watch has a 15 second error range so 5.30 to 5.55 was considered on pace relative to my 5.40 target). We then had a right turn and a downhill and then about a mile run to back to the pier and finish. I looked for motivation to try and catch basketball shorts and discovered I either didn’t care about catching him or I was simply going all out at my 5.50 to 6.00 pace at this point. I looked back to see if anyone was chasing me and I couldn’t see anyone so I figured alright just try and hold it and finish. That last 0.5 mile was HARD but I was able to hold it an finished in a total time of 29.18 at a 5.41 pace. I was 10th overall!