Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Walnut Creek Turkey Trot 10K - 11/24/11

I was thrilled when after asking my parents if they wanted to run a Thanksgiving turkey trot with me, they responded by saying they were both going to come out of retirement for it. This is not to say they don't run anymore, both still run numerous times a week, but it's been awhile since either have participated in a race. My dad's last one was nearly five years ago at the 2007 Kaiser Half Marathon (which was my first), and my mom's last race was 20 years ago. I think both got the itch to run a race again after watching my sister and I run the Primo's Half Marathon in Danville back in October.

Thanksgiving morning came and the big question was, "What should I wear?". The weather wasn't looking great. It was cold and raining. Not the downpour type of rain, but heavy sprinkling that could've easily turned uglier at any moment. After the Big Sur half marathon where I overdressed, and ended up being way to warm after just one mile, I decided that from now on, as long as it's 45 degrees or over, I'm wearing shorts and a singlet. I really don't like the feeling of being constricted by layers when I run. Talking to my mom, it was obvious she was a lot like me in that sense, so I gave her a lightweight waterproof vest to wear over her t-shirt. My dad on the other hand, not only was wearing a thick, long-sleeve shirt, but also decided that we should wear garbage bags while waiting for the race to start to keep us warm. I thought that was a fantastic idea, especially since it was wet outside. Now that everyone was appropriately dressed, all three of us turkeys were off to trot.

We arrived in Walnut Creek with plenty of time to ensure we got a parking spot close to the start at Civic Park. We all sat in the car awhile to stay warm, and when it was finally time to make our way to the start, my dad and I put on our garbage bags before exiting the car. There were a lot of people taking part in this race, not only because it was a fundraiser for the Walnut Creek school district, but also because it was such a family oriented race given the holiday. Strollers were even allowed, something I've rarely seen with any race. Some families were dressed in Thanksgiving costumes, some with pilgrim capes, turkey hats, and one girl was even dressed as a can of cranberries.

A couple minutes prior to the start I ditched my garbage bag and made a meeting plan with my parents since we were all going to run the 10k at our own pace. To accommodate the 4,000 participants of the 10k, 5k, and kids run, all of which started at the same time (with the exception of the kids run), the start line had pace time groupings so that everyone would line up according to pace. As I stood shivering waiting for the start, it was obvious people weren't paying attention to the pace times, and just lining up wherever. This made for a very ugly start of the race. Trying to navigate through children running every which way, strollers, and walkers definitely made everyone get off to a slow start. I couldn't be all that upset about it though given that this was a family event, and ultimately I was just running it to fully enjoy the heaping mound of mashed potatoes I would be indulging in later.

By the time the race started the sprinkling had all but died off, and sure enough within a mile, I had completely warmed up. Running through Walnut Creek was fun since for the most part I'd driven most of these roads. We ran out passed the Whole Foods where our first turnaround point was. By this point, I'd gotten far enough out where I had some running room, unlike my parents who were still caught in the thick of things when I passed them going the opposite direction. We then turned on Newell and North Main Street to run around Broadway Plaza, a place I've spent countless hours shopping at throughout my life.

After passing through the heart of downtown Walnut Creek, we turned on Lincoln Ave and headed into a residential area before turning onto the Iron Horse Trail. Iron Horse Trail runs through many counties and is a favorite spot of mine to run when visiting my parents in Danville. Although, I'd never run it through Walnut Creek so was excited to get the chance to do so. Just before going on the bridge that went up and over Ygnacio Valley Blvd, the turnoff back into Civic Park was on our left and those doing the 5k diverted to the finish. Those of us doing the 10k continued on the trail where we made a quick loop through the grounds of Walnut Creek Intermediate School before getting back on the trail and heading to the final turnaround spot near mile 5.

On the way back, a good portion of the trail was dirt, and since it'd been raining, was a bit muddy and slippery. I stayed to the right and ran on the leaves to give my old shoes some traction. I was getting pretty pooped since I was running at a pretty fast pace, and at one point, I heard my dad yell out my name as he passed me on the opposite side of the trail heading to the turnaround point. Soon after, I went up and over the bridge before peeling off the trail to head into the finish at Civic Park. The last .2 miles were pretty much an all out sprint to the finish while trying to weave in and out of the walkers who were just finishing the 5k.

I grabbed some water and then ran back and forth to the car to grab my jacket so I wouldn't miss my dad and mom finishing. Only a few minutes after lining up near the finishing chute with the rest of the spectators, I saw my dad coming in. He was easy to spot with his 49ers hat on. When we met up, we then both got to cheer on my mom who came in not much later. Immediately after the race we took some pictures with a the giant, blow up turkey to commemorate the day, and then all decided we needed coffee despite wanting to stay around to see if any of us placed. After trying unsuccessfully to find coffee, we came back for the awards ceremony, but it still wasn't being held, and since we all decided coffee and the football game were top priorities, we all took off and headed back to Danville while excitedly talking about all the details of our race.

Later that day when the results were posted, we all got our official times and were able to see how we stacked up to the rest of the runners. My dad had just missed placing in his age group by coming in fourth, my mom however, came in an impressive first in her age group, beating the second place finisher by nearly 20 minutes. I'd come in second in my age group with a PR time.

I've run a lot of races, but this has got to be up there as one of my most memorable. Not because of the race itself, but because I did it with my parents. Watching them both cross the finish line of a 10k while in their mid-60's is incredible. I'm so thankful that staying fit is an important part of their lives, and I know seeing this throughout my life has greatly shaped who I've become. I can only hope that when I'm their age, I'll still be out running every week like they are. What an amazing thing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving day, and this was really the perfect start to what was going to be a fantastic weekend all around.

Something tells me this might be the start to more family races down the line.

Race stats:
Overall female: 18 of 755
Age Group: 2 of 131
Chip Time: 44:15 (7:08 pace)
GPS Time: 44:35 (7:10 pace)


  1. Jen,

    What a fun read! The photos are great too. We so enjoyed meeting you and spending some time with you over the holiday week-end.

    Following are links to half-marathons in Northwest Arkansas. Hope to see you guys here running one in the not-to-distant future.

    If you would like additional information about any of these, let me know.


  2. Thanks Glyn! It was so nice to meet you guys as well, and I had a great weekend getting to know you both. Some of these races look great, but even if we can't make it coincide with a race, a visit to Arkansas will definitely be order!