The Commodore Hull Thanksgiving Day 5k Road Race (CHTRR) might be my all time favorite race to compete in. It’s in my home town of Shelton, CT, it’s a low maintenance/ family friendly event and for me it signifies the beginning of the holiday season…in my opinion, the most wonderful time of the year.
I am proudly one of 17 people that has run the CHTRR every year since its first run in 2002. 304 people ran that race and over a decade later it has grown to over 650 running this year. I am the only member of this elite group (affectionately known as the plankholders) that lives outside of Connecticut. It’s so sweet how we get excited to see each other once a year gathering for the annual Plankholder Photo. We always have time to chat because Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti is late for the photo every year.
As much as I look forward to being a part of this annual hometown tradition, I get very anxious for it every year. I haven’t done
much any speedwork in a long time so sprinting for 3.1 miles was going to hurt. Also, I tend to put significantly more pressure on myself for this race than any other. I have often placed in my AG and can’t bear to see the streak end so I race my heart out hoping it will be enough. This year I moved into a new age group (OMG I’m 40) and really wanted to show up strong. I toed the line at the start with Jared and my cousin Tom and set a goal to stay with them as long as I could and ideally work toward a 7:30 pace which was really ambitious so under 7:40 was acceptable.
The gun went off and Tom blasted out in front. Jared and I ran together the first three quarters of a mile and I felt good but was working really hard. I was wishing I insisted that we did a warm up before the race because it was a beautiful morning but appropriately chilly for late November. The blog is about to get gross. I’m not a good spitter. In most aspects of my life this really isn’t a problem but as a runner I wish I could naturally clear my throat and rid myself of the mucus. Instead I end up choking on phlegm or spitting on myself. It’s a disaster and embarrassing and in this particular race it was messing with my rhythm. Just about a mile into the course I had lost Jared who decided he needed to catch up to Tom and I was on my own trying to stay on pace and not pass out from coughing. I hadn’t looked at my watch for pacing at all so when I approached the first mile marker and just thought to myself ‘please be under 8, please be under 8’. The clock said 7:12. Phew.
The next half mile continues uphill so I did my best to get my breathing back and focus on a good pace to the half way mark. Heading to the turnaround I got to high 5 Jared and then Tommy who had lost his lead in the family race I didn’t know we were having. The half way is such a relief in this race because you only have a mile and half to go and it mostly downhill. Heading down I was able to see more family starting with Erica and then my aunt Addie and family friend Holly. Everyone looked strong and like they were having fun.
I was feeling pretty good about myself and my pace as turned onto Howe Ave ready to run the last half mile. I thought there was a very good chance I could be on the podium for 40-49 women and maybe even win AG this year. I turned to my left to clear my throat again and almost spit on a woman so I yelled ‘Sorry!’ and while she raced passed me I couldn’t help but be disappointed…she was definitely 40-49. The last .3 or so of this race is super annoying because you run back to the race area to everyone cheering for you and then have to run over some grass and a long stretch before reaching finish line. I raced my way to the finish in 23:46 for a 7:39 pace (official race result) I was very pleased with. GPS said I ran 3.15 at a 7:32 pace – just sayin’.
Tommy and Jared were at the finish very dramatically trying to catch their breath so I went to find my Mom and Dad for a post-race hug to try and keep from crying because I swear my ears were bleeding (I googled this and it’s called Exercise-Induced Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. Despite the pain it is shockingly not life threatening). Everyone finished the race and after gathering the group for a post-race family photo we anxiously waited for results to go up. I was very happy (and only a little disappointed) to finish second in my AG – right behind the woman I almost spit on.
A coach of mine gave me great advice a long time ago when he reminded me that you cannot control who shows up to the race. You can only control your own efforts and if you’re lucky your all will be faster than everyone else’s. My ‘all’ was not faster than Lucia Hanock of Derby, CT so congratulations Lucia. You deserved the win and the baseball hat embroidered with First on the side. Well done girl!
As I mentioned, this is the 14th consecutive year I have run this race and every year when registration opens I tell all my friends and family to hurry up and register before it sells out – it hasn’t sold out in several years. Before Jared started racing it with me I could maybe get one cousin to join me and sometimes someone would bring a friend. This year I recruited FIVE family members to run the race with me. It was so special to have a big group all together early in the morning to kick off the holiday.
I can’t think of a better way to start Thanksgiving. Running this race, especially when I get to do it with my family, reminds me of all the things I am so thankful for – family, love, health, strength and the ability to kick butt early in the morning.
Thank you to all the organizers and volunteers of the Hull Race. We will see you next year!
Special thanks to all the photographers whose photos I stole off FB for the blog.