Active Holidays

Holidays are an interesting thing. Traditions differ from family to family. For my family, it’s all about just hanging around enjoying each other’s company while eating mass amounts of food and drinking good wine. Most of Thanksgiving Day is spent watching football and grazing on various finger foods while we anticipate the main event.

Josh’s family is a bit different. It’s still all about spending time with each other, but it is much less about the food. The food of course is delicious, but the entire day isn’t spent eating or talking about the food that is to come. While football may be watched for a short period, it’s more likely that there is a football game going on outside. It’s no wonder Josh gets so antsy when he’s with my family for the holidays.

Over the past few years we’ve tried to start a new tradition. An active tradition. When we are in Colorado for Thanksgiving, we join 10,000 other runners and walkers to do the United Way Mile High Turkey Trot. The 4 mile race takes us around and through Wash Park. It’s a great race that always includes at least one person in a full turkey costume.

We had perfect running weather on Turkey Day. Though I had to wear a sweatshirt while we were standing around waiting for the race to start, I was the perfect temperature in my running skirt and tank top. Josh agreed to take one for the team and run with Ella so that I could see just what I could do at a shorter distance race.

Don’t worry, I didn’t really give her a Hershey bar in the morning. She found that wrapper on the ground and would not give up without a fight. As any good mother would do, I let her chew on it in order to avoid an unnecessary temper tantrum.

I lined up at the starting line with my little sister Audrey, who has become quite the runner, and my cousin Grace. Audrey just finished her first season of cross-country where she set a 5k PR of 21:30-something. Yeah, little speed demon she is. 

The start was a bit of a mess but we were off and we quickly all lost each other. I did a little bit of weaving to get around a family wearing turkey hats and settled into a good pace. I was surprised when I looked down at the first mile marker and saw that I had completed it in 7:50.

I made the second turn and focused on working my tangents. That is a big lesson I learned at the marathon, take the shortest distance possible. I hugged my next turn just as tight and completed my 2nd mile in 8:01. My lungs were starting to burn just a little bit when we turned into the park passed the 2.5 mile marker.

I resisted the urge to take a quick walk break when I passed the third mile marker. 8:05. One more mile, I was on my way to running under 32 minutes which was my mental goal. I didn’t want to say it out loud for fear that I was not even come close and be upset with myself. Around mile 3.5 I saw my sister. I was just a touch behind her. I thought of calling out her name and running to catch up with her, but she looked so focused, so I let it be.

About a tenth of a mile before the finish line someone was nice enough to smoke a cigar. After a slight cough attack caused by the smoke, I tried to pick it up enough to sprint to the end. Final mile: 8:01.

Distance: 4 miles (on the dot)    Time: 31:58 mins     Avg. Pace: 7:59.5 min/miles (so it’s like 8, but not quite)

I found Audrey as I walked down the shoot. She did awesome, finishing in 31:35. As we waited for the others to finish, we talked about maybe doing a half together in a few years when she’s old enough.

We met up with the rest of the group, including Josh who toughed out weaving through the crowds with a flat tire and sleeping Ella to finish in 35 minutes.

It felt good to sweat before the feasting began. I didn’t even feel guilty after slivers of apple and pumpkin pie and a bit of Ella’s mini bunt cake.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

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