Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
Today I did something extremely foolish, and within just a few minutes I realized just how foolish it was. Here’s how it went down:
Several months ago, my wife, attempting to be healthy and inspirational, signed us up for a 5-mile turkey trot in St. Louis. That’s right, five miles, which sometimes seems like a long distance to drive, let alone run. My wife and I were going to run in this race together so that we could enjoy guilt free pumpkin pie and Jell-O salad. However, due to some circumstances beyond our control, she was not able to run, but I felt like I had no excuse and should go ahead and give it a shot, and one of us needed to go anyways to pick up our T-shirts.
My training for this race was a little bit abnormal compared to other races we had run. One day, about two weeks prior to the race, I ran half a mile, and then two days later I ran a mile, and that was it. As the race began, I quickly realized I may not have done enough to prepare for this race.
However, that was not the biggest mistake that I made on this beautiful sunny Thanksgiving morning. The real mistake was lining up in the starting chute with the 5- to 7-minute milers. I’m not sure what exactly went through my head to believe this was the right place to start, but I did run cross country in high school 23 years ago, so I had that going for me.
As the race began, I attempted to keep pace with the runners around me, and I was able to pull off a 7:40 first mile. Impressive, right? Wrong. That 7:40 first mile quickly turned into a 9:30 second mile in which I was passed by everybody and their grandmother. Literally. An elderly woman who must’ve been in her 80s passed me and gave me a look as if to say, “What are you doing up here, shrimp?!”
As the herd of racers in better shape than me raced past me, all of whom I’m sure completed more than 1.5 miles in their training, that’s when the humbling really began. A man pushing a stroller passed me, and then a woman pushing a stroller passed me, and and then another man, seeking only to one-up the first man pushing a stroller, passed me pushing a double stroller…while going up a hill. And finally, in the most embarrassing part of the race for me, I got passed by a guy running with his dog, pulling his other dog in a pull cart behind him…also going uphill. I knew at that moment this was going to be a long, humbling race for me.
And then, as I passed the 3-mile mark, I realized that my pace had leveled off, and I had a chance to break 45 minutes, which at that point seemed like a miracle considering the panting and wheezing that was going on. Even though I had 2 miles left, I felt that if I could just push myself a little bit, I could do it.
I started praying, asking God to give me the strength to finish strong, and to take away the throbbing pain in my thighs and calves. I prayed for a clear mind to focus on running the whole race, and for a clear nose, because up to that point I was blowing snot all over the place, just hoping I was missing everyone as they flew past me.
Well, no need to drag this story out any further than necessary. I was able to finish the race without walking, and I came in just above my goal at 46 minutes and 23 seconds, which is probably a PR for me considering the amount of training I did. And as I crossed the finish line, waiting for me was exactly what I needed as I struggled for a breath and felt every beat of my heart: A nice plump cinnamon roll and a bottle of water.
So what am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? At the moment, I’m thankful that I’m still alive after that fiasco of a race.
I’m thankful for my amazing wife, whom I don’t deserve, and for our two beautiful daughters who make me laugh every day, and for our incredible extended family.
I’m thankful for the wonderful people I get to call my friends.
I’m thankful for my job and the opportunity and the ability to work and provide for my family.
But most importantly, I’m thankful to be a child of God, the Creator of the universe and of all good things. I’m thankful for God the Father who holds all things on His mighty hand, and for Jesus who took on flesh and died on the cross for my sins so that I may be eternally forgiven, and for the Holy Spirit who works in us and through us to become more like Jesus.
And I’m thankful for you, the reader, and I pray that you are encouraged by these words and that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family today.