Race: Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast
Place: New Albany, Indiana
Date: November 28, 2013
Thanksgiving morning ushers in what I like to call “The Least Stressful Race I Run All Year.” Why? Because on Thanksgiving, our local “Turkey Trot” is held right across the street from my apartment. Which means, I don’t have to rush around in the morning trying to make sure I have everything in order and time to get there, stretch, etc. I don’t have to worry over parking or any of that. All I have to do…is get up…get dressed…stretch in the comfort of my own home, and then about 15 minutes before the start, meander down to the starting line.
I. LOVE. THIS. RACE.
BUT…this year I was doing something special at the Fast Freddie. I wasn’t running it for my own personal satisfaction or a PR or to not feel guilty about indulging at dinner. Nope. This year…I was running it for a group I joined called Brain Cancer Share Your Shirts, that my friend Joanne directed me to one day. Her brave daughter is one of my heroes…and at the age of 16, conquered brain cancer. Cailin is amazing and continues to show how truly awesome she is. For real. So, I contacted this group and they paired me with a little girl, ironically from Dothan, Alabama. Her name is Trinitie and she is 12 years old. Trinitie was diagnosed at the age of 11 with Stage 4 brain cancer known as Glioblastoma Multiforme.
She is a beautiful little girl and has become such an inspiration and one of my personal heroes. I wanted to make this race special for her.
You know what that means? SIGNS! Cathy and I made signs that morning to tote over to the fairgrounds and have some fun taking some pictures. With the signs made, I went and changed into my racing gear. It was a bitterly cold morning that day…with temperatures in the low 20s…but with the very strong 14 mph wind gusts, it felt like 16 according to The Weather Channel. I can believe it. It was really cold.
Once I was dressed and got my bib pinned on and used the provided twist tie to attach the timing chip to my shoe (which didn’t actually serve a function as the race goes off gun time, not chip time…), it was time to brave the wintery chill and head out to the start of the race.
Despite the cold morning, there were a lot of people hanging around outside. I was surprised. But, this race draws a lot of very fast, very talented, and very amazing people. Everyone who shows up fits into one of those categories. Trust me. This race is awesome and one of my favorites to do year-after-year…and not just because it’s so convenient. Anyway…after a few poses with the signs, I went on a mission with Cathy to find groups of people who would hold the sign that we made wishing Trinitie a Happy Thanksgiving. Everyone was happy to do so and we got a lot of great pictures. We were finishing that adventure up when everyone started to fill in Green Valley Road. The start of the race was close.
It seemed a majority of people were hanging back away from the pink tape that marked the start line. I moved up toward the front, but know from the past 2 years I have run this race that there are a lot of super-speedy people here. In fact, a lot of track teams turn out to run this race. And trust me…it is a challenging course. I think the Fast Freddie people set out to find a course that pretty much would have runners tackle every hill in New Albany.
Eventually, the space in front of me did fill in. And we were all tightly packed as people finished up their strides and warm-ups. Fred, himself, came out with the bullhorn to make a few announcements and said that he would say, Runners Set…and there would be a whistle. Except…all we got was the whistle. So, for a brief moment, no one moved. Then we heard Fred yell, “GO!” We were off…
Now, this course is no stranger to me. I run it a lot, especially in the summer when I do runs around my neighborhood. I ran it Wednesday morning with my friend Natalie…keeping an easy and leisurely pace though, so as not to burn out my legs the day before a race. Actually, it was really nice to be able to change up my morning route, throw in a bit more of a challenge, and do it with the lady I call my sole sister…because we hit it off so well and are so much alike. Anyway…I run this route often…normally not at race pace. And…I also know which sections slow me down. I was mentally preparing myself for it all…but telling myself to run hard for Trinitie.
Within the first half mile, runners are already plodding up the first of three major hills in the race. This one takes the crowd over the highway and often we get people honking as we race above them. This climb is no joke, but you get rewarded with a nice downhill on the other side. It all levels out and you round the corner and hit a couple of slight hills, but nothing too hard.
Mile 2 starts shortly after the turn, and this one does bring the ups and downs of New Albany. And train tracks. Just for that extra challenge. This stretch of road is nice though, and I do love running it. I enjoy a challenge and mentally trying to push myself a little harder. I usually save it for later in the course though…and you’ll understand why. Mile 2 was a breeze. As we were about to turn onto Grant Line Road, a guy began running next to me and said, “Hold this pace!” I was like…”Ummm…okay…” But…after making the turn and knowing we had another minor hill and then the turn into the community park…I was ready to run.
The last half mile leading to Mile 3 is a tough incline up inside the park. The first year I ran the race I had the worst side stitch coming up the hill. Last year…no such problem. This year, it slowed me down slightly, as it always does. I’m halfway through the race and my legs are burning, but I press on, and I push them…and I get up that hill and head past the clock at Mile 3. That’s good because heading toward Mile 4 takes you on the toughest portion of the route…Schell Lane.
You see, after you exit the park you are put onto what I think must be the road with the steepest uphills in New Albany. The downhills are slight, but these uphills are killer. This is one reason I both love and hate this route. Hills make me stronger, but I hate hills. Go figure. Anyway…this is the part of this run where I always choose to push myself. It’s the most challenging…so why not?
And push is what I did. Every uphill I battled up, pumping my legs and getting to the top. The one at the very end is the worst one, and even in training runs, I congratulate myself when I reach the top. I did the same thing on Thanksgiving morning. The best part is once you make the turn onto Daisy Lane, you have a nice downhill before it levels out. Whew. I love that downhill. It makes all the effort I pour into that mile worth it. Mile 4 is near the bottom of the hill, just after it levels off. With one mile to go, I know the route well. I often run the street in the morning and know where the hillier portions will find me. Luckily, these hills are nothing compared to what we already ran through previously.
I really just wanted to finish strong. My goal was to run for Trinitie…and maybe even beat last year’s time. I wasn’t sure how the time thing would work out because my muscles hate the cold weather and when it is as bitter cold out as it was on Thanksgiving…well…sometimes it just hurts for me to breathe. But I could see it ahead…after I ran past the cemetery, the turn towards the finish at the 4-H Fairgrounds. I was about a half mile out. So, I just thought of Trinitie and said I was going to finish strong.
And I did…crossing that finish line never felt so good. I know I can run that route faster than what I managed…but with the wind and the cold, I just wanted to finish that race and do a good job for a little girl in Dothan, Alabama. I managed that…and set a new PR for 5 miles for myself. Happy about that.
Afterwards, I went back to the apartment to make some hot apple cider. Then Cathy and I trekked back over to the fairgrounds to watch the winners get the awards. I love watching runners collect their prizes for being so amazing. We left after that as I was hosting Thanksgiving and needed to hop in the shower and finish up the rest of the meal (including making sushi!).
I will say this…the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast had the most people register in the 25 years it has been running. However, due to the cold, both finishing times and turn-out were lower than previous years. In fact, this year apparently tied for the coldest year the race has run. Go figure. All proceeds from the race to benefit the Type 1 Diabetes Education Program at Floyd Memorial Hospital.
It was a great way to start out Thanksgiving, for sure.
Official results of the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast are that I finished it in 36:54 based on gun time! Yes…my fastest 5 mile time to date. I was 113/935 overall; 22/448 women to cross the finish line; and I was 5th in my division. Of course, after reading some of the times my running friends turned out on their Thanksgiving races, I feel rather slow. But…like I said…my body hates cold weather so I can only do what I can do. I was on my feet for 4 hours the night before doing TONS of Thanksgiving prep as well, but…you know what? I had fun. Bonus…what I did was run a great race for a brave little girl named Trinitie. And on Tuesday, I am sending her a package with my race shirt, my race bib, a special gift from me, and a note. She is an inspiration, a fighter, and definitely one of my heroes.
It was a great day and a great way to give thanks!