Jeff Vorva Times Correspondent
Vicki Russell had ambitious goals in 2021.
Breaking his personal best in a 5 km race was not one of them.
First and foremost, the Tinley Park resident turned 50 in March, and she knew she wasn’t going to spend it on a beach like she’d hoped because of COVID-19 concerns.
So her plan for 2021 was to run a 5K at least 50 times in the year she turns 50. She has achieved a double-digit total of official races she has run. The rest were races with friends at Yankee Woods, near Tinley Park, or Swallow Cliff Woods, near Palos Park, to pass the Goal 50 5K.
What happened on November 7 at Tiney Park Turkey Trot, however, came as a shock.
She said she didn’t use headphones or a watch when she ran, so when she saw her time of 25 minutes and 20 seconds, she couldn’t believe it. His previous best 5k time was 25:56 at the Turkey Trot in 2002.
“Being 50 and setting my best time is like…wow,” she said.
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Russell took a different approach to racing in 2021, which may have helped break his decades-old record.
“A bunch of us are working out with a trainer, and I started lifting and doing more weight with my legs,” she said. “It was things I had never done before.
“After doing squats and lunges, I realize that you can’t just run. You have to do other things to strengthen your body. I watch my diet and my exercise regimen. You can’t just run.
The Turkey Trot passes through Vogt Woods and Russell ran in the 30 Trots offered by the village. The 30 was the charm.
“I know the course very well and the weather was perfect,” she said. “There were no hills except small hills at the end.”
Russell used to run marathons and half marathons, but he’s stuck with 5K since back surgery in 2017.
But 2020 was a lost cause for her due to the pandemic, another reason to have weekly 5k races in 2021.
“Everyone was stuck at home and I said, ‘I can’t be home all the time,'” she said.
Running weekly 5Ks also has its share of weather issues. In mid-February, she and her friends ran in the cold and snow. They decided to follow the course of the Turkey Trot.
“I run outside because I don’t like running inside on treadmills,” she said. “For me, it’s torture. Once you started running in the cold it was pretty nice. The street was lightly plowed. I had done the Turkey Trot for as long as they had it. I knew the course and we had a great time.
Russell is a teacher at Century Junior High School in Orland Park and has a collection of her race bibs in her class.
She is known to get up early to run.
“I am a teacher and I love my job. I tell you it’s the best job in the world,” she said. “But I think for mental health reasons, going out and running in the fresh air does something to you. It helps endorphins.
Russell attended Tinley Park High School, saying she was a bench warmer in basketball, volleyball and track and field.
During her college years, she started running miles and increased those distances afterward.
What are his plans for 2022?
In January, the plan is to do 100 lifting exercises a day. In March, she will run every day.
“My family thinks I’m crazy,” she said.
30th Annual Tinley Park Turkey Trot