Okay, it was actually called the Turkey Chase. Funny thing is that there were actually no turkeys to chase. Even if I had caught a turkey, what would I do with it? I don’t eat turkeys and I really don’t think a turkey would make a good pet. Wait, there was a dude wearing a turkey on his head. Too bad I passed him in the first tenth of a mile.
Thanksgivings in Jacksonville consisted of a half marathon followed by the family meal. I know we didn’t live there very long, but I would like to say that it became a tradition. Not really a family tradition because I usually ran the half marathon without my family, but I always found friends at the starting line. Last year I even managed to achieve my half marathon PR on Thanksgiving. That will probably be my fastest half marathon ever because I am not getting any younger. Needless to say, it was a memorable (and very WARM) run.
This Thanksgiving was supposed to be different. For one thing, there was no half marathon… only a 5K. Second, it would be a family event. I was excited because my oldest daughter told me that she wanted to run the 5K. So, the plan was that I would run with my oldest daughter while my husband pushed the youngest two in the jogging stroller. Actually, he would have a stroller stand-off with his friend who would also be pushing a double jogger.
My daughter and I trained. She ran 3 miles on more than one occasion. She ran on the treadmill next to me at the YMCA. She ran along the path next to the creek while I pushed the jogging stroller. She even ran up the hills near our house. When the week of the 5K arrived, I announced her ready to rock and roll!
Next thing you know, it was Thanksgiving morning. It was a beautiful day outside and only slightly chilly (in the 40’s). Our youngest daughter awoke with another bowel issue (a common theme for the week). My husband told me that he would stay home while I took our oldest daughter to the race. I started to put the plan into action… until… our oldest daughter proclaimed “I’m not feeling so well. I don’t want to run today.” My heart sank. I was in deep despair (okay, maybe I am exaggerating just a bit). I looked at my daughter and was suddenly not so sure about her ailment. Was she really sick or was she avoiding the run? The second option did worry me. Did I push her too much? Does she actually hate running, but is too afraid to tell me? I’m still not sure, but I am slightly comforted by the fact that she laid around all day and didn’t really have much of an appetite (of course I don’t want her to feel sick, but I was just relieved that maybe she didn’t run because she really was sick). Regardless of how she really feels, I will take a break from the coaching. I don’t want her to hate running as much as I did as a kid. You know those mile runs in P.E.? I would silently tell the P.E. teacher to screw off as I WALKED the stupid mile run.
After much debate about who was doing what, I finally walked out the door alone. Alone again for a Thanksgiving run. As usual, I did encounter friends at the starting line. Maybe I was somehow able to bring that piece of Jacksonville with me. As I stood at the starting line, I thought about how this 5K would turn out. Did I want to run fast? Did I want to jog as I had originally planned to do when I was expecting to run with my daughter? Of course I chose the first option. It sure does annoy the heck out of my husband, but I don’t know any other way. I’m talking about my competitive nature. I’m not exactly sure where it came from. It didn’t flare up until recently… at least I don’t think so. Maybe I am in denial… I’m not sure. I guess maybe I have always been in competition with myself.
Screw it. I will run fast. I will try to fly past as many people (and turkeys) as I could. What did I have to lose? Maybe I shouldn’t have done boot camp yesterday. Hmmm, I can barely move my arms and there is some weird pain in my rear. Why did I do that interval run on the treadmill after boot camp? Oh right, because I was just expecting to jog today. Oh, and the half a pizza that I devoured (along with the greasy breadsticks) and the glass of wine (which tends to give me headaches no matter how little I drink). Not to mention the dessert. I didn’t lay out my clothes and gear the night before as I always do in preparation for a race. I even ate something different from my usual waffles with peanut butter for breakfast. Not only that, but I drank coffee! I don’t drink coffee before any race… ever! But remember, I assumed I would just be JOGGING.
Screw it. I will still run fast. If I don’t do well then at least I can say that I wasn’t prepared to really race the thing. So, I stood there ready to rock and roll. Without my hat that I always wear, overheated in my below 40 pants, without a recent water intake, without a bathroom trip and without my music. Next thing I know, I was running. I was running as fast as my throbbing legs could go. Of course I started off too fast, but that was nothing new. I ran down a very steep hill and couldn’t help but wonder how I would get back up that hill during the last half of a mile. I figured that if I could just keep going at this speed then I would get it over with that much sooner… but I hadn’t even reached the first half mile yet.
Then came the turnaround (since it was an out and back). I saw a friend from my running group (one of the super fast ones). I was pretty close behind her. That was good sign. However, I knew that I would never catch up. When I looked behind me I saw the friend with the jogging stroller. Oh crap. I couldn’t let him catch up to me… not with a jogging stroller! That motivated me to keep pushing as hard as I possibly could. I was finally there… at the bottom of the hill. I just thought about those stupid hills that surround our neighborhood. I climb up and down those hills at least twice a week. This should be cake in comparison. I was pleased to pass a few more people as I clambered up the hill. And then it hit me. The wall. I know it doesn’t make any sense to hit a wall in a 5K, but it sure as heck felt very similar to that wall at mile 20. I couldn’t even force myself to go faster. I was worried that the people I had just passed would pass me now. But I didn’t let that happen. I used all of the strength that I had. Even if it made me feel light-headed and nauseous. I just knew it would be over soon. Then I realized that I couldn’t feel my hands. They were frozen. How did that happen? The rest of my body was on fire, but my hands were ice? I must have looked like I would collapse when I finally crossed that finish line.
And wouldn’t you know it, I made second place in my age group! Yes, second to my friend from the running group. Don’t worry about my competitive spirit. I am excited to run with her more because she will totally kick my butt and help me to run even faster! And wouldn’t you also know it, I also had fun! I know it totally sounds crazy, but kicking my own butt is actually fun for me! Okay, maybe not in-the-moment fun, but the fun that comes after you realize what you just did!
The holiday ended on a good note. We enjoyed our first tofurkey and apple meringue pie before settling down to a family movie. My oldest daughter still has plenty of activities to explore. Maybe she will be an artist, or a musician or a gymnast. Whatever she chooses will be fine by me. Not very many people choose running as a hobby. Actually, I believe that running kind of chooses you.