Friday, November 27, 2015

Fox & Turkey 4 Miler Recap

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Did you eat too much? I'm not too proud to say that I certainly did! I'll try to do better today. ;--)

Judging from my social media feeds, a lot of you raced as'd it go? Mine was amazing, you know how I talk about epic runs that you remember for a long, long time? I was fortunate enough to have one of those on Thursday.

I definitely wasn't expecting it, after all, I hadn't run a race in exactly four months and my race tactics in the races leading up to that had been less than stellar. My goals were pretty conservative, I just wanted to run more by feel and finishing in under 44 minutes would've been a great day for me.

The Fox & Turkey 4-miler has been around for a while, as Thursday's race was its 19th edition. I had run it a few times in the past, the first time was in 2000 and the last in 2008. What the race is now is way different than the last time I ran it seven years ago.

Back in 2008, the race was pretty small, with only a couple hundred runners, and it was run almost exclusively on the Fox River Trail, a paved path that runs along the Fox River. The scenery was beautiful, but the course was basic, we would run two miles out, turn around, and come back.

Now the race has over 2,000 runners and walkers and is run through the neighborhoods of Batavia, a nice town of about 30,000 people that is part of a pretty good running community. Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles are known as the Tri-Cities and they always turn out great high school track and cross country runners. Dan Huling, a steeplechaser who finished fifth in the World Championships in that event over the summer, is from Geneva, as is Kevin McDonald, who was a great high school runner and is now a 2016 Olympic hopeful in the triathlon.

I had registered in advance, but since I had never run the race in this setup and didn't know the lay of the land, I arrived about an hour early. I was really happy about the weather, as it was in the low-50s, overcast and there wasn't much wind -- a perfect day to race. Those conditions made it hard to believe that we had been dumped on with about 10 inches of snow over the weekend! Thankfully there isn't much of that left.

I lucked out and found a great parking spot about 100 yards from the start/finish line, so I was able to grab my number, walk to my car and take my time getting ready. By the time I got back to the start, I still had a lot of time before the race and I was trying to figure out what to do until the race started.

Then I was approached by a co-worker of Darcy's named Evelyn. I guess she had recognized me from pictures Darcy has posted on Facebook, so we talked running until the race was ready to start. Evelyn had run the Chicago Marathon last month and likes the half-marathon distance, so hopefully I can get her to sign up for the Indy Mini!

When the race started, Evelyn jumped into the crowd a little further up than I did, as I wanted to be near the back to start a little slower. The one thing I liked about this new course is that there is a large hill at the start so it kind of leads to keeping under control at the start, and on the flip side leads to a big finish!

I ran with my Runtastic app going, although I had told myself to just use it for splits after the race, and not to look at it at all while I was running. The satellite must have lost me at some point because in the end it showed I had run 4.1 miles, but I spoke to others that had it closer to four miles, so no big deal. Besides, the race had 13 turns (by my count), so unless you take the tangents perfectly you will end up a bit over.

The first mile has a 65-foot incline, so I was able to stay with my plan and ran the first mile in 10:42, which may not be perfect given my GPS issue, but it was my slowest mile of the day, and that's what mattered. Plus, I never even saw a 1-mile sign, so I was kind of blissfully unaware at that point.

Once things leveled off, I settled into a nice groove and while I wasn't running "hard", I was a bit "uncomfortable", meaning I was pushing a little to the point where I was feeling it, but was still at a pace I knew I could hold for a while.

A little into the race I was still a little bugged that I hadn't seen a mile marker, so I checked my Runtastic and found we had already gone 1.86 the race was almost half over! We went around a corner and there was the 2-mile mark and a water stop. I decided to take my time at the stop, so I grabbed three or four cups of water and just took my time.

My official split for mile two was 9:37, which I hardly expected, but it got even better from there! I ran mile three in 9:45 (which included the water stop) and started setting my sights on the finish. With the big downhill ahead of me, I knew it was just a matter of getting there and letting gravity tow me to the finish.

I was getting a little tired but just tried to hold my pace as best as I could. I wasn't passing anyone at that point, and no one passed me, so I mush have done well at that. As we neared the top of the hill my GPS hit four miles, with my fourth mile split in 9:14. Looking at all the data, it appeared the first mile was the long one so the last three splits were pretty legit.

But the number that caught my attention was the elapsed time: 39:17. Holy cow, I had a chance to break 40 minutes! From there I just absolutely powered down that hill with everything I had, hitting a top speed of over 10 mph (sub 6-minute pace) and gobbling up huge amounts of road with each stride.

As I neared the finish, there was a huge crowd already there, and they had crowded into the street, making our path to the finish a bit narrow. I loved it! I loved the feeling of flying by all of those people while going that fast. It was so cool!

By the time I got across the line, my watch said exactly 40 minutes, but my official time was 39:51! I am so, so thrilled by that, because it was totally unexpected. I didn't feel like I had run that fast in training, and I haven't been logging a lot of miles, so my run was a very pleasant surprise.

I saw Evelyn after the race, and she was happy with her time of 45:21. I also ran into three friends from Aurora: Jeff, Dyzzy and Sean Kramer. Sean was a middle school classmate of Kevin's and I coached him on the basketball team for four years. He is small but has a huge heart, he always played hard and loved to play defense, and I knew with that attitude he would make a good runner. Sean runs at Marmion Academy and finished in 38:10. Dyzzy, his mom, has been a runner for years and finished in 38:59, while Jeff ran 35:44. I was particularly impressed with Jeff, as he had trimmed down a lot in the last few months and didn't really take up running until over the summer.

All in all, it was a great day. I followed my race tactics exactly, ran way above what I expected, met a new friend and reconnected with a few others. I also got to represent the Indy Mini for the first time and was so happy to be able to sport my Ambassador shirt.

I had so much fun that I can't wait to do it again...soon!


  1. WOW!! Congrats on that awesome finish time! I'm in Iowa, but I'm always trying to find races out of state...I might have to look into the Indy Mini ;-)

  2. Thanks for the kind words! You can't go wrong running the Mini...Indy is a great town to visit and the race is a great experience.

    1. Just checked the site...our oldest daughter graduates from college that weekend, which kind of trumps any out-of-state travel. Maybe another year ;-)

    2. Darn it! :--) Well, put that one on your running bucket list! Congrats to your daughter, next May my oldest will be halfway there!

  3. Congrats on a great race and unexpected finish time! I always seem to go faster in races than I do in my training runs. It looks like a beautiful place to run! That race sure has grown since 2008. So nice that they moved the hill to the end of the course to lead up to a big finish. It's always tough when the hill is at the beginning.

    1. Thanks! I really didn't know what to expect since I had rarely been running on the clock, so that was a nice surprise! I'm so excited about it since the weather is going to be nice this weekend I have already entered another 5K!

  4. Should there be another persuasive post you can share next time, I’ll be surely waiting for it. Triblend Melange