Thanksgiving, for many, is about getting together with family and friends and sharing a big meal. Phil and I are lucky because we get to do that twice in one day with my family in the afternoon and Phil’s in the evening. Over the past several years, I have found that the perfect way to start Thanksgiving Day is with the BRC Turkey Trot. As I drove home this morning I couldn’t help but smile, I mean really smile with genuine happiness and thankfulness in my heart. And I couldn’t get home fast enough to start writing this all down. My best thoughts come right after a nice run.
I am so thankful for the family I grew up with, the family I married into, all my friends in the Bradenton Runners Club and our community, the many athletes I have had the privilege to coach and their wonderfully supportive parents. Gary Algozzine and the Bradenton Runners Club provide us with a unique opportunity on Thanksgiving morning to get together, share a run, and enjoy the giant “family reunion” before heading our separate ways later in the day. This is the one day of the year when I get to see so many familiar faces – current runners that I coach, athletes I have coached years ago, parents of current and former runners, new friends, old friends, BRC board members, and the many wonderful volunteers out on the course. I don’t think any of us can name one other day of the year when we all get together like this. Today is a day to cherish.
I have been dealing with some foot pain the past few weeks. In fact, I have not run since November 9th. I had to switch to biking and weight training to give my foot a rest. This past Tuesday night’s four miles was my first run in several weeks. It felt great to be running again. Unfortunately, not pain free, but that’s another story. For my second run back, this morning I decided to run the Turkey Trot 5 Miler with Di. For those of you who do not know her, Di is also known as Diana Nelson. She is a three sport varsity athlete at Manatee High – cross country, basketball, and track. When Joe Siever asked me how fast I was going to run today, I said “maybe 8 minute miles?” I wasn’t too concerned with pace as we set out comfortably, chatting most of the way. By half way we were at approximately 8:20 pace per mile (I wear a Garmin so that’s very easy to check). Those of you who know me will probably get a little chuckle out of this, but I was fighting my urge to pick up the pace as we passed the water stop and headed for the turn around. I kept telling myself that today was not about me, it was about running with Di, enjoying her company and conversation, and saying “hello” to every person I knew. I have to say that I did enjoy that. I am still smiling thinking about it. The out and back course was great so I could see all those familiar faces on the way out and the way back. I suggested to Di that we pick up the pace on the way back once we went by the water stop. So, she did just that and ended up passing many people on the way back and running negative splits. This is a difficult concept for many young runners – holding back, running comfortably the first part of the race and then running the second half of the race faster. But Di ran a text book negative split race today and felt good finishing fast. I felt great helping her to achieve this. Wow, racing isn’t always all about me. I have been running for 23 years and I can still learn too! I think that’s why I love running so much. I can still learn and experience new things as my own training and racing go through different stages. For me, coaching is the ultimate expression of that love of running when I can watch and help my athletes have those great experiences. By the way, we ended up with finishing with an average pace of 8:02 today, so it was a very successful 5 miles.
So to everyone at the Turkey Trot this morning who I smiled at, greeted, hugged, chatted with, saw in passing, ran with; and to all the volunteers – I am thankful for you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.