Happy Holidays From Allen’s Road to Boston

It was the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for two large dogs, two kids high on Christmas anticipation, a cat, and two frazzled adults trying to wrangle them all. Thank god for the inventor of egg nog.

I just happened to realize that I’ve been MIA since before Thanksgiving. I figure I better post before millions of indignant Allen’s Road to Boston fans angrily protest around the world.

Without further ado:

Turkey Trot

My memory is already fading so I’ll try to hit the highlights. Let me preface this race recap by saying I love me a turkey trot – run hard, burn some calories, then stuff your face later, relatively free of guilt.

Laura and I actually arrived somewhat on time for this one and ran around South Park mall to get warmed up. We needed it – it was downright frigid (for us Southerners anyway), with temps in the low thirties.

Suddenly it was go time as we rushed towards the front of the starting corral. This race is huge by Charlotte standards – there were thousands piling in.

We made it to the second row when Rob, a few rows back, he of the Stash & Dash, called out to me, “Hey, what are you doing up there? You should be behind me!” and I yelled, “Shawn’s [as I pointed to my friend and occasional rival on the front row] slower than me and he’s on the front row!” This was really just me taking a playful jab at Shawn who had beaten me as recently as September, in the LungStrong 15K, but it was all for naught as Shawn didn’t hear a word of it.

I noticed one Tom Ricks, complete with baby stroller and child, lined up on the front row. “Please beat Ricks with the stroller. Please beat Ricks with the stroller.” became my starting-line mantra on this day.

Before I could even daydream about turkey and stuffing, without a hint of “On your mark…” or any countdown of any sort, the race abruptly started sans warning. I cranked out of the gate and realized, as usual, that I was off too fast as I glanced at my watch and saw a pace that was under 6:00. And Ricks was already a dot on the horizon. I abandoned my new mantra before we hit a quarter mile.

I felt quite good, which I found really weird as I had done virtually no speed work in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. I was worried that I might be on a fool’s errand but as I had no set-in-stone goal time or anything, I figured 6:30 pace was reasonable so I locked in.

With my early-onset Alzheimer’s kicking in, I don’t have a lot of concrete memories from this race. But here are some of them in bullet format:

  • Pre-race, I had spotted a pretty large contingency of Stash & Dashers. A couple of miles in, all of them were ahead of me except one, Johanna. When she passed me and said “Hi, Allen”, I instantly thought “Eff [okay, that’s not exactly what I thought] this.” And I dropped a hard surge. I couldn’t let every S&Der beat me.
  • Less than a mile to go, I passed Shawn who called out “Go Allen!” He was much nicer than I would have been had our roles been reversed.
  • Less than a quarter of a mile to go, I passed my friend Marc who yelled, “Seriously, Allen? You waited until now to pass me?” I quickly scuttled by without response, thinking “He clearly feels better than I do as he can speak. If I don’t pass strong, he’s going to pass me right back.”
  • In the last hundred meters, Laura’s family cheered and waved, so I pumped my fist in response until some guy snuck past me. “Less fist pumping, more sprinting!” I thought to myself. I caught and passed sneaky guy just before the tape.

I had some concerns that Laura might beat me – it wouldn’t be the first time this happened on a Thanksgiving. And it turned out these concerns were legitimate – I hadn’t caught my breath when she crossed the line.

20141127 laura edited

Laura, right on my heels, finishes the 2014 South Park Turkey Trot.

I was pleased with my finish time, just under 32 minutes. I think that’s my masters 8K PR – I can’t remember going sub-32 since the 80s. Full disclosure – the course came up a tad short on the Garmin, but that can be our little secret.

After the race, we shared a couple of beers with our friends April and Robby. Thanksgiving doesn’t get much better than this day – a good turkey trot, beers, then later, turkey, beer, and football.

The Latest

Next week, we start Boston training in earnest. I feel like we’ve laid down a pretty good mileage base.

Last night, with the weather not cooperating, I decided to dreadmill it, so after a surprisingly busy Christmas-Eve-Eve work day, I made my way to the gym at work.

The ashlocks congregated around me in the locker room as I tried to put nip-aids on. For some reason, I always find this embarrassing as non-runners (and the truth be told, probably some runners, too) stare at me like I’m an alien stepping out of a UFO every time I apply the little circle band-aids to my nipples in public. But embarrassment is a small price to pay to save my nipples.

Nip-aids safely in position, I put on some wireless headphones and started listening to the RadioLab podcast, specifically the episode entitled 60 Words – maybe slightly less compelling than Serial, but very interesting and highly recommended, nonetheless.

While I struggled on the god-forsaken treadmill, after I had already tortured myself through some five miles or so, a little old man stepped onto the treadmill directly adjacent to mine and proceeded to race me for two miles, and yes, I found this highly annoying.

For example, if I set my treadmill speed to level 6.7 (aka, MPH), he set his to 6.8. I set mine as high as 8, which prompted him to set his to 8.1. I really, really wanted to set mine on 11 (not sure if this treadmill even went that high – after all, I was not appearing in Spinal Tap) just to prove a point. But I resisted.

I finished up and left and thought my time with Competitive Gramps had come to an end. But apparently he had not yet accomplished his goal of being the most annoying gym ashlock in modern history. In order to do that, he had to wait until I removed all clothing and was buck-ass naked in the locker room and then he showed up and proceeded to do the same, again, directly next to me. I felt a little wave of nausea when he turned his back to me and a glance on my part revealed Gramps had a lower-back (aka, tramp-stamp) tattoo. Curiosity got the best of me – when he walked away, I simply had to know exactly what image this little gray man had chosen to don just above his wrinkled old turd cutter. My little wave of nausea turned into a full-blown tsunami when I discovered the tattoo was not a tattoo at all but instead was a clump of black hair, made more prominent juxtaposed against a field of gray. Mother Nature had designed this furry little
tattoo and let me tell you, Mother Nature is a horrible tattoo artist.

Not a story of particular significance along my road to Boston, but one that must be told.

Now I need to get back to the business of Christmas. Unfortunately, those presents are not going to wrap themselves. And there is egg nog to be drunk. Talk to you soon!


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