Turkey Trotting and Giving Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving.  I am curled up on my couch under a blanket with my laptop as my Starbucks sits nearby on the appropriately named coffee table.  By all standard definitions of this day, it does not seem to fit the traditional descriptions.  There is nothing cooking in my kitchen.  I don’t have any ingredients to make the usual Turkey day fare, not even a pumpkin pie.  My house is quiet except for a rerun of an old Friends episode on the TV for background noise.  My kids are having Thanksgiving with their dad this year.  My mom is in Florida, my sister in Georgia, my brother and his family in California, while I am “home” in the Lou.  I’m not watching football or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I’d like to think that if someone was here we might go outside and throw a football around at some point, but I’m not even sure where the boys left the football.

All that said, to me, it still feels like Thanksgiving, in some weird way.

I got up early this morning and put on my running clothes. I pinned a bib to my red FLEET FEET singlet and joined 4,000 others at the Chesterfield amphitheater in the bitter cold to run the annual Turkey Trot.  Kristen found me as I wandered in a daze toward the Start.  The timing truck was stationed at the Finish line and I planned to leave my coat in the truck so that I would have it right when I got done.  As Kristen and I jogged from Start to Finish, I waved to several friends along the way.  I stashed my coat and we walked back toward the start with FLEET FEET Race Timing Manager, Jake.  Jake’s wife Lauren just had their second child 2 days ago, so they have much to be thankful for today.  Jake was especially thankful at the “timely” arrival of his son (see what I did there?)  which allowed him to still be available for today’s event which is one of the biggest races on his yearly docket.  Well done, Baby Goldsborough.

A few minutes later, Kristen and I ran into Marxkors who was stripping down to her race gear.  She was clearly feeling more ready for the 3.1 miles of pain than I was.  The hacky cough thing that came on a couple days ago in combination with the 20 degree temperature didn’t have me thinking that today would go so well.  But I was there and I was going to do it anyway because I’m a runner and that’s what we do.

Kristen and I made our way to the front of the crowd at the start line where Ron grabbed me for a big Thanksgiving hug.  Then we pushed our way into the herd, somewhere between the guys in the front wearing tiny split shorts and all the people wearing turkeys on their heads, just before the race got underway.  I’m pretty sure Kristen’s only goal was beating the guy in the banana suit.

The gun went off, the race started and we ran.  The great part about a 5k is it’s only 3.1 miles.  The sucky part about a 5k is because it’s only 3.1 miles, you run a lot faster than endurance pace.  My body doesn’t like to run fast.  Especially when it’s really cold out.  And I’m sick.  And I potentially may have stayed out too late with friends last night.  But, it was worth it.

Sheila and Kelly passed me early in the race. Nick poked me in the side as he ran by with a big smile. I waved to Andy on his way back of the out and back.  I yelled to Marxkors as she passed too.  Just under 24 minutes later, I crossed the finish line after seeing several familiar faces along the course.  Kristen had finished just a few steps behind me with a PR.  That’s good, I’m glad one of us had a decent race.  My time was over a minute slower than the last time I ran that course two years ago.  Oh well, it was a good start to the day, and actually it got even better.

As we headed for the post race refreshments, I saw Flavia and Nick.  As we stood talking, Kaitlyn walked up and asked me to tie her shoe since she couldn’t feel her fingers.  Tony and his son Elliot showed up in their Elvis costumes and Elliot immediately began disrobing.  Faith and her daughter Kylee came by with hugs.  I saw another Kristen and said a quick hello.  We all split off and I went to get my coat from the timing truck.  Jake was busy scrolling results on a laptop inside the truck but I whispered Happy Thanksgiving to him anyway.  I talked to fellow Fleet Feet-ers Chris and Tim for a few minutes.  Tim’s wife Lisa was the overall winner for the women, with Maxkors taking second.  That’s a good day.  I grabbed a banana and a water and went to check the results monitors.  They were scrolling alphabetically at H.  Being a “J”, I knew I didn’t have to wait long.  I was the 60-something female finisher, number 18 of women 30-39.  Pretty respectable considering the circumstances.

As I was about to head out, I saw one of the other Maxkors siblings…Alicia.  She was with one of my social running Steve’s.  We talked for a few, did hugs and said happy Thanksgiving.  As I walked away I saw Kelly; Sheila joined us after she gave up on waiting for her name on the results.  Then, Lisa and Marxkors.  How cool did I feel standing there with the top two women?  I have some very fast friends.

Then I walked back to the car.  After I got the heat going, I pulled out my phone and started fielding texts from so many friends.  My mom had tried to call, I called her back but left a message.  I sent a text to my baby girl and asked her to give hugs to her brothers for me.

I drove over to Starbucks to get my well earned coffee.  Funny that I ran into Alicia and Steve as soon as I walked in.  I laughed as I said that I was just going to follow them around all day.  Alicia joked that if I wanted to come over for Thanksgiving I should just say so.  I responded saying if I was going to be alone, the Marxkors would likely have been the first people I would have called to invite myself over.  And I know I really could have done that.  Not just with the Marxkors, but with several others.

And that’s when it really hit me.  Even in being “alone” today, I’m not really alone.  I started the day off with so many hugs from friends in the running community that I am so fond of.  And the texts I’ve received remind me that even if I choose to be alone for part of the day, I am not forgotten, I am loved and I am blessed.

So while outwardly, today may look like any other day, it still feels like Thanksgiving in my heart, just like every other day.  I am so thankful for my awesome kiddos who are celebrating with their other family just down the road.  I am thankful that they are healthy and happy.  I am thankful for knowing that I can count on my family, even when they are far away.  I am thankful for my friends, near and far, who love me in spite of myself.  And I am thankful that 12 years ago on a random Wednesday night I called my parent’s home phone just to say hi.  Typically my dad would pass the phone off to my mom, but that night he didn’t.  He stayed on the phone with me for several minutes talking about nothing of consequence and the last conversation I ever had with my dad ended like this…

Dad: Bye now.

RRG: Bye Dad.

Dad: Love you.

RRG: Love you too…

Then we hung up.  Those were the last words I ever heard him say.  We should all be so blessed.

Where ever you are today, make sure your loved ones, family, and friends that are like family, know that you give thanks for each one of them.  I am thankful for each one of you.  Happy Thanksgiving.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get out of my hoodie and running tights and get ready to go to dinner with a couple of my kickass friends who refuse to let me have Thanksgiving dinner alone.

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