A few years ago I spent Thanksgiving at “The Biggest Loser“ Ranch. Besides eating mashed cauliflower in lieu of potatoes and sweet potatoes with cinnamon instead of pumpkin pie, we also participated in a mandatory 5K. I have been jonesing to get that tradition started at home ever since. I have had good intentions and one year suggested to my family that we all do a 5K down our country road before dinner was served. No one was too inclined in the morning and after the food, naps and football were being enjoyed, so the 5K went un-ran.
The next year I was living with my boyfriend at the time and we spent the morning at a friend’s home where they all played football after a hearty brunch. I wanted to play too, but my boyfriend’s raised eyebrows and evasive sentences of, “Oh yeah … um, that would probably be fine … except girls don’t really play …” put me off. Normally I am more feisty than that and would’ve insisted I get play time too, but they were family friends I had yet to meet, and I really am quite bad at sports, so I didn’t want everyone’s first impression of me to be my ruining their Thanksgiving football fun.
That year I spent the morning sipping mimosas and cheering from the sidelines where my boyfriend was clearly the football star. The rest of the day passed in a blur.
This year I decided I was doing a 5K. I wanted to start my day with a calorie burn. I asked my sister and a friend to accompany me. Another friend wanted in and she suggested the Detroit Turkey Trot, as my home is Michigan.
When my alarm sounded at 6 am Thanksgiving day, however, I was less than thrilled with my wanting to start a 5K tradition on a day I normally reserved for sleeping late, watching the parade and baking a chocolate pie, only to stuff my face with turkey for hours and then nap. I perked up once I had some coffee in me, and once we cruised into Detroit to see all the hustle and bustle of parade race day.
Despite starting out the morning a little frazzled, running a little late and nervous that I would never find parking, much less parking that didn’t cost me my first born, we parked and met our friend who was waiting with our race packets. We pinned on our bibs, all of us with different colors to indicate our running abilities. I was white which I knew was the slowest you could be aside from walkers. Every one of us had a different color.
My sister, Kirstie, zipped off in no time, leaving us in her wake. Amanda kept inching ahead, while after the first mile (maybe less) I started to lose my pre-race pep. I could feel my legs wanting to slow their pace. Ryan was insistent on staying at my side, however, which made me feel bad as it was clearly far below his abilities. After a curve in the road and a swell of people overtook me, I saw Amanda and Ryan speeding up and I happily settled into my tortoise pace. Until I could see that Ryan kept looking over his shoulder and slowing down to find me.
Well, I guess I can’t sludge through this race, I thought as I mustered up my energy and will to start running faster in order to keep up with him. By this point Amanda had run off ahead as well. I kept up a brisk pace the whole way. I knew pushing myself at a faster clip was probably his slowest jog. By the time we were on our last mile I was desperate for the race to end. It’s tough when you’re keeping yourself going at an 11-minute mile.
When we crossed the finish line, however, with our time being 35:51 (two minutes shaved off of my last 5K) I was pretty glad the guy had stuck around. Though he was just being a solid chap and friend by sticking by my side the entire race, he had unintentionally made me push myself harder. And the best part was, all this time I had it in me to get back down to an 11-minute mile, I just needed the proper motivation.
We arrived home ready to take on Thanksgiving. I was no less stuffed than any other Thanksgiving as I couldn’t stop myself from getting just one more roll … several times … but I was full of an all-day endorphin high on top of the fact that I finally started my 5K Thanksgiving Day tradition. Now to really commit myself to staying at an 11-minute mile. I went running a few days later and the wind was brisk and my legs were sluggish. I was back at an appalling 13-minute clip. I guess the answer is clear here, I have to kidnap Ryan.