What will any of us leave behind, beside a trail of debris and greenhouse gasses? Can we each put a little positive nudge into the world? Thanksgiving morning made it seem that way. It would appear I’ve contributed to the infection my family, and happily, not with H1N1.
Ah, Thanksgiving, that uniquely American tradition where families battle traffic to gather around a meal that, as sis put it, takes a day to prepare and twenty minutes to destroy. Never mind that it’s made up almost entirely of things that weren’t at the legendary (and some would say mythical) first Thanksgiving feast. Just another excuse to fatten America.
Unless you’re a runner, in which case it means that if you can’t find a race that morning, you’re downright depressed. The Thanksgiving Day race is another uniquely American tradition designed to alleviate the guilt of what you’re about to do to yourself at the table in a few hours. It’s the next best thing to going to confession, and you don’t have to remember the script. Bless me Father, for I am about to eat too much, I will therefore insert 5 miles between me and that upcoming meal.
We’ve developed a culture of haves and have nots. The haves can’t live without their caloric pre-burn, the have nots wouldn’t think of such a ridiculous thing to do on a holiday, especially when the weather is usually pretty rough. Or perhaps I’ve got it backwards. The haves eat it and keep it and have it, the have nots burn it off. Whatever.
When you’re the runner in the family of non-runners, you try to find a way to sneak out on this family-centric day to get to your race. You’re leaving all that family behind on that day when you’re all supposed to be together. It’s a perpetual guilt game. Did I mention guilt again? And confession? Yes, I’m Catholic, I can’t help it, it’s genetic.
There is another way. Infect your family. Give them the bug. Make them itch.
Now, I don’t claim full credit for what happened last week, but I can’t deny some influence. I’ve already mentioned that niece Kris has taken up our mental illness. We ran the Boilermaker this summer, and she’s rumbling about doing a half marathon. Her siblings have stepped out for a few here and there. My daughters have put in a few miles on the school cross country team. My wife even admits to jogging a few miles when few were looking. Finally, sis has been walking, and has hinted at picking up the pace if her knee would behave. And in fact, out Thanksgiving outing was in fact her suggestion. The ultimate test of infection! I wasn’t the pusher, she was!
What a formula! Rather than wallow in calories all day, eight of us piled into two cars and headed for downtown Corning, New York on Thanksgiving day for the annual Pie & Glove 5K, a very casual race where everyone gets a pair of the finest gloves – you know, the kind that it doesn’t matter if they’re left or right, they’re all the same – and the prizes are, well, as the name implies, more calories. At five bucks a head, it’s easy to bring the whole family. As we pulled away from sis’s house in the chase car, it struck me how utterly cool this was. Almost our entire family was off to the race, and not just to watch. Infection accomplished. Healthy obsession planted. Seeing everyone with numbers pinned to their shirts was simply way cool.
The race? Plenty of fun. Iffy weather turned into fine weather. Once again, I overdressed. Seems taking last winter off for the surgery completely trashed my ability to accurately dress for these things (me, overdressed, in blue and tights on the left in this picture). I’ve got to work on that. The turnout of 800 somewhat overwhelmed the organizers. It appears we’re not the only family shifting to a healthy outing on T-Day. It’s all good.
My race was mediocre, a couple seconds over 19 minutes, but after taking the equivalent of a few weeks off for that pesky leg injury, I had no complaints, and that injury was nowhere to be felt. Sometimes a good race is what you need to shake the bolts loose and move on. The rest of the clan? Well, performance-wise we would have taken no team trophies, not that there were any. Nor did we win any pies, not that we needed any with three waiting for us back home. Nephew Brian ran a respectable race. The rest, moving in clumps, did a little walking, a little jogging, a little more walking, a little more walking. Since one niece was working on about three hours of sleep, the clumps tended to slow – hey, it’s Thanksgiving, you’re home from college, you’ve got limited time to see your friends, so you don’t sleep much, and you don’t exactly feel your best the next day. OK, I was young once too. But she covered the distance. And even sis with the bum knee gutted it out.
After then we all went back to Alice’s and had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat and we didn’t even have to pick up the garbage. (No, sis isn’t named Alice, that just seemed to be the right thing to say.) And we only put on four pounds that day, rather than the usual five.