Friend and fellow Run Oregon blogger Brian Bernier
Thanksgiving is all about being thankful, and time with those you love. Though I went by myself to the Uberthons Turkeython at Bridgeport Village, I was definitely welcomed by my running family. No less than a dozen people made it a point to say hi and exchange at least a few words. In spite of the chilly temperatures, everyone was smiling and ready to have a great time. It was unfortunate I was there, as I had been on the fence about registering and decided not to due to being unsure about my fitness level at the time. But after a friend was unexpectedly unable to run, I decided the night before I would see about taking her entry and just getting out to have fun. Even as I pulled up almost an hour before the race, there were cones everywhere and prolific volunteers already on the course. Uberthons always does a really good job with course staffing and marking and this race was no exception. It was easy to see that it would wind around the shopping center before making a large loop, mostly on Boones Ferry. Not the most scenic course, but it had the potential to be fast and was definitely unique. Packet pickup was a quick stop inside one of the storefronts and the only left to do was warm up. I wanted this to be a higher mileage day and knew it was going to take a lot longer to get warmed up due to the temperatures, so I started meandering around the mall almost 50 minutes before the race start. I felt energized, and noticed no niggles or tweaks on this particular morning. I put off stripping down to race gear until minutes before the start, preferring to stay warm. I had noticed quite a few fast looking women before the gun went off, but only one speedy male. Knowing this was not a foolproof assessment of the field, I just toed the line hoping to win, but the first goal was just to eke out as much speed as was possible in that moment. After the start, I found myself at the head of the field with a few other men. It quickly settled as another competitor got to the front and three of us made a lead pack. I pushed for the lead a little to test the waters and discovered that the other two were quite serious and settled into a comfortable pace.
We worked together for about the first mile, then they picked up a little as we got onto the road. I tucked in behind them, but they drew away slowly as I concentrated on maintaining my form for that speed and trying to stay relevant. As we headed south on Boones Ferry and climbed the long gradual hill I kept within a few feet of them, after the crest they hit another gear I just didn't have and smoothly pulled away. Instead of giving up as I lost my chance to win, I kept my form and effort level. As usual, I was not wearing a watch, so had no way of knowing what I was running. After 3 more turns and a slight uphill we were back in the mall parking lot, and another 3 turns put us on the block long finishing straight. I had been accelerating, but didn't get into a full on kick. Just opening up my stride for a strong finished and glanced at the clock with a few steps to go to see it ticking along at under 15:30. I was completely floored as I crossed the finish. I had just ran a 27 second best with an official time of 15:33. It was a very cold morning, but the atmosphere, logistics, and timing made this for an amazing race. Even though I had been hoping to continue my win streak, to be soundly defeated and use that gap to pull myself along to new heights is a great experience. It was awesome to see happy, involved volunteers at all the turns and placed regularly on the route along with a incomprehensible number of cones to keep us on course. This is what racing is all about, enjoying all the aspects of the running community, the chance to do our best as well as mingle with friendly people. I am thankful indeed for my running family.