We were at the starting line with several thousand others, watching the Lima Lima flight team fly overhead, waiting for the starting horn. We'd just listened to the mayor welcome everyone, and now we were getting our final stretches in, trying to stay loose, at the starting line. This was all a familiar routine by now. It was the third straight year I lined up for the Dan Gibbons Turkey Trot, and the overcast skies and threat of snow did little to discourage what seemed like everyone who lives in Elmhurst from showing up. It is a huge community tradition, dating back more than a quarter century.
In the last few weeks I'd mentioned the race to several of my running friends, encouraging them to come out for it. A few did, while a few others opted for sleeping in to prepare for the feast later in the day. Most everyone asked about the race. I told them it is big. Certainly one of the biggest Turkey Trots in the Chicago area. I told them it is fun, and that it is a great community event. I did not tell them it is a great race.
But a great race on Thanksgiving is not really the point. We have the rest of the year for that. This was about running, family, and giving thanks. They raise a great deal of money for the Food Pantry every year at this run. That, of course is the most important part of the whole morning.
There are lots of races on Thanksgiving morning throughout the area. I've done several of them in the past, most notably, the Lincoln Park 8k. But it's nice to stay close to home on Thanksgiving, and now we are blessed with a chance to run just a couple miles away every Thanksgiving.
The part of the race I enjoyed the most this year was the family part. One of the reasons I do not consider this a great race is because there are lots of walkers, parents with young children, and even people with strollers usually lined up near the front. The first mile is normally a pretty difficult obstacle course with runners having to come to sudden stops and veering around some of the people in front of them.
All that would be pretty irritating if this was a normal race. But it's not. This is Thanksgiving, and it's really pretty heartwarming to see all the families running and walking together, starting the holiday together and getting a little exercise at the same time.
Our friends Tom and Rebecca brought their kids out from our old neighborhood in the city, so Tom could cruise through the course. He and the kids are pictured with another friend, John, who I ran with. We all had a nice, well-deserved, breakfast afterward. As for the race, John had no expectations, but came out for fun, hoping he might run a good time. I told him I'd try to help pace him to be under 22 minutes. We managed that, though I doubt he needed my help.
I also offered to help pace my wife, but she, as usual, declined. Good thing. I wouldn't have even know what pace to help her with. She is charting new ground every race she runs. Her last, the Hot Chocolate 5k a couple weeks ago, resulted in a P.R. by about a minute. On this day, she broke that P.R. by another minute a half! At most race we run, I usually have time to finish, get my bag from gear check, and then take a few pictures before welcoming to the finish line. Not anymore. Pretty soon she's gonna be the one waiting for me!
In any case, it was good to share that experience with her, and to see all the other family and friends sharing the day with each other. Our Turkey tasted even better later in the day from having run earlier. Hope yours was a happy Thanksgiving.
See you on the roads....