I love Thanksgiving. Spending time with family and slowing down to count our blessings for a few days is good for the soul. Kick it off with a road race and you have all of the ingredients for a perfect holiday.
Almost every year since 2005, I have run the Berbee Derby on Thanksgiving morning. The race features a 5k and a 10k. Both courses are hilly and you never know what mother nature will bring on race day: sometimes it is -20 degrees with biting wind, other times it is 50 degrees and sunny. Either way, it is always a treasured start to my Thanksgiving.
I used to get up early Thanksgiving morning and come out to race. However, as my children have grown, we have made the Berbee Derby a family tradition. Rather than racing, my husband and I run with our boys.
Imagine my delight when this year my oldest son told me he wanted to train for and run the 10k this year. This was big. You see, he ran a 10k in the summer of 2011 after begging me non-stop for months. He had run several 5ks and he wanted to do a 10k really badly. I told him he needed to build up to it and train for it. He wouldn’t train, yet he wouldn’t let up on the idea of doing a 10k that summer. So I gave in – hoping he’d learn a lesson along the way. Sure enough, the race was very hard for him. He finished it and we actually had a fair bit of fun, but he had to walk a lot and he didn’t like that.
Before we even finished, he decided next time he’d surpass the 5k, he’d train for it. So this spring, we trained for and raced a 5 miler. He rocked it and began to understand the importance of training. When football season ended and he decided to shoot for the 10k, he knew he had to start training again. I wrote up a six-week training schedule and we ran together 3-4 times a week. We put in the miles and had a blast chatting along the roads. He taught me some French and told me all about his favorite video games. I pushed him to run father and he pushed me to try trail running. Our training was not perfect because we all got slammed with a bad head cold 2 weeks ago, but I knew he could do it and do it well.
Thanksgiving morning was absolutely gorgeous. It was windy, but the sun was shining and it was almost 50 degrees. The 10k starts first, so James and I lined up ready to go. The race has turned into a huge event and we were surrounded by a ton of people. I could tell James was a little worried since he was the only kid we saw in our Corral. A snarky guy didn’t help by scolding him “are you sure you belong in Corral B?” Internally I wanted to let that guy have it, but I ignored him and reassured James that he was exactly where he should be.
The gun went off and we were in a sea of people. All the 5k racers surrounded us and it was fun running through a tunnel of screaming people. Just past the starting line, we heard Gangnam Style blaring and we both laughed out loud. I knew it was going to be a great race. From the get-go, we were passing through a very crowded field. It would have made me crazy if I was trying to race, so I tried to help him carefully navigate through without expending too much energy. The first mile clicked off at 8:28 – perfect. We continued on and he was getting warm, but seemed to be doing great. Miles 2 and 3 he ran in 8:19 and 8:40. Mile 4 was hard as we turned into 20 mph headwinds and the huge hills started. But he welcomed the cooling wind and pressed on. Miles 4 and 5 were 8:33 and 8:48. Once we hit mile 5, he was ready to kick it up a notch though. It was still really windy and very hilly, but his last mile was the fastest at 8:04. He then flew down through the finish chute, logging a 52:46. Amazing. It was a 9 minute PR over last summer’s race (and he beat that snarky guy too).
I am so proud of him. Hard work pays off and it tends to be a lot of fun too.
Shortly after we finished, we found my husband and youngest son. They had run the 5K in 26:59 and had a blast. What a great start to my favorite holiday. I am so thankful I can run with my family.
Do you run with your kids? Do you have any family running traditions?