Turkey Trotting in Indiana

When in Indiana, run the Drumstick Dash right? You who laugh are wrong! This is one of the biggest turkey trots on Thanksgiving morning in the country with over 15,000 runners! The best part about the event is that the entry fee goes to a really great cause, the Wheeler Mission.

Since 1895 Wheeler has been helping the community’s homeless and less fortunate. Each year the organization serves almost 300,000 wholesome meals and provides 120,000 warm overnight stays for homeless men, women, and children. The Drumstick Dash, held in Indianapolis benefits the Wheeler Mission so they continue to serve those in need. This was the 10th year of the race.

Level 1 Turkey: Ready to race…I think.

The “dash” is a run/family walk is a 4.6 mile course with a shorter 2.5 mile course option. Because of the vast numbers participating, upon entry I was asked to submit my pace. Did they want my best pace or my four days removed from JFK50 pace?! I opted for the aggressive option and went 5:30 and got a nice low number with a sticker on bib 43 claiming I was a fast turkey!

First male to catch the turkey (note the Brooks Flow’s on the turkey = respect!)

More exciting than the race was the opportunity to catch the turkey! A full costumed turkey gets a head start and a handful of runners attempt to tackle him to win a prize (I never found out what you win. Pride I guess.)

My blood glucose was at 300 before breakfast. Way off track. Luckily, I managed to bring it down to a perfect 171 pre-race within two hours. I lined up a couple of rows back from the very front and seriously debated going after the turkey. I realized how many young fast guys were ready and looking more keen than me so I opted to run the race properly instead. Boo. I know! The race begun at 9am in Broad Ripple, IN and took us on a large loop of residential streets. After half a mile, I saw the turkey . No, I wasn’t the first one. To my right sat a dozen or so extremely exhausted runners on the curbside. Good decision not to try to catch the turkey. I didn’t want to be sitting on the curb!

Mile 1 was a straight shoot east with loads of runners ahead of me. 5:40 pace on the watch, I felt terrible! At least I only had 3.6 to go though! I’ve got used to thinking of only a few miles to go in 50 milers and my 100 in Leadville so this was a treat (apart from the pace difference).

A ninety degree turn right and we were going south. The pack thinned out and I settled down slightly in a thinner line of runners. Some really heavy breathing going was gong on, luckily not mine. Just before we went under the old Monon railway bridge, we hit mile 2; 5:50. So, 5:30 pace was ambitious. I quickly settled for a new goal of sustaining a 5:45 average.

Mile 3 consisted of a handful of sharp turns with even sharper elbows. A nice reminder why I don’t run this short stuff too much. I didn’t appreciate getting cut off at a turn with over two miles of a race to go so when the next corner came, I had no problem returning the favor! Where were all the friendly ultra runners that like chatting?!

I was now close to a nice pack of ten ahead, two wearing turkey hats. New goal: don’t get beat by two guys wearing turkey hats. Got it. I kept the group within sight.  Just prior to the mile 4 marker (it looked like a U for 400 yards), I ran past the turkey heads.

One final turn left and I was back at Broad Ripple main street going east to the finish. I kicked hard having no real gauge of how far 0.6  miles was. I went past a few runners losing their form on the home straight. I saw an ambulance up ahead and took that as the finish area. Sure hoped so. Cheers from the crowd got louder and I kicked even harder to try to duck in under 27 minutes. The MC questioned my sanity for the sprint (there was no one ahead close enough to catch) and I crossed the line. Hands went immediately to my knees as I gasped for air. Soon, several runners came flooding in behind me and walked clear of the finish area. I stayed there for an eternity recovering. It just seems to be how I like to race. Run as hard as you can and give it everything, nothing left. Yep, even for a turkey trot!

It was a really satisfying race. My average pace was 5:44 and got me a top 50 finish. Not too bad a few days removed from 50 miles! It gave me a lot of confidence looking ahead to my final race: California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento next week. It may just go way better than I had originally planned. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt this good or recovered so well from running in my life. I am thankful for that and don’t take any of this for granted.

Tiffany soon followed me over the line and hit her time goal. We were both happy (and pretty tired). We ran the course one more time, at a much more comfortable pace and made it a 10 mile run day. Did you really expect me to stop at 4.6 miles? Turkey also tastes better after a good hard run. This year was no exception!

Running a second loop: Why not?

Call for Comments

%d bloggers like this: