For many years, Thanksgiving was a huge tradition for our family. Everyone would gather together, travel to south Florida, and celebrate an annual feast where we had the chance to catch up with aunts, uncles and cousins we haven’t seen since the previous year. However, this year things are different. Since the passing of the great aunt and uncle that always hosted our annual dinner, we are marking a new Thanksgiving tradition for 2017.
This year, we started our Thanksgiving morning by joining six thousand other runners and walkers in an annual Turkey Trot. It’s hard to believe that after all of the races I have been privileged to participate in, this was my very first Turkey Trot. Apparently, I had just no clue at how popular this race was.
My first clue should have been the email we received about carpooling. Carpooling? Really? I can’t imagine that many folks getting up that early to run when this was their chance to sleep in on a weekday and prepare to feast. But, I was proven wrong.
Fortunately, mom had decided to sign up for the one-mile fun run. We met in a parking lot not far from the race start where other grandma was our designated “Uber driver”. Perhaps they had been right after all about that carpooling suggestion.
Once we were dropped off at the race start, we were greeted by thousands – literally – of our fellow Turkey Trot runners. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people coming out to enjoy this event. Families were there by the droves and it was pretty darn awesome.
We didn’t have much time to waste before the fun run start. We snapped a few pictures, hit the porta potties and before we knew, it was time for mom to begin her race.
When she took off, we wandered around for a few minutes and slowly made our way to our corral. I was thoroughly impressed with the way the corral was set up. Usually for local races, it’s kind of free-for-all and you stand where you feel the most comfortable. But this time there were signs indicating that if you were under an 8-minute-per-mile pace, you needed to line up behind the sign, and so forth. I was so proud to be able to stand between the 10-minute-per-mile sign and the 8-minute. Maybe all the time spent on the pavement was beginning to pay off.
As the bell sounded, we took off. Honestly, it was like a massive herding of cows – reminding me all too much of a miniature Disney race. But, after about the first half mile, the crowd began to spread out and we were able to get into a good pace. We jumped onto the sidewalk a few times because it was much less crowded and we were able to pass without any trouble.
Despite my excitement for this event, this race was challenging. I felt super sluggish at times and swore that my pace was dragging. But that wasn’t the case. Maybe I was just missing a nice cup of coffee, or maybe it was all that holiday food I had been partaking in the few days before. Not long before we hit mile 3, I started dropping back from hubby. Today just felt hard. I’d like to blame it on the rain that started more than a heavy drizzle on us, but that most likely wasn’t the culprit. Some days, running just felt hard.
As we rounded the last corner and headed home to finish, I pushed myself harder. And boy, I’m glad I did. After the race – and after a brief stop at Starbucks for a holiday flavored cup of java – we got the results. I placed 16th out of 147 in my age group! I couldn’t believe it. Maybe, just maybe, all of this hard work is really starting to pay off.
What I realized that day is that sometimes running feels great. Sometimes it feels like it’s zapping every ounce of willpower from your already depleted system. Today was apparently one of those days for me. And that’s okay. It won’t always be easy, but I will always keep pushing forward.
Besides, when I look at this one race shot, I realize that I was doing something I loved at that very moment and that makes those hard days all the worthwhile.
Dress up! Turkey Trots are so much fun and the more adventurous the costumes the better.
Carpool. Heed their advice.
Make this an annual family tradition. Nothing starts off a great day with family more than sharing some exercise before it’s time to feast.