Thanksgiving is a day to think about your blessings, do a little extra running, get some fresh air, and enjoy a feast.
So let’s get busy!
On this day, I’m grateful for another year of good health, of spending lots of time with two energetic boys and a wonderful wife, and of having a job despite a lousy economy.
And naturally, I am grateful for the simple pleasures of life, such as trails and running.
That’s a real shocker, right?
This morning, I was in the mood for a race. It’s been about nearly a month since I’ve pinned on a number and pushed myself through a course. So I was overdue.
I couldn’t find a trail race, so I did the next best thing.
I found a road race. And then, later in the day, I went hiking with the family on trails.
Yep, it was double the fun. And on this day of blessings, I was grateful for two helpings of outdoor activity.
The race was the Drumstick Dash, a 4.5-mile race through Broad Ripple, an artsy, eclectic neighorhood on the north side of Indy.
I’ve never run this race before — usually because I go to Ohio to see family on Thanksgiving. So this was a novelty.
And on that score, I knew I would set a PR — two, in fact. First, as I’ve said, I’ve never run the Drumstick Dash, so even if I finished dead last, I would set a PR for this race.
And second, I’ve never raced this unusual distance before. So no matter how slow I was, I would set a PR for the distance.
But finishing dead last wasn’t likely. This is a community race that attracts thousands of people. Only a small fraction of them are hardcore runners. Most of them, I think, are weekend joggers and even walkers.
The starting line of the race looked like a marathon, with pace groups and signs for various speeds, from 6-minute miles to 15-minute miles.
I bought a race number, then pushed myself through the mob and lined up with the 7:00 minute pace group. As this was a Thanksgiving run, many runners were dressed as turkeys or Indians or pilgrims or something goofy. The race mascot was a giant turkey.
We were greeted over a loudspeaker by the race organizer, and then by the mayor of Indy and then by a chaplain who asked us to pray to “our heavenly Lord in Jesus’ name.” It struck me as weird for a secular event. But then again, this is Indiana, the Bible belt of the Midwest.
Finally, the countdown started, the horn blew, and we took off.
It took me nearly 30 seconds to cross the starting mat. But this was OK, since I had a chip. After that, I spent the first half-mile trying to pass slow, clueless runners who had lined up ahead of me, despite their slowpoke pace of 10 or 11 minutes a mile. Some of them were pushing strollers.
The course started down a wide, main street for a half-mile. Then it turned onto a narrow sidestreet. The running got a little congested, as thousands of runners tried to squeeze down narrow streets, with cars parked on both sides.
I felt boxed in a few times. I felt a little sorry for the people in the back of the pack. I don’t think they could ever get a steady pace going.
We ran along sidestreets and busy streets that I’ve driven hundreds of times. It was cool to see them from a different perspective.
I finished in 32:43, for an average pace of 7:16. Later, I look at the race results and saw I had finished 474th out of 3,833 timed finishers (lots of walkers and slow runners didn’t wear timing chips). That put me in the top 13 percent.
And of course, I got my PR. Yes, I got it the cheap way, but I’ll take it.
I came home, fully endorphined. I had breakfast and cleaned up. Then the whole family hopped in the car and drove an hour south to Brown
County State Park, one of the hilliest and most scenic state parks in Indiana.
We hiked two short but hilly trails in a light rain, getting in at least four miles. The boys also enjoyed climbing to the top of a fire lookout tower, about 200 feet high, three or four times.
Then we came home, heated up a full Thanksgiving dinner that Mrs. Trail Boy had cooked yesterday, gave thanks, and dug in, with hearty appetites.
It was Trail Boy’s kind of Thanksgiving.
Blessings upon our house. And yours.