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James and I have very little family living near us in Salt Lake City. Besides us, there’s my son Tyler and his wife Anna living just a mile to our east. And then there’s my youngest daughter Mackenzie living a couple miles to our west. Tyler and Anna have 2 kids, Amelia and Eli. They call me Mugga. Amelia started that when she was only 2, and couldn’t quite say “grandma” correctly. Everyone besides me thought it was adorable, so they worked hard to make it stick. It has, and I’ve made my peace with it.
Anyway that’s it for family nearby. The next closest family would probably be my sister in northeastern Iowa, or maybe my parents in Minnesota.
So when it comes to holidays, the handful of us Utahns make sure we come together and do something unique to amuse ourselves. Take Christmas, for example, and our annual Food Fear Factor competition. James shops for bizarre foods at the Asian market, wraps them up, and we each have to draw. And eat. Since the items are all written in Chinese, we have no clue what we’re ingesting. Things like Grass Jelly. Candied Anchovies. Slimy Octopus Drinks. The winner wins something equally as stupid as the entire competition.
For Thanksgiving, we mark the day with our annual Thankgiving 5k.
If you’ve seen ANYTHING I’ve written this fall, this isn’t news to you. Back in September, I challenged our readers to try a Thanksgiving 5k with loved ones, and I’ve been writing tips, training plans, giving away swag, and mentioning it since then. After all the hype, I couldn’t NOT tell you how ours went, so here goes!
Here we are at the start with our chip timers on, and waiting for the start gun. The 12 o’clock shoe belongs to Amelia. James took her shopping back in September to pick them out so she’d have “speedy shoes” for the Turkey Trot. Little Eli is rocking the black with green. Son Tyler has the paint-splattered shoe…he’s constantly doing house projects. Here’s a crazy thought. Wear some crap shoes when you paint! James’ shoe isn’t here. Mr. Serious Pants was closer to the start line, planning to run for time (he finished with 23 minutes).
The chip timers started timing us the minute we crossed this start line:
And once we did, I didn’t see Anna and Eli again until the finish. I ran with Amelia, and son Tyler bounced between checking on us, and running back to check on Anna and Eli.
So I can’t really report on how their races went, or even James’ who was way ahead of us. All’s I can tell you about is how it went for me and my little running buddy:
The course is a hard one. It climbs steady for the first 1.5 miles. Amelia ran a nice steady pace at first, and things started well. It did help her motivation that we were chasing this chicken:
Yup. The chicken kept her interested for the first 10 minutes.
Amelia sort of ebbed and flowed with her motivation. Sometimes there’d be full on sprinting, sometimes there’d be turtle-paced walking, and sometimes there’d be “I never want to do this race AGAIN!” pouting. After that first bit of slow steady jogging like a pro, she never jogged steady again. So I worked for the sprints.
Things That Got Amelia to Sprint:
- Cops who would high-5 her at traffic corners.
- Homeowners along the route having parties and cheering runners on.
- When “Dude” (Amelia’s name for James) finished his race then ran back and joined us. Those 2 have a pretty special bond. She loves to please him.
And then when she spotted the finish line, this thing was over. She sprinted like I’ve never seen a 4 year old sprint! I could barely keep up, her super fast Uncle Tony (Anna’s brother visiting from Albuquerque who also jogged back to help with support crew duties) could barely keep up, and just look at that face on her! She saw that finish, heard the cheering, ripped off her hat, her speedy shoes pretty much lifting her off the ground and she flew towards the finish:
Look closely and you can spot Amelia flying to the finish behind the lady and her dog:
And when she came across the finish, the crowd cheered, we all told her wow-great-work-you’re-so-strong-and-amazing, you know what the first thing she said was?
“I can’t WAIT to do this again!”
And with that, she nailed the whole 5k experience right on the head. It’s really hard while you’re doing it, for anyone. You’ll have moments where you want to quit, moments where you find a little strength, moments where you want to sit down at the side of the road and cry (or throw up). But then you cross that finish line, and everything changes. Once you cross the finish line you immediately begin forgetting the bad parts. Instead you feel elation, relief, pride, strength…and like you’re unstoppable.
I’m incredibly thankful that I get to share this 5k tradition with my crew. Shared experiences, quality time, challenging each other…I wouldn’t have our crazy traditions any other way. I think about these 5k’s in the future and I marvel that someday Amelia and Eli will be able to outrun me.
But hopefully not too soon!
Hope y’all had happy and healthy Thanksgivings, too!