Turkey Trot October 31 2016

According to the New York Times, in 2014, more than 786,000 runners crossed the finish line at Turkey Trot or other Thanksgiving Day race events.  Many are shorter mileage (3.1 miles / 5K) races that are great for anyone from first-timers to veteran racers.   

Here are a few tips to safely getting in a few miles before sitting down to dinner.
The key to dressing for any race – whether in colder temperatures or warmer ones – is to wear layers.  Being too cold is as harmful as being too warm, so have on layers that you can easily discard or add if needed.  I start with my usual base layer of a tighter-fitting tank top, and then longer sleeve shirts that keep me toasty while waiting.  On the bottom, I am a JWalking Purple Plaid Kilt girl, rain or shine, but in the winter, I add our Eco-friendly Leggings underneath.
Instead of cotton, which will hold water (sweat, rain and snow), you’ll want to dress in moisture-wicking, tech fabric that will repel water – “wick it away” as the name implies.  On top, have a windproof, if not waterproof, jacket or vest that you can take off and tie around your waist if you get warm during the miles.
Also, bring along a hat, scarf, and gloves that you can wear, carry or leave in your car as needed.  I stockpile those $1 stretchy throw-away gloves that I don’t mind shedding or putting into one of our JWalking skirts/kilts many pockets.
Even though this is lower mileage, you still want to make sure you eat breakfast and have something to drink in the morning.  For food, you’ll want to have something with a good mix of protein and carbohydrates to give you the fuel to go.  An egg sandwich, a peanut butter sandwich, oatmeal and a banana are all great things that will get you moving.
I do not love a big breakfast before running, so I choose to eat a quick protein bar on the way to the race.  My dad, on the other hand, eats like he is taking on an Ironman Triathlon – ingesting bagels and, if my mom gets up with us, an egg or two.  While I roll my eyes at his pre-5K fueling – I am his kid after all - I believe that if that food works for him, he should go with it.  That same rule applies to you.
You get to the registration table at the race and are given a race bib and safety pins.  Pin the bib on the front of an outer layer of your clothing that you know you are going to keep on throughout the race.  You want the bib on an outside layer of clothing because many double as your timing chip – the device that will record your official race time.  You also want it on the front of your clothing because, if there are photographers, your race number is how you will be identified in photos.  Plus, it ain’t easy pinning a race bib to your back!
I get warm quickly on a race, so I tend to pin my race bib to the front of my JWalking skirt – a layer I know I will not be taking off. 
Ask my dad and he’d say, “You warm up by sitting in the car with the heat on full blast!” (Bet you can imagine many of our pre-race conversations)…
You do not want to stretch out cold muscles, so stick to walking or light jogging before the start to warm your legs up.
A Turkey Trot is a great foray into endurance events, so a lot of new-to-racing people sign up.  The safest thing to do if you’re new is to line up nearer to the back and, if you are unsure of your pace, to the far side.  That way, you should be clear of faster runners who may unnecessarily get frustrated by slower paces.  
When the race starts, we all feel the excitement and want to start off fast.  But, going way beyond your pace early means you may not have anything left for the end of the race.  Slow and steady wins overall, so stay to your pace.  And HAVE FUN!!
Not only is a Turkey Trot a great way to burn calories before the Thanksgiving feast, it gets your metabolism revved up for the rest of the day.  It also promotes family, friend and community bonding, and in my dad’s case, boasting at our family dinner about a job well done.