Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happily Thankful

They say it's not happy people who are thankful. It's thankful people who are happy. This is perhaps why there are no days, no holidays for sure that I'm more grateful for than Thanksgiving. A holiday which in my book if you're doing it right, you're looking at what you have and realizing life has been kind and smiling at least in some areas of life. It is perhaps because of this that somehow the universe has been nice enough to have it be the only holiday, the only day I've managed to get some time with Kiana every year. And every year it has a race which is an entirely for charity race called the Turkey Trot which for 5 races straight running has been the only race that has gotten better, one where you hear from people who you know you've only ever gotten to share some lovely moments in life.

It would be the first race I'd do after getting out of the hospital in 2010. I was still in pretty bad shape but I'd finish it smiling glad there was still a race left in me even with issues in my left temporal lobe. In 2011, it was the first time I'd ever do a race with a stroller because they were the ones who instilled the idea in me because it's such a family friendly event that it has many division including a stroller division! It also would be Kiana's first ever race that year because they have a kid's kilometer race. She would finish smiling and I'd take second in the stroller division. In 2012 and 2013, Kiana would run a little faster kids k and I'd win the division in the 5 miler.

Still, in 2014, it was my 4th race in November alone, the 2nd one with a stroller. The recent half with her had not been a PR and the up and downs had shown she's grown though she emphasized that she's not too big for the stroller over and over so it may be me who decides that.The course is also a hilly one for the first few miles. The competitive mode never quite turns off but even as I unloaded the stroller I knew I was both happy and thankful to get one more year of this tradition no matter what the results would be. And even better, it was the first time ever that the race had added a team division and I got to put together a team with the Ship of Fools,the group who had driven me to 3 of the 5 races.

I've always ran the kid's k next to her trying to get some pictures and this was the first year I barely got any shots because I was struggling simultaneously keeping up with her and running. She would run the fastest pace she's ever gone and when she saw a boy she knew from her school ahead of her, she ran up to say hi and then she passed him (here's hoping she always keeps this habit up of not chasing boys but rather passing them).

As we headed to the start of the only race Kiana has ever cared where we placed in (the 1st three spots get gift certificates to a local sponsor, Thundercloud Subs and she loves that we get to celebrate the win over a few meals over a few weeks), she said try to win but make sure you place. I said, we'll try but you gotta keep an eye out for strollers.

So the start was there and we were off again. This is by far the biggest race we've ever done with a stroller with roughly 20,000 people.  We got on the outside edge trying to find our pace among the crowd. Kiana pointed out someone running in a stroller ahead of us where someone was running with a full turkey costume on while pushing. There were all kinds of great costumes and they made both Kiana and I smile for that first mile.

Shortly after the first mile was the first turn and Kiana said there's no strollers in front of you but there's one that's catching up with you. Less than a quarter mile later, a guy with a double stroller, A DOUBLE stroller was right next to us. A few seconds later, Kiana said, "Daddy he just passed you." I'm like "Thanks Kiana, I can see that." He would be gaining on us and getting further away with both of us still passing non stroller runners. Somewhere, I just tried to keep up with him with miles 1 being at a 6:06 pace, mile 2 at a 6:13 pace, and mile three at a 5:36 pace, I was still behind him but somehow we passed him somewhere between mile 3 and 4 which was at a 5:30 pace but he was literally immediately behind us. We kept it on and when I looked down at my watch at the finale, we'd average a 29.09, literally our fastest 5 miler ever, my fastest 5 miler ever including college days and the Turkey Trot becoming the only distance I'd ever run faster with than without Kiana. At the finish, I sat and talked with friends and made a new one of the guy who'd run right behind us. It was his first race with a stroller and he said he hadn't realized how hard it would be but we both appreciated how much we'd "pushed" the other even while pushing our children because may I remind you he had a double stroller.

As we sat and waited for official results, we'd take in some of the festivities, some of the scenery, some of the kids arts and crafts and a few of the cookies because obviously the calories are irrelevant after a run like that. It would turn out several people from our team would place or win their division. We'd all enjoyed the course and the challenge of taking on one of  our passions and hobbies as a way to start the day. When it was all said and done, the shipmates would win the Turkey Trot's first fastest team challenge ( ).

A few of us gathered at a house for some more cookies and I'd later head to catch some Thanksgiving and football at a friend's house. The day would end with a couple more friends with a shot or three that make you appreciate why you love some of those still moments in life. I'd sleep well from and because of all the festivities. So one more Thanksgiving Turkey Trot and day done, I am thankful that I'm happy and dare to dream that it's because I'm happily thankful. 

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