The Turkinator

Posted: October 19, 2013 in In Transition
Tags: , ,

Every now and again I stumble across an old photo on Facebook, or some other social media site that ends up jogging my memory about an event that occurred well before I was really into chronicling this whole triathlon journey on this blog; a story that might have otherwise been lost to time.

In this case, it was a photo about this particular guy:

The infamous Turkinator T-1000.

The infamous Turkinator T-1000.

Meet Fred, or sometimes referred to as Frank or ‘Terry the Terrifying’ (not my idea).  At the time I just called him ‘that fucking turkey’ and, believe it or not, this turkey was what you might call my first training partner.

I met Fred back in the summer of 2009 after I had just started to get myself rooted in triathlon after having competed successfully for one season in a few local races.  I didn’t really know what I was doing back then and I was just happy to make it to the finish line alive.  I didn’t really “train” as I’ve come to know it now and I didn’t understand the concept of having a disciplined training schedule.  I just swam, biked and ran whenever the mood took me.  My swim workouts (once a week) consisted of a few laps at the YMCA at some point during the week, my bike rides occurred on Sunday mornings with my TryForce group and my runs, well, I ran whenever I felt like it…which wasn’t often.  I hated running.  I mean, REALLY  hated running.

So at this particular juncture of my triathlon career, whenever I happened to run it wasn’t for very far.  In fact, my “long” runs consisted of, maybe, six or seven kilometers at best.  The idea of my participating in even an Olympic distance triathlon, much less an Ironman, was still absolute crazy talk, so those short six or seven kilometers were plenty long in my mind.  They were never done at anything more than a slow shuffle and I they took absolutely everything I had to simply finish without quitting or stopping to walk.  I was still pretty proud of myself at the time but, looking back at it now, they weren’t any real big whoop.  I mean, those distances are what I call my ‘recovery jogs’ now.  It’s funny how time and experience has a way changing your perspective on things.  C’est la vie, I suppose.  So anyway, from where I lived downtown at the time, these six or seven kilometers would often have me to the north end of town and back.

Yes, there were even these signs posted in the neighborhood.

Yes, there were even these signs posted in the neighborhood.

At this same time, another local character was beginning to frequent the streets in an around the north end as well.  Yup, you guessed it, Fred, a wild turkey.  I had seen signs referencing Fred and read the newspapers articles about him blocking traffic along Lakeshore Rd., but I never really gave any of it any serious consideration. After all, who worries about a turkey?

But then it happened.  I had made a turn onto Aquadale Dr. looking to check out a fresh neighborhood who had not yet had the pleasure of seeing this fat ass grace its pavement when there it was – standing in the middle of the road directly in my path – that fuckin’ turkey.  My first reaction wasn’t exactly one of nervousness or caution, but more of the type that one gets when they suddenly cross paths with a celebrity.  It was more of a “Holy shit!  The turkey!  Cool!”  type of response.  It looked passive enough, harmless even, so maybe I was even a bit enamored that I had happened to cross paths with the famous foul from the papers.

It just looked at me.  That’s all.  And as I got closer I figured it would just eventually give way and let me pass.  But it didn’t.  It stood its ground.  Now, I had also read in the papers that Fred had allegedly attacked a school bus, a police cruiser, kids on bikes, dog walkers and other neighborhood joggers but I had chalked it all up to just being part of a big media gag.  After all, it’s a fucking turkey right?  But I figured I give credit where it was due and proceeded to give the belligerent bird some berth and I moved to the side of the road and attempted to simply jog around it.

Yeah right.

Save the turkey, my ass!

Save the turkey, my ass!

Fred continued to stand his ground.  And when I came within, say, 15 ft. of the bird, it happened…he came after me.  And I don’t mean he just moved in my direction, I mean this damn thing gave chase…and fast!  Fred absolutely tore after me like nobody’s business and I was certainly not prepared for how incredibly quick this thing moved.  Did you know that wild turkeys can move up to 25 mph?  Yeah, me neither!  It was like a scene from ‘28 Days Later’, with my fat ass being chased down the street by this gobbling demonic foul.

Now, I’d like to say at least I was manly about it, but I doubt it.  It was probably more of a run with arms flailing madly in the air while shrieking like a little sissy girl, particularly when it pecked me once, twice, a dozen times on the back of my legs.  And let me tell you, if you’ve never been attacked by a wild turkey, it’s no bloody picnic.  I’m sure the passing motorists and local residents looking on from the safety of their front windows – and, yes, I did notice a few – must have been treated to quite the spectacle as this turkey gave chase to a chubby jogger in spandex.  And the worst part was that it didn’t exactly give up either.  He just kept coming!  Like a feathered terminator.

Now, remember, I didn’t train back then so the concept of “tempo” running, speedwork or  “fartleks” for that matter, were still as alien to me as playing the bagpipes with my asshole, so after a block I was pretty much running on pure fear and adrenaline rather than any degree of cardio fitness.  It felt like my heart was going to implode inside my chest.  And so it went for a few blocks, where Fred would slow down some so I would take a break too and then, as if he sensed weakness, he’d ramp it back up and give chase all over again.  It was as terrifying as it was mortifying.

In my head I was scripting my own eulogy:

Local triathlete meets end at the hands of marauding turkey while out jogging


Not exactly the kind of epitaph that someone wishes to shuffle off this mortal coil with, right?

They say that wild turkeys in urban settings are not very smart and they end up mistaking humans, vehicles and whatnot as other turkeys and act out aggressively as a way of asserting their dominance.  Or, they see their own reflection in something shiny and go on the attack.  But I ask you, what is so stupid to think that I – ME – a (then) 37-year-old runner in bright neon spandex shorts could ever be mistaken as another turkey?  I think Fred knew exactly what he was doing when he decided to lay into me.

That’s right.

I think Fred just hated triathletes.

There, I said it.

So in hindsight, that was my last run through the streets of north end St. Catharines anyway.  And to this day, whenever I come across wild turkeys – which, as luck would have it where I live now in the rural country, is quite often – instead of trying to go around it, I do an absolute 180° about face, and head in the opposite direction.  Quickly, I might add.  Shit, I still picture Fred for added motivation when I’m out doing my speed intervals now!

Oh, and let’s just say that that first bite of Thanksgiving dinner now is just that much more savory and enjoyable as well.

Fuckin’ turkey.

  1. jeff c says:

    LOL classic!

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