Turkey Leg Trifecta Race Report
So I had won a coupon for a race with Fun-Races.com after winning my AG in a July 4th race this past summer. I checked out their website and decided to give the Turkey Leg Trifecta a chance. The website said it was a 3 part trail race, (a 4k, 5k and 6k each an hour apart), on the west-side of Eagle Creek Park, a large park in Indianapolis. The west-side of the park though, is considered a Nature Preserve so there are no bridges over the creeks, steps down or up the ravines and it was all single track with very little room to pass. I’ve run 2 fulls and 1 half marathon plus a few shorter races on these trails and have loved it so I knew I had to sign up.
Saturday, November 26th, Race Day.
So, the first race started at 10:00. We left our house about 8:45 and at the last second, my 13 yo daughter, Kylie, suggested that we bring our dog, Guinness. Guinness isn’t the best in a crowd, she gets really nervous around men and had never run a race before. But, she runs at least 2 miles a day with me, 5 or 6 days a week so I figured I’d take her on the first race and go from there. We arrived at the park at 9:00 and I got my race packet. There wasn’t a map to look over but I felt really confident, after all, I’ve run 5 races over here (we won’t talk about the time I ran the trails by myself and got miserably lost!!) The atmosphere seemed really relaxed as you’ll have at trail runs. My kids were happy even in the cool weather (40*) because there was a Pokestop right there. Plus, I could park just yards from the start/finish so they stayed in the car to stay warm between races.
10:00 and the first race, a 4k, is ready to start. We are told by the Race Director that the trail would be marked with white flags on our right. Simple enough. I wear a leash around my waist for running with my dog. I like to have my hands free and she has more freedom that way as well. Guinness is nervous as we lined up in the crowd. She did not like the start, she got confused when the crowd started running forward but she figured it out quickly. We ran down the parking area and through some fields. Guinness was loving it. She was full out sprinting as I was working hard to keep up with her! We stayed off to the side so it was easier to maneuver. After about a mile, we entered the trails. And they were trails that I hadn’t been on, which I was so surprised about. Single track, covered completely in fallen leaves. Guinness was sure-footed and leading me along. We were in a line of people, up and down the hills, over the roots and around the trees. There were a few times that she went one way and the course went the other but for the most part, she did very well. Things did get tricky at a steep ravine. The runners came to a stop as people were going one by one down the ravine, over the little creek and back up an equally steep slope. I knew it wouldn’t be safe to keep Guinness on the leash so as we got closer, I undid her leash and encouraged her to find a way down. She was pretty surefooted and got across without much difficultly. I told her to stay as I climbed down and up myself. But as I looked up as I was climbing hand over hand up the slope, she was gone! I got really nervous and started calling her name, over and over again as I ran on the trail. Soon I glimpsed her, running along the trail, with other runners. As I called her name and whistled, I could see her pause and wait to see me and then start running with the next runner. Another runner managed to slow Guinness down and soon I caught up to her and got her back on the leash.
We continue on the trail and soon cross a grassy area that I know is near the finish area. My Garmin was showing just short of 2 miles so I knew we had a little more to go so I followed the runners in front of me into the woods again on another trail. I’m not right behind anyone but I’m within 20 feet of them. I notice that the flags that I’m seeing are orange and old looking and on the left instead of the right. But I’m following a group so I’m not lost, right? Yeah, about .4 miles into the trail, I see a big backup of about 15 runners just stopped. I thought it was another ravine slowing people down. Then I hear one runner yelling to the group that we’re lost, that it wasn’t the right trail. The group decides to cut through the woods to try and find the right trail. That lasts about 100 yards and a few of us decide to go back to the trail and double back to where we entered the woods. The rest of the group decides to continue on the trail. I’m the last in the group and Guinness and I are pushing along. She’s getting a tired and drops behind me as I continue on. Soon we were out of the woods and I see white flags marking a trail that was off the right of the trail I had been on. Sigh. There were volunteers here now and I asked where I should go, my Garmin was showing 2.6 miles so I knew I had reached 4k. They told me to just run to the finish line so I do that. Kylie and Matthew were there, cheering Guinness and I on as we crossed together! 2.8 miles, 35:29. Kylie said the first runner finished in 14 minutes, then another about 16:00 and 18:00. But then none for a long time so the volunteers headed out on bikes to find where people had gotten lost at. About 10 minutes later, I saw members of the group that went the other way on the trail finish up so I was very happy that I had just turned around on the trail. I grabbed some Gatorade and got a cup of water for Guinness. I told Kylie that Guinness would not be coming with me for the next races, it was just too scary to have to her running without the leash.
11:00 was the start of the 5k. I paid much better attention to the RD when he explained that we would be looking for the “dirty orange flags on our right.” The man next to me, who was the one who noticed that we were lost, yelled “I’ve already run those trails!” and everyone laughed. We start running and I kept my eyes open for those dirty orange flags! I was running at a good pace but once I was on the trails, I had to run at the person in front’s pace, which I didn’t mind at first. But after some time, I was getting anxious to move faster. The trails we were on were more familiar, although run backwards from what I was used to. I would get around people when the course gave me room. Then out of frustration, I decided that I had as much right to ask someone to move aside as anyone else did. So, I did that and was soon passing numerous people and running hard. There were several ravines to climb down and up that slowed me down. But soon, I was in sight of the finish line and Kylie, with Guinness, yelled for me to sprint (she’s getting back at me after I yelled at her all XC season!) I finished in 32:56 and my Garmin read 2.84. I didn’t know how I could have missed a turn and others said their Garmins where short as well so I felt ok about it. On a whim, I went to the results table and was surprised to see that I was 1st in my AG for the 5k. I asked if there was an award but they are only given to the winners for all 3 races. I explained that I had gotten lost in the 4k and they didn’t have those results but that many had gotten lost so I might still be ok.
The last race started at 12:20, a little late because they wanted to give all the finishers from the 5k a chance to finish. I decided that I needed to start closer to the front in order to avoid getting caught behind slower runners. So I made my way towards the front and ran hard from the very beginning. We were following red flags this time and it was a true out and back. The start was good and I was feeling very comfortable. The trail was the same start of the marathon that I had run in August and I knew it wasn’t difficult, no huge hills or ravines to climb. So I kept the pace fast, passing as I needed to but for the most part, the runners in front of me were my pace. As I was running, I was thinking that maybe they figured the awards by cumulative time so the faster I could finish this race, the better chance I had of erasing the deficit I had in the 4k. The trails again were all covered with leaves but I didn’t have problems with the roots or rocks. Soon the front runners had reached the turn around and were passing me on their way back. I kept an eye out for women and counted only 4 before I hit the turn around. I know I can pick up the pace so I keep pushing hard. There were about .8 miles of paved road or trail so I try to pass and speed up here. I only walked up one hill and that was only for about 10 feet. I pass one female on a steep hill and I keep pushing to get distance between us. Soon, I was on the grassy road that led to the finish area. I really kick to the finish and actually yelled to Kylie as I passed the car, I was way ahead of pace so she wasn’t ready for me! I had to loop around a few trees before finishing so she got to the finish to cheer me on. I hit my stop button on my Garmin and was stunned to see 34:38, yes, that’s right, both my 5k and 6k were faster then my 4k! And my 6k was only 1:18 slower than my 5k. The course was easier but I was also really running my hardest, a 10 on effort, no letting up. I finished 22/217 overall, 4/132 women and 1/50 for my AG.
The final results are interesting. My cumulative time was 1:43:05, which put me at 23rd overall and 5th female. Looks like they award the top 3 finishers for male and female only so I won’t get a AG award. But that’s ok, I know that if I hadn’t gotten lost, I would have taken probably 9 minutes off my time, which would have put me in the top 12 finishers.
So, to recap, I’ll be back next year. And Kylie wants to run it as well. It’s well organized, the medal is the size of a dinner plate and it’s inexpensive for 3 races. I would highly recommend!