Did you have the best Thanksgiving ever? I certainly hope so! Mine was… different, but good. ~smile~ Recently, my Thanksgivings have consisted of getting up and driving to spend a leisurely day with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, Eric, and the pups. Our typical agenda? Cook, eat, laze around, play cards, and eat some more. It is my idea of a good time!
This year, we shook it up a bit. At least, my sister-in-law and I did! We got up bright and early, put on some warm clothes, and participated in a Thanksgiving 5k – the Drumstick Dash. Before you get too excited, I should confess… we walked it. But, we did it, we supported an excellent charity, and we burned off some calories before diving into our Thanksgiving feast! (Woot Woot!)
It Is Time to Expand!
This year has been a year full of new experiences (some great; some difficult)! I have said hello to new hobbies and goodbye to some incredible people whom I dearly miss. In January, I had no idea my Year of Experiences would include some truly difficult ones.
Whether truly exciting or deeply painful, so many of my experiences this year have been incredibly me-focused. I suppose that is okay for the most part – only because learning to step out of my comfort zone will serve me well in life and give me the confidence to help others. With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming, I wanted to broaden my horizons a bit and include some experiences that are less about me and more about others. In the end, those are the experiences which matter most.
Who Runs on Thanksgiving?
For years, I have heard advertisements for The Drumstick Dash – and I confess… my thoughts were not selfless. ~smile~ “What? Me run on Thanksgiving Day? There are so many other activities I can enjoy on my Thanksgiving holiday. What kind of people like to run on Thanksgiving?” Sure, I thought it was a wonderful charitable event, but I had absolutely no plans of ever taking part in one! Thanksgiving is for eating and lazing around – or so I thought!
Last year, I began warming up to the idea – especially since I was trying to lose weight and had physical activity on my mind. Still, that would mean getting up early and sweating on Thanksgiving. (Not Thanksgiving! Please!!!) Thanksgiving is for all manner of selfish pleasures, right?
As the season rolled around this year, Eric brought it up. “Hey, why don’t you do the Drumstick Dash this year and write about it?! And you can take Ramsey too!” Our dog is as loving as can be, but she is NOT the most compliant walking companion. I remembered this recently when we attempted a half hour walk in which time she took about 753 sniffing breaks and stopped to scratch about 359 times. It became clear to me that this 5k was going to be for humans only in my group – that is, if I wanted to finish before dark!
Having never done a 5k of any kind, my inner “problem spotter” reared her ugly head. “It will change your Thanksgiving!” “You will have to wake up super early!” “You will be all sweaty and have to take a bag full of toiletries and clothes with you so you can clean up at their house.” “What if Vanessa does not want to do it with you and you have to go alone?” “What if there are no bathrooms along the way?” If you are interested in discovering any potential problems with your plan, just ask me – I have a talent for finding them!
As the day drew nearer, I told Eric, “You know… you will have to get up early if I do this,” to which he replied, “I will not be your excuse. If you do not participate, it will not be because of me.” Well, fine! No more excuses. ~smile~
Preparing for the Walk – Yes, WALK!
It was only five days prior to the Drumstick Dash when I committed to the process, so training to run a 5K was not in the cards. ~smile~ Walking, however, I could do with little drama as long as I am distracted, right? There should be nothing stressful about walking three miles. ~smile~
Monday and Tuesday of this week, I took thirty minutes walks. That was my training. Was it enough? Well, I am not sure yet! I am so happy to be showered and ready to eat Thanksgiving dinner that the aftermath has not hit me. My Fitbit hit 10,000 steps before noon which was quite exciting, and I have already completed five miles. The walk to and from the car was at least a mile, so we got an excellent warm up and cool down!
Here We Go!
Eric and I arrived in Roanoke around 8am and within fifteen minutes Vanessa and I were pulling out of the driveway and heading to the race. As simple as the process seemed, we still experienced some anxiety about not knowing where to park or what to expect from the walk itself. We saw cars lined up as we got off the highway, so Vanessa decided to park us a bit farther away. No big deal and much less parking stress!
We emerged from the car, started following people who seemed to know where they were going, and finally arrived at the starting line. I must give a shout out to Thelma’s Chicken and Waffles who provided us with free coffee. If you are ever in the Roanoke, VA area, look Thelma up and enjoy some yummy Southern goodness! Before the race began, there was a word of prayer and then the runners were off.
- First wave: Runners who could run a nine-minute mile or less.
- Second wave: Runners with strollers and the slower folks. ~smile~
- Third wave: Walkers of all shapes and sizes, and puppies!
As we began shuffling forward, I felt like an Israelite being led out of Egypt. Three miles is not super long, but when you are waddling along at a snail’s pace, it takes a while! We walked and walked and walked, and I thought, “Why did I not use the porta potty when I had the chance!” I thought we were at least halfway there when we passed the man with the Mile One sign. “ONE MILE?!?! That is it?!” That is when I realized this three mile walk was not going to be a quick ordeal. But, it did not need to be. It was exciting – walking with the crowd, seeing all the smiling (and cold) people, and admiring all the sweet doggies. Even though we were technically just going for a walk, there was a sense that we were a part of something important – something bigger than ourselves – and that was worth every step.
Forward we marched. We finally passed the Mile Two sign and some… unpleasant doggie ornaments. Most people were gracious enough to pick up after their pups, but some were not. Finally, we found ourselves back at the starting line.
We did it! I have completed a 5k. Who cares that I did not run it? ~wink~ Maybe someday… maybe. In the meantime, I am perfectly happy walking for charity. (Around 13,000 people participated!)
New Thanksgiving Tradition?
As we meandered (slowly) back to the car, Vanessa and I discussed the possibility of doing this again. We both felt much better about the experience after having completed it and knowing what to expect in the future. It may not be an every Thanksgiving tradition, but (Lord willing) we can do it again; or, something else equally awesome. ~smile~
We left and headed straight for Starbucks (and so did every other drumstick dasher)! There were event t-shirts all around us! As I type this, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law are cooking and I will soon join the cooking party. The Macy’s Day parade is playing in the background and I am enjoying my post-walk euphoria.
Assuming your special someone is able, seriously consider adding charity work to your holiday traditions. A few shifts at the soup kitchen, collecting money or canned goods, participating in a building project – there are dozens of ways you and your sweetie can pour into others. You may even catch the bug and find yourselves working with these charities year round!
As you bless others, you are also blessed. Have you ever given your time and effort to someone in need? Did it not feel amazing? Charity work may not seem like the best way to spend your time in the beginning, but chances are you will fall in love with it once you get started; and, your hands and talents are in high demand… they are… truly.
Christmas is right around the corner! Start thinking about how you and your honey can take a step back from the holiday craziness and give a part of yourselves to those who cannot give in return. It may just be the sweetest part of your holiday experience!
How can you support others and give while still spending quality time with your sweetie, family members, and friends this holiday season?