It was only yesterday (11/16/11) that my co-worker walks into my office and says, “Hey Steve, do you want to do the Turkey Trot with me?” He says it in a way that sounds half or mostly kidding, but since he enjoys sharing his fitness progress with me every so often so I think he might be serious. I have two immediate thoughts:
1) No way – I’m not even close to being in distance running shape.
2) Let’s do it! – I’ve seen the Turkey Trot a lot over my life and always wanted to do it.
While my immediate outward response was: “That sounds interesting. Let me think about it.” I deliberate with myself for just a moment before my spontaneous “try anything” mode takes over and I go on the website and register!
“What have I done?!” I wonder as the confirmation email arrives in my inbox.
The Turkey Trot is a 5K or 10K run that takes place every year on Thanksgiving in downtown Detroit before “America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade”. For those not hip to the Metric to Imperial conversion, a 5K is about 3.1-3.2 miles. This year, Thanksgiving is on 11/24/11 which is exactly 1 week away. Now, I haven’t run outdoors in about 9 months and it was no where near 3.2 miles. On top of that, this is football season and the time of year when I watch 6-8 TV shows on Thursday ALONE. My TV viewing schedule this time of year would sicken even the most die hard couch potato, but suffice it to say I am in peak condition for TV watching.
Deep breath. “Well, what’s done is done.”
I dig my heals in, do a Google search, and this article comes up. It’s all I need to convince myself that the old Adidas campaign might be true: Impossible is Nothing (click for some inspiration from The Greatest).
So here goes nothing, I will document my progress towards attempting to run a 5K in a week with zero preparation/conditioning. My goal is to complete the run in under 30 minutes (a pedestrian pace to be sure, but fast enough to qualify as “running a 5K” in my book).
11/16/11 – Sign up day. I head to the gym focused on the goal of running as far as I can at a 9:00-10:00 mile pace, but completing 3.2 miles running or walking. I run for 2 miles straight and start to walk at 20:00 because I start to feel a little cramping. Should have hydrated more. I walk at a brisk pace for a quarter mile and then start running again. I can’t get up to 7MPH, so I finish another 0.7 miles going at 6MPH. I feel a blister forming on the bottom of my right foot and the cramps are back. I walk out the rest of the 3.2 miles and finish with a time of about 33:00. I jump on the elliptical for no apparent reason and do 70 minutes of that. I am a machine. I’ve completed the litmus test and know where I stand. I need to shave off 3:00 and I need to hydrate more. I am sore.
11/17/11 – Surprisingly, I woke up feeling only a 5 on a 10 point soreness scale. Thank God I took the advice of a friend and drank a lot of water and stretched before bed last night. I have the goal of eating right and staying hydrated until I punish my body again tonight. I’ll keep this thing updated until the big day on Thanksgiving. I’ll change the font color and annotate the date for easy reference.
OK, so maybe I was a little more sore than I thought. My hip flexors were burning from the first step and I realized this was going to be a battle. I regressed a little, finishing 3.2 miles in 34:00 and walking another half mile. I did have to stop briefly as a girl who started using the treadmill next to me had a pungent odor of ethnic food. That kind of torture was not a part of my conditioning plan. On the bright side, no cramping this time, but now there is a decent-sized blister on the bottom of both foot arches. Talk about uncomfortable. Guess I’m stopping at the store for some tape tomorrow. Jumped on the bike for 3 miles (or 100 “bonus calories” as I like to call them). Though it would loosen up/stretch out my hip flexors a little bit… not so much. Anyway, first thing tomorrow, I’m booking a massage for Saturday or Sunday. (11/17/11 9:05 PM)
11/18/11 – Well, this is embarrassing. I did 3.2 miles again, but I’ve actually gotten slower as I finished in 35:00! I was very tired and sore, but I did manage to get through running 2.35 miles straight in 23:00; the rest had to be walked/jogged. I taped up the feet so no blister pain today. Walked out an extra 0.5 miles on an incline, then hit the elliptical for 200 bonus calories. I might skip tomorrow, but I’m not sure yet. I did book a deep tissue massage for 6PM, so if I run it will have to be before that.
11/19/11 – No running today… I did about an hour on the elliptical to for some conditioning, but my legs really were not in the mood to run for a 4th straight day. Afterward, I headed to the spa for an hour-long deep tissue massage that was very well received by my body. I feel like a new man. Football Sunday will be a challenge, but if I wake up early enough, I may try to sneak in 4 miles. Of course that could just be my Zen-like relaxed state talking… ommmmmm… ommmmmmm….
P. S. My masseuse kept saying things like “good luck with your marathon” or “how long have you been training for the marathon” when I had already told her several times that it was “only a 5K”. Eventually I was too relaxed (and sort of embarrassed) to correct her. Could it be a sign that 26.2 might be in my future? Let’s not think about such nonsense right now.
11/21/11 – No running again yesterday. Decided to give my body another day’s rest to try and let the muscles recover. I ran my best time yet for 3.2 miles at 32:30 which is still a far cry from my goal of 30:00. Interestingly enough, a young girl of probably 11 or 12 started to use the treadmill next to me and at one point said something to me that I couldn’t hear over my headphones. I slowed down a bit, took one out, and asked her to repeat herself.
“You’re pretty good,” she said, pointing to my treadmill screen.
“Did you run that whole time?”
“Yeah (I looked down and saw 2.64 miles done), thanks!”
Well that certainly made my day! I’ve only been training for 5 days and I’ve been given a complement by a complete stranger!
Also, when I returned home I went to look up how many calories I burned from running at a 2% incline and I came across this calculator. I highly recommend you check it out as it lists many interesting activities you’ll be surprised about.
11/22/11 – T – 2 days until race day. FASTEST TIME YET! 3.2 miles in 31:00 and I can see daylight. The good news is I’ve been training at 2% incline where 1% is supposed to simulate road running. Bad news: it will be 8:00 AM and 38° outside. All I can do now is wait and see. I ended up spending a full hour on the treadmill, cranking out 5.42 miles total. I finished my final session by busting out 540 bonus calories on the elliptical (which, if you reference the calculator in my last update is like 5 and a half hours of making out).
I haven’t decided if I’m going to risk doing a workout tomorrow if my legs don’t fall off in the morning. Logic and reasoning say “no”, but my desire to accomplish my goal says “yes”.
P.S. When I’ve been forced to slow down because I become short of breath, I check my pulse with those metal plates in the handles and it’s been reading 190+ sometimes. The highest marking on the table is 186 (80% for a 10 year old). I wonder if that’s dangerous?
11/24/11 – HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I had a hard time sleeping last night. I went to bed at 8 PM but woke up at 11 and couldn’t go back to sleep I was so excited! I arrived downtown dark and early at 7 AM and it was all hustle and bustle (as you’d imagine). Even with 21,000 runners and all the other people, things were mostly well-organized. The only real negative part of the whole experience was waiting in the Prancer “corral” in the cold wind waiting for our start time. Once we were off, I just went into my zone. I barely saw any of the spectators as I was focused on my pace and breathing the whole time. Well, that’s not really the whole truth. I actually spent most of my time focused on avoiding other runners!!! It was so frustrating having to try and get around slow runners, walkers, kids, strollers, and pets. I’ll be honest, I could not even get into a rhythm!
Final result: 31:04 (according to the chip in my bib as seen HERE)
So, I didn’t make my goal of 30:00, but I felt good about how I ran this morning. I didn’t walk at all (except in a couple of traffic jams around corners and only for a moment) and my only disappointment is not being able to leave it all out there. I finished feeling like I could run for another 1.5 or 2 miles because all of the aforementioned slower participants kept me from really pushing it.
Well, I did it with 1 week of training in almost my goal time so I think I can add and subsequently cross this off my bucket list. I’ll definitely try to be back next year, but I’ll be sure to run in the Comet or Blitzen groups because I’d definitely rather be slower in a fast group than faster in a slow group. I might even try for the full 10K, who knows? (And maybe start training more than 7 days beforehand!)
Enjoy your Thanksgiving! If you’re reading this, I’m thankful for you!