Turkey Trot Race Report 2014

I love the Tallahassee Turkey Trot. I mean, love, bolded, in RED, italicizedunderlined love the Turkey Trot. I love the Turkey Trot so much that when my husband suggested I go to New York for my 50th birthday (which fell the day after the Turkey Trot this year), I refused to even think about it (and trust me, me turning down any hint of going to New York is big!).

"Tuning Up" with the Cycling Turkey four days before the race!

“Tuning Up” with the Cycling Turkey four days before the race!

Before talking about Thursday’s 10K race, I have to add a caveat. I wrote this post about finding “ands” instead of “buts” in your running and am the most ardent of believers in the fact that every runner matters, and that the joy of running can be found at the front of the pack, the back of the back, and everywhere in between.

Post-Turkey Trot Questions

But Thursday was a day that shook me up a little bit, and it will most likely be a milestone in my running journey. Around the 5.5 mile mark, and right at the moment a runner came up to me and said, “your pace has been great; I have been trying to catch up to you to tell you that,” my pace immediately became a walk as this happened:

Turkey Trot HR Chart

“This” is my heart rate going a little bit wildly off the charts of what is normal for me. (My normal is 143-186 (with 143 being where I could converse with you while running and 186 being my “sprinting as if my life depended on it” pace). There’s a good basic explanation of heart rate training from Chris Russell of Run Run Live here.

I have been training by heart rate (under a coach’s supervision) since April 2012. As far back as February 2013, when I ran the Flash 12K race, I have had odd HR spikes. I remember the “angel” runner who ran through the finish line with me saying, “we’ll do this together.” The issue started cropping up again this summer, at the Pot Luck Bash and each of the summer trail series runs. I sort of chalked that up to the heat and race adrenaline. I had a racing HR issue during one training run this summer but again … Florida is hot in the summer (mild understatement).

I finally decided to discuss this (and a few other “small” issues) with my primary care physician. He did an in office EKG (fine) but decided to go ahead and refer me to our health plan’s staff cardiologist (props to the health plan for having a staff cardiologist). He had me do a stress test (thanks for the mile, doc!) (fine) and went ahead and had me to a cardiac echocardiogram (fine).

Feeling relieved, I thought “I can put all of this cardiac worry behind me since I checked out okay.”

When My Gut Said “WALK”

I arrived at the Boston Mini Marathon on October 25, my second half-marathon, feeling great. Although it was cold outside, the weather was perfect for running. I felt so good about my weight loss, my improved nutrition, and the cause I was running for (Miles 2 End Prostate Cancer). I felt confident that I would shatter my previous half marathon time and at least finish in less than three hours. I was well on target to do that until around mile 5 when my heart rate started going a little nuts. I kept running, thinking I could run through it. When it refused to settle down, I started walking. I kept moving forward, and turned around at the half way point of the out and back race. I decided to try running again, remembering the cardiologist asking me “does it just feel like your heart is racing or do you feel loss of power, like you’re going to pass out, etc.?” Since it had “just” felt like my heart was racing, I decided to run again. That’s when it felt “not right” (I know, not a medical term but ….). I spent the last six miles of the race run-walking. The good news about the run/walk approach is that my HR stayed down. The bad news it took longer to finish the Boston Mini-Marathon than it had taken to finish the Boston 13.1 in September 2012, when I was definitely in relatively inferior shape.

Between the Boston Mini Marathon and Thursday’s Turkey Trot, my training runs have been solid (no HR issues) and I had one of my best 5K times ever (sub 34:00) at the Vet Fest on November 11.

The Turkey Trot day dawned perfect from a weather perspective. I felt great (again). Well trained, nutrition dialed in, happy to be running the last race of my 40s with 6000+ of my favorite people.

When my HR spiked at around that 5.5 mile mark, I didn’t bargain with myself as long as I had at the Boston Mini. I stopped to walk (very disappointed but knowing intuitively that it was the best decision). Again, this was more than “feeling a racing sensation.” It wasn’t right.

When I saw my friend Gabrielle close to the finish line, she was so encouraging. I don’t know why I felt compelled to explain (except that I am me, and that is what I do), so I told her I was having HR issues. I did run through over the actual finish mat, and since my friend Adrea was finishing the 15K at the same time, had a chance to hug a friend and celebrate a bit.

THEN I texted my coach, and eventually I just called her because I couldn’t drive home to all the people dying to move on to Thanksgiving dinner and explain my complex feelings via text.

It was during that talk that I first floated the “maybe I need to move to a run-walk for the longer distances idea.”

The important point here is that although I have zero, none, nada issues with run walking, I have always said “it is not for me” (which is why my friends who saw me walking at Boston knew there was an issue). I love the feeling of continuous motion; I love the feeling of speed (even though I know I am a slow runner). Once I move to run/walk there’s one more piece of technology getting between me and my mental bliss.

(I am also hesitant to limit myself to running only when I can find others with whom to run. I love running with others but also love running alone; it’s the most peaceful part of my day.)

The morning I ran the Run for Andy Nichols 5K in Blountstown, October 11, I went into my DailyMile and revised my goal of running a sub 30 5K to something less specific:


I know the likelihood of meeting the sub 30 goal is unlikely at this point. I also want to preserve my ability to run longer distances. Since these HR issues don’t seem to occur (yet) at the 5K distance, perhaps there is a middle ground for me in racing 5Ks and participating in 10s and halfs by run walking.

I have chidlren to raise and a second half century of life that just started; I don’t want to jeopardize it all just by being stubborn.

The Medical Part

It bears mentioning that I have done this drill before (in 2005). I was not actively running at the time, and after several EKGs and a nuclear stress test, I was told to drink less caffeine and given a clean bill of health. This time, the cardiologist has given me the same mini-cardiac lecture both times I visited him. He describes the heart’s anatomy and the little electrical bundle that coordinates the entire process. Ultimately, after three EKGs and an echocardiogram all were normal, he said I could wear a holter monitor for 24 hours but it’s really hard to wear a holter monitor and run (because the leads would get sweaty and fail to adhere). The other option is implanting a device that can track HR, and that invasiveness seems illogical in my situation. To his credit, he did refrain from suggesting I stop running until the very end of each conversation, and the gist of that part was, “if it only happens when you are running, you need to consider modifying your activity choices.”

I have asked myself if I am fretting for all the wrong reasons. With a congenital heart arrhythmia on Wayne’s side of the family that has led to the death of one member and life-changing modifications for many members, there’s been more than the usual chit chat about heart issues over the years and I always had the “luxury” of worrying about my kids but not myself (since they shared genetics with the affected person and I didn’t). My friend Lisa, one of the best athletes I know, had a massive heart attack while on a run and was saved because an RN was there. Another friend of a friend collapsed and died in the middle of a day on a regular training run.

I don’t know what the outcome of all this will be. I am going to focus on these four things and pray I’ve chosen the right four:

1) Continuing to work with Coach Kristie of KR Endurance to be the best (and healthiest) runner I can be

2) Knowing that each race is “mine” and no one else’s; I have only myself with whom to compete

3) Supporting causes I love through my activity, especially Charity Miles

4) Being grateful for all that running (and, ahem/sigh/okay I will say it) and run-walking has brought to my life and will continue to bring to my life.

Those four things deserve a big thumbs-up, in my opinion!

Photo Credit: Fred Deckert

Photo Credit: Fred Deckert


Tiaras Make Everything Better

Sometimes it just happens this way …. the day’s commitments align in a sequence that makes me think, “great! I’ll be outside all day (mostly); I will get to support runners, I will get my own run in, and then I’ll top things off with a less strenuous workout followed by socializing with yet more runners.”

I did make all three running commitments yesterday, but the day didn’t go exactly as per plan and left me pleading for my friends who help me reframe things.

Part 1

Back in April, I was one of several Gulf Winds Track Club members who participated in a 5K at a local women’s correctional institution (a few track club members had met with the inmates previously to speak to them about running; this was the first “event” and it was incredible.)

Yesterday, we returned to the facility to coordinate an intervals workout. Since I knew I had a long run scheduled for the day, I was a “cheerleader” rather than a runner. It was such a great experience! The women said, “I hoped you would come back,” “I told my family to look for you in the picture (from April), the one in the lime green shirt,” and “I’m gonna do this.” The statement that stuck with me the most was the woman who said, “I used to be the mom at my kids’ runs holding the water and clapping for the kids. When I get out, I am going to run with my kids and my mom doesn’t know it but she’s gonna run with us too.”

Part 2

My assignment from my coaches at PRSFit was to run 10 miles. The miles were primarily to be at Heart Rate Zone 2 (which is relatively “easy” — a HR where you can conceivably hold a conversation) with 3 minute surges to Zone 3 every 20 minutes. Since I had the commitment to help at Gretna in the morning and another commitment (a/k/a Part 3) in the evening, the only time I thought I had to do this run was immediately upon returning from Gretna. I knew it would be hot (high 80’s/low 90’s) outside and I knew it would be my longest run ever, but I thought I could power through, especially since I would be carrying 20 ounces of water in my water belt. This run just didn’t work out like I hoped. One of my Twitter friends had tweeted, “it’s okay to take walk breaks if you need to,” but I didn’t plan on taking walk breaks even if I had to slow down substantially.

Due to the heat, I never got down to Zone 2 the entire run. I also chose a hilly course (sigh). At least I was listening to a riveting audio book (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn). At the 1:40 mark, there was a sudden shift in my energy level; I went from a pretty steady run to what I call the “struggling to just keep one foot in front of the other” pace. Still, I was happy to be making progress, enjoying the book, and looking forward to triumphantly reporting on my first 10+ mile run on Daily Mile and on my report to my coach. At around the 2:20 mark, walking suddenly and immediately became an option when I felt a sharp pain in my right knee. And I still had over a mile to go to get back to my car. This is when the thing became all about survival. Survival and obsessing about what this meant for my September 16 half marathon as part of the Autism Speaks team. What ensued was me walking the mile+ back to my car, with a rapidly dwindling water supply, considering going in to the convenience store to ask for water, considering going up to strangers’ homes looking for water, considering begging. I hoped the park along Killarney Way would have a water fountain (it didn’t). But I did stop there and literally lay down under a shaded pavilion, praying to get back to my car without passing out (and glad I had finally sprung for a 1band ID so my husband could be reached if I did). Ultimately, I made it back to my car, and had a lovely time of 3:06 to report to my coach and DailyMile for this 11 mile run. UGH.

This did not go how I wanted. I know there are going to be days like this as a runner, but gosh it was disappointing.

Part 3

Part 3 was our women’s “Dash and Dine,” which is an opportunity for a bunch of us women walkers/runners to “dash” and then “dine.” The rules are fairly loose: NO MEN, NO DRAMA, NO WHINING, NO WORRIES. (sorry gentleman!).

The way yesterday’s Dash and Dine was configured, we could choose to walk/run a 2 mile loop, a 3 mile loop, or a 5 mile loop on a local trail, followed by dinner at a Mexican restaurant. I had planned to walk 2 miles, then join the dinner outing. But after Part 2,  the last thing I wanted to do was anything that involved putting one foot in front of another and sweating. Which is why I nixed the “dash” and only did the “dine.”

Why did the “dine” matter? It mattered because my friends were able to reassure me that my tweets about how I didn’t like running that day, my long Daily Mile report which just asked people to chime in and help me reframe my run, and my report to my coach which may have contained a little bit of whining and self-pity were just a bump in the road; that things would get better and it still mattered that I made it 11 miles.

And they gave me a tiara. Tiaras make everything better: