I love Thanksgiving races. Not just because they help you earn your pie, but because of the atmosphere, the people and the challenge. On a day of gratitude you come together and participate in something you all love and enjoy.
Okay, I lied. I run for the pie.
Yesterday was my third time running the Thankful 13 Half Marathon and let me tell you … I didn’t feel guilty ONCE OUNCE eating my Thanksgiving dinner. Sure, I watched my portions and seconds. But, I didn’t feel bad eating seconds of the green beans, corn and maybe a little stuffing (had to recarb, right?).
Oh, yeah and the pie.
But, you don’t get that guilt-free feeling by just running a 5K or 10K it’s gotta be a half marathon or longer. My first year of running I ran a 5K on Thanksgiving and looking back I didn’t earn my pie. I actually probably earned half a piece of pie. But, since I burn on average 2,000 calories running a half marathon I knew I’d be okay for the rest of the day with my meal and pie. And, I was. Anyways, enough of me trying to justify my food.
I really do love this race. It’s a nice little flat course with some rolling hills, but that’s about it. I ran it by myself in 2012, with Susette last year. This year I was supposed to pace it with a friend (more on this later) while I pushed Elsha. But to run with Elsha on Thanksgiving … it was fitting. If there is one friend this year that I am grateful for the most, it’s her. Ever since we became friends back in April we’ve bonded over our running obsession, U2, three-legged cats and burritos.
Pretty much instant friends.
Besides being an awesome friends, Elsha inspires me. Not to just be a better runner, but a better person. I don’t know anyone who has a better outlook towards life than Elsha. For someone who could easily and understandably focus on her own circumstances you RARELY if EVER find her focusing on herself. She is constantly wanting to do good for others. Whether she is raising money for her birthday to give to an orphanage in Africa or another assisted athlete that needs a runner, Elsha is simply amazing. I feel beyond blessed to have her consider me a friend.
So, the plan for the race was to pace the 2:40 group with my friend Tricia while pushing Elsha along the way. No problem. Usually no problem. But, while in the starting corral we got seprated because I couldn’t fit Elsha’s cart in the jam packed space. So Tricia told me that she needed to use the restroom and that we’d catch up. No problem. She had the pacing sign I shouldn’t have a problem spotting her. So, Elsha, myself and our friend Camille ran out a bit later once the crowd dispersed at a slightly faster pace so we could catch up to Tricia.
Welp, after a couple miles I got worried that we missed Tricia so we slowed down quite a bit. We even walked some to make sure if she was behind us that she could catch up. After a while, I kind of gave up and I was off pace and had ditched my partner that I did what I would usually do anyways. I turned around and starting talking with other runners. I talked to some first time half marathoners, we guessed the calories of our Thanksgiving dinners we were burning and fantasized about pies. Yes, fantasied about pies.
I knew that I wasn’t going to catch up with Tricia so I might as well make the most of it. So, I made a concerted effort along with Elsha and Camille to just be positive, have fun and share my love for running. The three of us had a great time together. This was the second time I ran a whole half with Camille and I am pretty sure she could have beat me handily being 22 weeks pregnant. She is amazing. I have a hard enough time running with a food baby, so I don’t know how women can run with actual real life babies in their stomach. Baffles me.
Camille and I switched pushing Elsha throughout the race and it was hilarious some of the comments that we got. A lot of people would ask Camille how old her baby was. Um, 31 … years old. We even stopped to get a picture in front of an inflatable turkey and a fellow runner to stop to take a picture of “our family.” We couldn’t correct her, we just went with it.
Elsha is so great and funny when these people say something. She just takes it in stride. When one lady commented about how well behaved our baby was, Elsha just replied with a “thank you!” It kind of surprised the lady. But, Elsha just goes with it and it’s another reason why I love her so much. We have similar senses of humor.
Though we were off our pace we still had a lot of fun and for as flat as the race is, there were some areas where it was simply gorgeous. Especially around the wetlands where there was an awesome view of Mt. Timpanogos. While the view was great … there were some areas that were a tad unpleasant … like every wetland it smelt bad. But, really, that’s the only complaint I’d have of the whole course.
Well that and I think they should have pumpkin pie at every aid station. But, I digress.
One thing I love about this race is that they encourage the runners to make a list of 13 things they are grateful for and then they print off a few of them and put them along the course. Last year they printed one I wrote about my mother and it’s touching, but it’s the worst display of English I’ve ever written. And, it was up once again this year.
But, there was one that I wrote about Elsha near the starting line. Naturally when we looped back I grabbed the sign and ran across the finish line with it in hand as Camille and her kids helped push Elsha. It was a neat moment. Really neat moment.
Ending my 2014 race schedule at the Thankful 13 really was perfect though. With it being the holiday that it was, it put me into a mood of gratitude much easier than usual. And, looking back at all my races and experiences this past year … I am just beyond grateful of the places I have gone, the people that I have met and the friendships that have been bonded. I don’t know of another community or hobby that could afford me to have such experiences? Running has given me so much back, when I feel like I haven’t put nearly enough into it for such a return.
But, here I am.
As I prepare for 2015, I look forward to see where I go and the people I will meet. And, next year at Thanksgiving as I reflect back on the year that was, I hope it will have been as wildly remarkable as 2014. There is just so much to be grateful for that words cannot suffice my feelings … so I’ll just end it here.
But … YEAH RUNNING!!! YEAH ELSHA!!! YEAH THANKSGIVING!!!