Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey 4 Miler

It was all about the pie this morning. This was my third consecutive run at the Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day race and in the first two years I had failed to pull off an age group top three, missing out on the age-group pies. This year I was determined to bring something extra to the Thanksgiving table.

Based on my recent run at Dublin, Mr. Mcmillan seemed to think I was in sub 22 shape, so 5:30s were the goal.

Got out for a three mile warm-up with Frank Antonelli and was back to the start area in time to play official photographer for Alistair's big race, which was a third of a mile from Oak & Mason, up to Mountain and then around to the finish on College.

We got to the start just as the gun went off, so Alistair (and Dana) had their work cut out for them from the get go. Undeterred, Alistair put in a strong run, munching up the competition as he went, finishing with a strong kick. We've been chatting with Alistair all week about the race, so he was pretty psyched to finally be running. He was a proud little chappy as he crossed the finish line, although I'm pretty sure he prefers trails.

Cruising the middle meters

Easy tiger, save it for the kick!

Look at that kick!

The race proper was five minutes after the kids' run, so I quickly stripped down and headed over to the start. According to the PA, close to 4,000 people were registered for the race (3,400 finished), which is huge for Fort Collins. And not only is the Thanksgiving Day field the biggest of the year in town, but it is also by far the most competitive with lots of ringers from out of town racing for a prize purse of $5,000.

Stripping down after Alistair's race.

Chatted with Steve Cathcart and Pete Stevenson at the start - about three deep - and got some form on the elite field. Nuta Olaru, Alisha Williams and Nicole Feest seemed like favorites in the women's field, while I can't say I recognized too many of the names Steve threw at me from the men's field. Turns out the speedsters were there in full force. In all, twelve guys would run sub-5:00 minute miles to finish under 20 minutes.

I was determined to go out at a sensible pace today as I have a terrible habit of gunning it from the start in shorter races, when the best strategy - for me - is to work up to my racing pace rather than working back to it. Far less stressful aerobically, and it so much better to be accelerating through the opening minutes than slowing through them.

Having learned at Dublin that elite women make good pacers, I settled in behind the lead pack of five ladies through the first mile (5:22), which felt pretty comfortable, and then coming to the turn into City Park just before the two mile I edged ahead of the lead ladies and settled into a good rhythm. I was running solo here with a large pack close behind and a sprinkling of guys within reach ahead. Second mile came in at 5:34, or 4 seconds up on the goal. I was still feeling good so kept the effort right there.

Soon after the start. I'm next to the kid in orange, already settled in behind two of the four women that would be in contention at the end. Alisha Williams foreground, Nicole Feest behind (412). Photo Sonja Wieck's father-in-law.

Coming down Mountain Ave. I could hear the pitter-patter of the women's race behind me, all the while getting updates from spectators as they cheered the lead action on. I picked up Frank pretty close to mile three, which split at 5:24 (16:22), and felt the girls getting closer. I knew they'd be kicking it in soon, as money was at stake, so I was debating internally if I wanted to be childish and try to out-kick them if it came down to it or take the more dignified approach and let them get on with it.

By Mason Road, maybe a quarter mile from the finish, Romanian Olympic marathoner Nuta Olaru made her move. It was pretty weak to be honest, but it was enough to get by me and also to string out the other two girls with five meters between first and third. Rounding the last turn onto College, I decided to accept my second chicking of the year and cruised to the finish. While I probably wouldn't have beaten the winner across the line anyway, I did have the fourth place woman sprint by me in the last ten meters. Doh.

How it shook out in the women's race, with me third white shirt back. Adriana Nelson (fka Pirtea), Nuta Olaru (2nd), Nicole Feest (4th) behind me, and Alisha Williams (3rd) on the fence. Photo Sonja Wieck's father-in-law.

My last mile was a 5:42, but the general consensus among GPS-carrying runners after the race was that mile three was slightly short and mile four slightly long, so those splits were probably more like 5:30 and 5:36, which means I ran a very evenly paced race.

It was definitely fun to get the pole position on the women's race, which was an absolute barn-burner. Adriana Nelson caught and out-kicked Olaru for the win, Olaru and Alisha Williams finished one second behind the winner in a photo finish and Nicole Feest was a second behind them. Phew! The winning time in the men's race was 18:52 by a guy from Alamosa called Aucencio Martinez - fast.

I finished two seconds over my goal in 22:02, which last year would have been good enough for pie, but with far more runners this year I had a feeling when I crossed the line that pie might be eluding me once again. I got to Old Chicago just at they were sticking the preliminary results on the window.

Second, 35-39! Ah, yes, the pie was mine.

Pie and a Guinness. Mmmm.

Ladies from the Fort Collins Running Club tucking into Bloody Marys at 10:30 in the morning. Gotta love Thanksgiving!


  1. Nice job on the pie -- lots of tough competition and Olympians, so that makes it even sweeter! I saw you and your son briefly before I ran into Old C's for a bathroom stop, then I got caught in the throng of strollers and gapers at the starting line... I'll be out of town this weekend, but hope to do a meet up for a long trail run soon.
    Nice to see so much of our town out for a run on a nice day! Enjoy your pie (and Guinness), cheers!

  2. Excellente mi amigo. Well done.

  3. 30th place? Now we are talking. Sounds like my usual placing. But wait -- I never get pie! WTF? FoCo rules!

  4. I saw you at the starting line, as I was mentioning that there were a lot of fast dudes here. I pointed you out to my hubby that you looked fast and undercover with the beard. I finished 16th woman and just assumed there would be no pie for me. Looking up results later I won the Female 30-34 and there was totally a pie with my name on it. Please don't tell me how good the pie was!!!!

    Crazy that I was surfing around today and found your blog, especially since I noticed you at the start line.

  5. Way to bring home the pie!

    Maybe Alistair can teach you a thing or two about how to put in a good kick so you don't get chicked by four people next time :)

  6. Mike - nice run yourself. Looks like you finished just behind my buddy Pete. Good to see some trail runners representing and putting in strong runs.

    GZ - thanks man!

    Brandon - that's what I tell anyone who'll listen, FoCo rules.

    Sonja - yeah the beard is always good cover. I don't think anyone takes me too seriously on the starting line with the big shaggy beard. BTW, 16th in that field - very solid. Enjoyed your report, too. Oh, and the pie, mighty fine! Next time.

    Nick - yeah, there's much I can learn from Alistair. He'll be out-kicking me for real before long.

  7. What is this talk about being childish outkicking a woman in the final stretch? Come on, that's my bread and butter!

    Well done, that looks like a great race!

  8. Great for Alistair! I didn't even know Keds made racing flats. Who knew?
    Congrats on the pie, and happy Thanksgiving.