On Thanksgiving I raced in the 2010 Gobble Wobble 5k in Abington, PA. My fiancée Meaghan’s parents live in Maple Glen and it’s become tradition to run this 5k every year and she dresses up with her siblings in turkey costumes. I did not wear a turkey costume.
You might think I’m not any fun, but it’s really hard to race fast with cardboard wings and a shirt full of cotton stuffing. I was 3rd last year in 16:47 and I wanted to improve upon that. I’ll leave the costumes to Meaghan and her brave brother and sisters. For me, I stuck with some half-tights, a singlet, and my trusty Hyper Speeds.
The race started at 9am – very late for a road race but perfect for me. I like my beauty sleep and having several hours to digest breakfast, jump-start my caffeine buzz, and warm-up properly. We had already picked up our packets so my number was already conveniently pinned to my singlet. Pre-race preparation is key.
We were a little late to the race than I would have liked (8:15) so I was only able to do about 5 minutes of dynamic stretches and mobility drills before my warm-up. I ran for 17 minutes and then changed into my flats. I jogged over to the starting line and did 6 strides, getting progressively faster, before the gun fired.
The course is hilly, with the first mile being fast and predominantly downhill. The second mile is about half up hill and the last mile has equal parts uphill and downhill. It’s a tough course to race fast on and it tends to beat your legs up.
A great aspect of the Gobble Wobble is that it ends on a cinder track near the starting line. It’s not exactly the “stadium finish” they claim it to be, but runners are able to tear up about 350 meters on an old-school cinder track. It makes for a fast finish.
Just like last year, many runners went out way too fast. After about a quarter mile, I was in 15th place and knew that many of these runners were in way over their heads. When we hit the first uphill, a lot of people dropped back. I hit the first mile in 5:02 in 8th place, satisfied with the split but knowing the next mile would be slow.
And slow it was. With nearly 2 minutes of uphill running in the second mile and barely any downhills, my second mile split was 5:41. I was in 9th place at the 2-mile mark. At this point, I was feeling good but not great. The hills take the pop out of my legs and I knew I had to refocus my efforts for a strong 3rd mile.
The middle half of the last mile is mostly downhill (my poor legs) and I was able to pass three runners as we closed in on the finish. At the end of the Gobble Wobble 5k, you cross the starting line and run around a chain link fence onto the cinder track after a short but steep hill. I made up a lot of ground on the 4th and 5th place runners on that hill.
With the hills behind me and only 300 meters left to go, I was in 6th place with two runners right in front of me. I swung wide and sprinted around them on the first straight-away, then tucked in the first lane on the curve. I kept it steady until the finish line, finishing in 4th place overall with a time of 16:32. My last 1.1 miles took 5:47, or 5:15 mile pace.
Overall, I’m pleased with the race. While my place was higher than last year, I ran 15 seconds faster and competed well. My left soleus had been very tight the week prior and I missed a few days of training so I could focus on recovery. Missing days of running (even if you’re pro-actively preventing a serious injury) can often leave you feeling uncoordinated and stale. I didn’t feel great going into the race, but I made the best of it. I did some easy running during the rest of last week, but otherwise did no real training. I’m considering it a down week.
With my goal of running a half-marathon in the spring, training for the next few months will emphasize a gradual mileage build-up, progressively longer long runs, and a focus on volume. My hope is to get 1-2 months of 80+ miles per week to ensure I’m in great shape to beat my personal best in the half of 1:13:39. I’m sure I’ll be spending plenty of time with my foam roller in the months to come.
Full Results. (Search 2010, November, and finally 2010 Abington YMCA Gobble Wobble)
And now, to announce the winner of the book giveaway for The Running Life! The lucky winner is Michael Yoon – expect an email for your mailing address soon. Thanks everyone for playing and be sure to stay tuned for more giveaways soon. To buy a copy for yourself, visit the book’s website at Monterey Running Life.