Running on gluten-free carbs…

Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, IN (November 22, 2012)

Me crossing the finish line of the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast - New Albany, Indiana

Me crossing the finish line of the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, Indiana

Race: Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast

Place: New Albany, Indiana

Date: November 22, 2012

Time: 38:24

A week ago, I had gone out on a five mile run, taking the route that I’ve been doing a majority of my five mile runs on…the route that the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast happens on.  And each time that I have run it, I have come up close to…but not quite beating my fastest five mile time to date, which I set back on June 16 at the Activate America 5 Miler in Frankfort, Kentucky.  I told Cathy, that morning after I got back from my run, that by next year, I hoped to run a five mile race in under 40 minutes.

She told me…I’d do it long before then.

And I laughed.  No…I literally shook my head, laughed, and went back to making breakfast.  I think I underestimate myself…

Fast forward to…Thanksgiving morning.

Now, most places on Thanksgiving have Turkey Trots and Drumstick Dashes and other fun Thanksgiving themed runs.  Here in New Albany, Indiana, we have the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast.  Which, doesn’t sound like a typical Thanksgiving run…but trust me…this happens to be THE Thanksgiving run.  I participated in it last year (finishing in 44:48), making it my first official running of this New Albany tradition.  And also lead me to discover that this is, without doubt, the least stressful race that I compete in all year.

Why?

Because it starts and finishes at the Floyd County 4H Fairgrounds…which just happen to be located across the street from my apartment complex.  On Thanksgiving morning, I can sleep in a little.  Get up in enough time to eat some cereal, change into running gear, stretch, and then step outside and walk across the street to mingle with the crowd a little, stretch some more, get accustomed to the weather (last year, I was in long pants and a jacket…this year…shorts!).  After I finish, I can just meander back to my apartment, hop in the shower, and finish getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner without feeling rushed or stressed.  Best race, logistically, for me.

And that was exactly how my morning went.  Cathy and I walked out the door about 30 minutes before the start of the race.  Already, our apartment complex’s main drive was filling up with parked vehicles of runners who were showing up for the race.  Trust me…this is no small happening.  Last year 880 people participated in the event.  This year, they were expecting a record number of runners…and the area didn’t disappoint.  The Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast brought out 960 finishers this year.  HUGE!!

And somehow, within those 960 racers, plus their friends and family who came to cheer them on…I get found by the people who spotted me in Hershey when I was there for the half marathon.  They saw the sign, once again.  Turns out they were also at the Hot Chocolate 15K as well.  They even looked for my sign…but didn’t see it.  SO funny!  I really need to get their names at the next race I participate in and see them.  Only seems right.

Anyway…it was in the mid-40s on Thanksgiving morning, so I decided I would wear shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt.  Actually, I toyed with the idea of a short sleeve tech shirt and probably would have been just fine in that.  But it was a bit chilly at the start of the race.  I just tend to warm up faster than I think I will.

Soon after I shucked my jacket and finished a few stretches, runners were already making their way up to the line of white tape that crossed the entire street that we start on.  It was just before the drive leading to my apartment complex.  Like I said…I use this route on my five mile training runs, so I felt really prepared to tackle the myriad of hills that this course would offer at different points.  Feeling so strongly about the run, I actually moved pretty far up (not in the front, mind you, but a few rows back) near the start line.  All around me, runners were talking about their plans for the day, or upcoming runs, or what they were going to have for Thanksgiving.  It was just a really good vibe and I could feel the electricity of the crowd.  It can really lift a runner up when those around them are having a good time as well.

Soon, the announcement about the start of the race was being made over the bullhorn.  Now, this is not officially a closed course, so as a personal choice, I didn’t run with my iPod or headphones.  I do believe I run better when I have my music, but I am a safety first kind of person, and while there is a police presence out there helping with traffic control…the fact that there is still traffic and vehicles that pass by, I choose not to listen to music on this run.  I didn’t last year either for the same reason.  Despite this, there was so much commotion and conversation going on with all the runners that I couldn’t hear what was being said anyway.  All I know is that the front line of runners hunched down to take their marks…so it was almost go time.

A horn sounded.  And off we went.

So, last year when I ran the Fast Freddie for the first time, I ran this route for the first time.  What I didn’t know then was how hilly this course is.  When you drive it in a car, you don’t even realize it.  But when you are racing up these inclines and hills…yeah…you suddenly take note of them.  I remembered this…and this past year have embraced running some of this course to get used to the hills.  When New Albany installed sidewalks down Grant Line Road, I could now run the entire route, safely.  And by doing so, I trained my legs not to fear those hills, but to power up them.

Within the first mile, we tackle one of the steeper ones.  This one actually comes within the first half mile.  It is so close to the start of the race that it’s enough to strike fear into some of the first-timers.  Runners are sent up an incline leading to a bridge that crosses over the highway.  I’ve done this portion of the run more times than I can count…coming from both sides of the bridge.  I do not fear this hill.  I use this as a challenge as often as I can.  And on the Fast Freddie, despite my legs being a bit cold from the slight chill in the air…I powered up it just as I would have in a training run.  I ran down the rest of Green Valley Road to the turn onto Mount Tabor.  Here we tick off Mile 1.  And it was there that I noticed the clock said 7 minutes and some-odd seconds and I knew I had gone out fast.  Faster than my training runs even.

Going into Mile 2 is a mostly flat course, with just a couple of minor, rolling hills.  Nothing that is too challenging to say the least.  It is probably the easiest of the miles to run.  The entire length of Mount Tabor Road is run, and then racers are directed onto Grant Line Road.  Here, we pass by Mile 2 and make our way to Sam Peden Community Park.  We turn onto Alex Thorn Drive and we encounter a water stop, just outside the fire department.  I bypassed it, aiming to tackle the incline leading into the park.  It doesn’t look like much…but it is quite tough to get up.  I know…I do it pretty often.

Mile 3 is halfway through the park.  Last year, this was where a horrible side stitch got me and I had to slow my pace a little until it passed.  I didn’t walk though.  This year, I flew by it without an issue at all.  I was no longer even looking at the clocks, I was just running.  Like I said, I made a point to run this course often.  The park is one of my favorite places to run anyway…especially on weekend mornings before a lot of people are up.  It’s quite and peaceful.  And with the small, rolling hills, a little challenging without being too hard.  But after Mile 3 we hit the most difficult portion of the run.

Runners leave Sam Peden Community Park via Schell Lane.  Schell Lane offers a nice variety of hills.  Not small rolling inclines.  No.  When I say HILLS, I mean HILLS.  And we get just over a half mile of them.  It’s nice, because you start off with a slight downhill.  But then you meet your first uphill.  Not much of a downhill follows that and then it’s back up a hill.  Here you do get a downhill run, but the next (and last) huge hill you run up is quite steep.  On my training runs, I always congratulate myself for reaching the top.  No…I really do.  I did the same during the race.  It’s not easy running Schell Lane.  I always tell myself when I get to that portion that it just means the worst part is almost over.

As a reward, as you head into Mile 4, you get a nice downhill run on Daisy Lane.  I love this part.  The downhill gives my legs a little bit of a reprieve, because I tend not to push on the downhills, just let myself go with the momentum, while keeping some control.  I don’t want to get injured, so I try to reign in the urge to just fly.  It levels off though and the rest of Daisy Lane means you really have to push.  But, at the end of Daisy Lane, you come back onto Green Valley Road and soon you only have the last half mile to go.

That is an amazing feeling.  If you are familiar with the area, then you know that last half mile doesn’t take too long to run.  It’s just past the Catholic cemetery, and from there, you can even see the Floyd County 4H Fairgrounds.  The finish line awaited.  So, I pushed a little more.  I pushed because last year I had so many people passing me and this year…I didn’t want that.  I pushed because I knew I could.  I’d done it before.  I’d done it countless times.  I knew every up and down of this stretch of road better than any other in New Albany.  Every outdoor run ends with this portion.  So…I ran my heart out.

I turned into the 4H Fairgrounds and could see my sign near the finish line.  Cathy was cheering me on.  I noted the clock at 38 minutes.  I was doing so much better than even I anticipated.  I gave it my all and crossed the finish line in 38:24.  I paused my Garmin and continued through the chute in the order I finished, handing off the bottom of my race bib and rounding through only to spot Cathy already waiting for me on the other side.  Biggest (and best) surprise was that she brought my water bottle with her.  She apparently saw me off, took stuff back to the apartment, grabbed some water and was back at the finish line to cheer me on.  See…it really is the least stressful race of all year.  She’ll agree with me on that in a heartbeat.  She handed me the water and took my card I was handed to fill out for a chance to win prizes in the raffle.

Me with Santa at the awards ceremony for the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast

Me with Santa at the awards ceremony for the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast

We decided to stick around for the raffle as well as the awards…because, despite it being Thanksgiving…I love doing that.  I grabbed a couple of extra water bottles, took a short walk, then went inside the main building of the Floyd County 4H Fairgrounds.  There were only a few people inside, so we went over to look at the records and past winners.  Then scoped out the cool trophies for the top finishers.  It was fun.  I finished all the water and we got to see the top three men and top three women get their awards.  Raffles were handed out.  I spotted Santa and got my picture taken with him.  And then age group awards were given.

Afterwards, no stress of trying to get out of a parking lot and get on the road.  We simply walked across the street and headed back to our apartment building.  From there, I took a quick shower and got to work on the vegetable dish I was bringing to Thanksgiving dinner.

Later that afternoon, the results were up on the page.  I immediately pulled them up and got to share that moment with my roommate and her family.

Official results of the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast are that I finished it in 38:24!  Yes…my fastest 5 mile time to date.  And yes, my roommate earned the right to tell me that she told me so when it came to finishing a 5 mile race in less than 40 minutes.  I figured I could do it, I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon.  I was 173/960 overall; 7/79 in my division.  Results for just the women runners haven’t been posted yet.  I am surprised, to say the last.  When last year I was ranking 437 overall…jumping up to 173 is a TOTAL improvement.  In my division last year, I was 18/78 runners.  When I can compare results like that…I really can see how my training, and my podiatrist (since my injury) have helped make me a better runner.  I’ve been running outside more.  I’ve been diligent with my miles and listening to my body.  I’ve come back from a crippling injury and become a fighter and a stronger runner due to it.

And on Thanksgiving…I had reason to give thanks for the chance to be able to run…and the gift of the run.  And I’m thankful for all of you…who cheer me on either at the races, or over the miles and the Internet.

For as long as I live in this area, I intend to make the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast a Thanksgiving tradition.

And maybe…just maybe…I’ll keep on improving.


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