Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 Chicago Turkey Day 5k Recap

Finally getting around to writing about my last race. Time has kind of gotten away from me lately, and I haven't been feeling all that great, goes.

On November 27, 2014, I ran the Chicago Turkey Day 5k. It was Thanksgiving. It was my birthday. And it was cold.

Last year, I ran the Grant Park Turkey Trot. It was my first ever race, and I had a blast running it with a friend. This year, I knew I wanted to run another Turkey Trot, but I decided to try a different one. Luckily, there are quite a few in the Chicagoland area from which to choose. The Turkey Day 5k seemed like my best option. It wouldn't require me to wake up insanely early in the morning, it was easy to get to, and it was actually on Thanksgiving, which meant that I didn't have to take any days off from work in order to run it.

Giant inflatable turkey? That's how I knew I was in the right place.
Registration was, as usual, incredibly easy. The race was benefiting the Greater Chicago Food Depository, so there was an option during registration to add a donation to your registration fee. The website also stated that donations of non-perishable food items was also encouraged at packet pick up and on race day.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository truck, waiting to haul away food donations.
I chose to take advantage of advanced packet pick up, and I was glad I did. The lines on race day were really long, and there were several people signed up for the 8k who started late (the 8k started at 9am, with the 5k starting half an hour later) because they were still in line at packet pick up when the race started. 

Advanced packet pick up was incredibly quick. Held at Fleet Feet Chicago's Old Town location, it was half way between home and work, which made it easy for me to stop in at the start of the day to pick up everything I needed before heading in to work. I actually arrived a little early, which may be why it was so quick and easy. I was only the third person in line when packet pick up began, and I had my packet and was on my way in about five minutes. Note to self - always show up early to packet pick up. As an added bonus, the store was having a pre-Thanksgiving sale, so I was able to pick up a pair of thermal pants and a thermal top at a pretty good discount. 

The packet included the race shirt, bib number, safety pins, gear check bag, timing chip, a bag for food donations, and a few goodies (sample packets of gummy vitamins and a couple of mini clif bars). As usual, my shirt was too small. I guess I need to always order a size larger than I think I need. I packed it in my gear check bag to try to exchange it after the race. Luckily, this time I was able to exchange for a larger size with the help of a very friendly volunteer.

The contents of my race packet.
The morning of the race was incredibly laid back. With a start time of 9:30am, I didn't need to wake up at the crack of dawn. Those extra moments of sleep were amazing! I had time for a leisurely breakfast and a final check that I had everything I needed. I knew it was going to be cold, so I packed an extra jacket to wear before and after the race. I got dressed, attached my timing chip to my shoe laces, pinned on my bib number, and made my way to the train.

Even though I took my time getting ready, I was super early for the race. I left my bag of canned goods with the volunteers from the food bank and walked around to keep warm.

I was really happy that they were accepting food donations on race day.
I forgot to take my donation to packet pick up the week earlier.
I have to hand it to all the race volunteers for being out there in the cold making sure the race happened as planned. It was cold, windy, and overcast, and the volunteers had been there setting up all morning.

I kept walking around the race site, going up and down and around the park trying to keep warm. I have to say, I really appreciated that there were bathrooms near the starting corrals and another set near the finish line, and I took advantage of both locations during the morning. Sorry if that is too much information, but running with a full bladder is just not comfortable, so bathrooms are an important part of my race experience.

The sad thing is, it wasn't even that cold for a Chicago winter. 
There were some games to play both before and after the race. My favorite game had to be the turkey bowling.

Turkey bowling = the best pre-race game.
Turkey bowling is exactly what it sounds like: bowling, but with a turkey. Sure, there was a football toss and beanbags...but how often do you get to throw a frozen turkey around?

As it got closer to the start of the race, I made my way over to the corrals. Luckily, the sun came out in time for the race. We also had a really beautiful and short snow shower as the race was starting. Big, picturesque flakes of snow slowly falling while the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. It was lovely.

I was, as usual, in the last corral. What can I say? I'm realistic about my incredibly slow pace. I really appreciated that the corrals were marked for your estimated pace per mile and that there were announcements reminding those walking or pushing strollers to move to the last corral.

Pre race selfie! A time honored tradition for those of us with no one to take pictures for us.
There were a lot of families and groups of friends out running together, which is always fun to see. There were so many people, and every age and body type seemed to be represented in the race's participants.

The 5k started, and as each corral was released, I slowly crept closer and closer to the starting line. Finally, I was at the start line and able to start running.

That's the start line way up there. If you squint, you may be able to see it.
The course was great, with a lane of Lake Shore Drive being shut down and used for the race. It is always fun being able to run on city streets that are usually closed to pedestrians instead of running an entire race on the lakefront trail. It makes a race feel a bit more special and like a real event, instead of feeling like I paid to run my usual route. The turn around was clearly marked, and the volunteers along the course were great in cheering everyone on and providing any help that was needed. The folks at the water station were still peppy and cheering even as us slow pokes finally made our way to them.

The course and volunteers were lovely. My running, however, was awful. Or perhaps I should say my lack of running. I barely made it one mile before I had to start walking, and then I ended up walking most of the remainder of the race, with occasional short bursts of running. It is usually the other way around. By the time I crossed the finish line, I was incredibly disappointed in myself and ashamed of my performance, which is one of the reasons I've taken so long to post my recap. I had hoped to PR and had actually trained for this race. I ended up having my worst time, yet. I'm still disappointed in myself.

At the finish line, there was bottled water, energy drinks, apples, and packages of crackers and hummus (delicious crackers and hummus - I may have taken two). There was also hot apple cider, more vitamin packets being passed out, and a stand with mini clif bars.

Once I had my gear bag back, I threw on my extra clothes I brought and traded in my shirt for a larger size. While doing so, I discovered that a lot of people were very unhappy. Apparently, they had some sort of glitch with timing, and everyone's time was recorded based on gun time, not chip time. Considering that some of us didn't make it to the start line until a full 20 minutes after the race started, very few people had correct times listed. The volunteers were clear that everyone working on the race was aware of the glitch and they were working on getting it sorted out and correct times would be posted online once everything was fixed, but some people were still very upset. Personally, I knew I ran terribly, so I was happy not to be confronted with any real numbers that day.

This was my first race using a timing chip attached to my shoe laces.
Overall, it was a great event. Even with the problems regarding timing, I still thought that the race was well organized, and I would attempt to run it again. The course was great and easy to follow, with a clearly marked turn around. The race volunteers were cheerful and helpful, and I loved the games before the race. They already have race registration open for next year's event, and I'm considering signing up again.


  1. That is frustrating when you train for something and it doesn't go how you expect! Why do you think you ended up walking so much more than you normally do? Were you not feeling it? I hope your next 5K goes how you want it!

    1. I felt pretty good at the start, but I quickly lost all my energy and just couldn't seem to get it back. My poor performance really threw me for a loop, and I've been really struggling to stay motivated. I only ran one mile last night, but considering that I didn't want to run at all, I figure that one mile is better than nothing.