It’s that time of year: time for the annual Thanksgiving family melee. Each year around this time approximately 30 adults, 4 small dogs, 2 grandmas from opposing forces and 1 small child all gather to give thanks to all that is good in the world: food, family, and booze.
And the year that the Czech’s joined us, it was a lot of booze, like something straight out of the Von Trapp family does Vegas (very drunk) with Czechoslovakian subtitles.
Thanksgiving Eve, Chris and I spent 50 minutes in the pool. We called it an off season special: floating with foam noodles. When I realized that Chris was sitting on two foam noodles and clutching two more I realized we had been in the 90-degree therapy pool for a wee bit too long. How about 50 minutes of floating? That counts as a workout, right? And believe me, we worked out. In fact, we can turn anything into a race. Sculling across the pool while seated on foam noodle. How fast can you pull the other person across the pool by legs only. Somewhere between these anaerobic efforts we managed to talk a little Thanksgiving. To get ready for the day ahead.
Prepare to arrive at 4 pm and eat dinner by 7pm.
You call it starvation, they call it strategy. It is family tradition that you literally starve the guest so they eat so much food there are no leftovers. Except, except I may add, the pie. Because who in their right mind wants to eat pie at 9 pm? No one. So that leaves about 3 pies mostly in tact for leftovers.
And it is holiday fact that you can eat pie for breakfast. Or in the case of my husband you can consume an 18-inch pumpkin pie within 3 days by eating a slice for all 3 meals.
Next we went through who was responsible for what food-wise. Cranberries? Chris. Sweet potatoes? Megan. Deviled eggs? Meredith (I don’t eat them but I hear her eggs are to die for – read into that what you’d like). Stuffing? Tom. Turkey? Tom but we are keeping a close eye on him. Stuffed mushrooms? Janet. Canned cranberries? Denise. Macaroni salad?
Yes, my grandma made a big bowl of macaroni salad.
Turns out that the Chinese grandma got her American holidays a little mixed up. And thus we have something from the picnic food category rather than something from the bountiful feast category. Macaroni salad, a staple of Fourth of July, is making a guest appearance at Thanksgiving this year.
And I will pull my seat up to the front row when someone tells her she got her holidays wrong.
Boss is getting a head start this year. Earlier Chris went over to move some furniture around and brought Boss along. When it was time to leave, Boss chose to stay. He’s been tapering for this event all day. Didn’t get up more than twice. He could sense the big day was coming and probably also heard rumors from the other dogs that the seasonal menu for Thanksgiving includes turkey, kibble, pumpkin and broccoli.
And if he sticks around until Friday my guess is that it will also contain macaroni salad.
Chris tells me he is responsible for corn pudding. He actually makes a mean corn pudding. I don’t usually eat corn (what is it? It’s not a vegetable, it’s not a dessert so what is it and why should I eat it?) and the word pudding frightens me but this corn pudding is actually quite good. I was looking forward to eating it until I got home and read the ingredients on the Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix box. And noticed that not one but TWO of the ingredients contained the word: LARD.
Exactly what is hydrogenated lard….?
But Thanksgiving isn’t just all about food and lard. It’s about running. And, drinking. And if you’re crazy enough, combining the two. I’ve been getting some calls, emails and other threats about Turkey Trots. It was bad enough that I got called out to the Beer Mile and had to pull a DNS for a reason not specified at this time. When The Bus called to tell me that he was ready to race me 3.1 miles on Thanksgiving I told him he wins by default. I’m not turkey trotting. The other day someone asked if I was doing the Wild Turkey Trot – that’s drink a beer, run a mile, repeat 4x. No, not this year.
This time of year – Thanksgiving, Turkey Trots – reminds me of my beginning in the sport. I might not be turkey trotting this year but 11 years ago I did and that’s where it all started.
I was living in Naperville with my parents. I was 23 years old. In town there was a local Turkey Trot. Back then it was a small race with only 326 finishers. Today it has grown to over 6,000 participants. For whatever reason, I decided I want to race. I do not remember what sparked the interest – perhaps it was burning calories because back then that was the only reason why I worked out – perhaps a spark set a fire for competing that hadn’t burned for years.
The night before, as in around 7 pm, to prepare myself I ran 7 miles around the indoor track at the gym. I remember my mom was walking laps and I was running. If I can run 7 miles, I can run a 5K, right? It was the world’s most ignorant training plan. But it was something, and gave me the illusion of preparation which at times is all an athlete needs to do well.
I remember signing up on race morning, pinning the number to my shirt and waiting until the mayor fired a gun to signify the start of the race. I have no idea how it felt or what I was thinking. I just remember I crossed the line….
And at that moment, something clicked.
That click resonated in my mind for a few months. Until March of the next year to be exact. When I read about a local women’s triathlon also in my home town. It sounded like a good idea. And if I can do a 5K, what’s a little 750 meter swim and 22K bike before it? I was bold, like most young 20-somethings, thinking I could do anything I put my mind too without regret, without thinking what would others think or how would I do or….without overthinking it. I just did.
From there I did a lot of things. I have a giant scrapbook of race numbers, results and pictures signifying over 10 years in a sport that I have done – to some extent – over done. Since that first 5K, I have taken over 3 minutes off that first 5K time. It only took me 7 years to do that. Patience pays off. Progress takes time. I have no better proof when I say that to my athletes than myself.
For Thanksgiving this year, aside from the many things in life that we are grateful for – health, family, opportunity….I am grateful for that click. Whatever set it off, whatever made me sign up for that 5K it opened a door to what I now call my life. A husband, a business, thousands of miles of memories across the world doing the things I love with people I love too. When I reflect back on the 11 years that have since passed, I realize that those 3.1 miles were perhaps a few of the most important miles I’ve covered in my life.
I am grateful for that!