Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Running Towards Healing

This Thanksgiving was very therapeutic for me. I am not talking about the turkey and dressing, the time spent in reflection over all that I have to be thankful for or even the time spent with friends. Rather it was the 5k Turkey Trot that I ran which provided a sense of healing and closure for me.
Let me start from the beginning. The small town I grew up in had a yearly fall festival called Sawmill Days. Sawmill Days was a celebration of the town’s rich heritage of cutting down trees. Lumber lovers from all around would make their way to Glenwood during this time to gather with other ‘necro-tree-liophiles’ to discuss current news in the lumbering world and to participate in contests of sawing prowess. Tents and booths would invade the sprawling metropolis that is Glenwood and the crowds would gather in wild revelry (which mostly entailed milling about from tent to booth looking at antiques and watching the children jump into a sawdust pile.)
When I was nine I decided that I was old enough to participate in the ‘Sawmill Kid Fun Run.’ It was a daunting 1k that meandered through the streets of downtown, pushing its challengers to the physical limit before rewarding the finishers with cotton candy and funnel cakes.
I decided to begin my training the day of the event by having my parents take me to the Downtown Café for the early bird special breakfast platter. I feasted upon scrambled eggs, enjoyed both bacon and sausage and washed it all down with a syrup-laden short stack of pancakes. I felt that the extra calories would give me the energy I needed for the race that was to begin within the hour.
As we made our way to the starting line, I saw other children stretching and jogging in place. I laughed inwardly at the futility of their actions. They did not know that the real champion had just arrived. I told my dad my thoughts and he merely grinned in what I assumed at the time was agreement.
I lined up with the other kids at the starting line and waited for the gun to go off, sounding the beginning of the excursion. When the signal sounded I leapt of the starting block to grab an early lead! I led the group as we rounded the first building. Upon getting out of sight, I promptly veered to the sidewalk and began to unload the early bird special breakfast platter all over the concrete. At that point I decided to end my career in long distance racing and I wove my way back through the crowd to where my parents were watching the other kids finish the race. When I got to them, my dad appeared confused that I was not among the other kids who were running. I informed him of my decision to no longer pursue a career in racing and he countered with a long speech about why I should not quit what I start and said that he was disappointed in me for not finishing the race. I did not have the heart to tell him that he had wasted 5.75 on the early bird special breakfast platter.
Turkey Trot 2009 was the first footrace I had been in since my foray into racing as a nine year old. I took the old running shoes out of retirement (and then had to replace them seeing as that I no longer wear a child’s 9 in shoes.) I am proud to say that I finished this race (in 4th place at that) and have grand plans for returning to Sawmill Days after my travels and claiming a victory in the ‘Sawmill Kid Fun Run.’