Thanks, But I’ve Gotta Run
For many of us, today is filled with family and food. For some of us that means too much food and – well – too much family. Over the years I’ve had Thanksgiving in lots of places with lots of people. In my lifetime I’ve had great meals and modest meals, but, what has changed since I’ve become a runner is that as often as not Thanksgiving has meant running with friends.
One Thanksgiving that stands out was one of the coldest days I’ve ever set foot outside to run. It was the Vertel’s Turkey Trot along the lakefront in Chicago. This was 10 or more years ago now but the memory is still vivid. I was pretty inexperienced as a runner and the cold – below freezing cold – had me dressing like I was going to sit in the stands at a football game. I had on tights, of course, and I was also wearing a heavy fleece jacket, wool watch cap, and ski gloves. About a mile into the race I realized my mistake. Fortunately the course looped back by the parking lot and I was able to drop about half what I was wearing.
Another cold year I stood in the warmth of a friends apartment watching a crowd of 5000 or so gather for the same race. With just minutes to spare a group of us ran to the start, ran the 8K, and ran back to the apartment where we treated ourselves to a gourmet breakfast.
Several years I was in Florence, Italy for the marathon and half marathon on Thanksgiving weekend. The Italians don’t have Thanksgiving but there were some extraordinary meals. I didn’t have any turkey, but I can tell you that a big plate of spaghetti carbonara is a pretty good substitute.
Last year Jenny and I ran a small, local, Turkey Trot in the south suburbs near the new house. There might have been 150 in the race. Spending so many weekends at events with 30,000 or so runners it was a very different experience to actually be able to count the runners at the start. It was a mixed bag of men, women, and children all celebrating the day with a run. There were no elites. No press truck. No photographers at the finish. Just a small group of people who were sharing a common experience on Thanksgiving morning. It was special.
I’ve also run alone on Thanksgiving morning. There have been times in my life when the only constant in my life was my running. On those Thanksgiving mornings knowing that even though I was running alone I was running with 10’s of thousands of runners somewhere was enough to help me keep my sanity.
To be honest, not every Thanksgiving morning has started with a run. Today won’t. But I know that many of you are out there running this morning and I wish I was with you. No matter how great today is it would have been better if it had started with a run.