Running is a big part of my life, and one factor that makes it so integral is the family of runners that surround me.
I grew up spending Thanksgiving morning in the Manchester Road Race. The first year included my mom, dad, sister, uncle, and grandma. Some of us ran, some walked, and some ran-walked the 4.748 mile course.
Of our bunch, Kevin, my mom’s brother, was the most apt to run, but none of us were runners. My mom’s family are constant adventure-seekers, which explains how we ended up on Manchester’s Main Street that chilly day in the early 90s.
The spectacle of the rowdy crowd, the music, and the runners, especially those in costume, impressed me. I can still taste the delicious hot chocolate as we gathered under the tree at the Army-Navy Club post-race, impressed by ourselves and this spectacular event we’d discovered.
Later, my sister Ashley and I cuddled under blankets and watched movies on the couch, as my parents cooked Thanksgiving dinner. We all ate an extra slice of pie to make up for the calories we’d burned.
On that day that I rocked a white turtleneck, fuzzy headband, and purple Champion sweatshirt, a tradition was born.
Over the years, different groups of our extended family and friends have laced up for the Turkey Trot.
My mom has run almost every year, except when tending to two new foster children.
While in college, my sister, cousins, and I ran hungover, trying not to hurl after partying the night away with friends.
Dave’s first Thanksgiving here, I introduced him to the race and more importantly, the hoopla. He’s been hooked ever since.
When postpartum, Ashley and I cheered from the sidelines with babes strapped to our chests. We always return the next year, even more determined to kick ass.
My cousin Ryan ran a personal best that’s become family legend, a time that has yet to be beat.
It’s been over twenty-five years, and our race day strategy and amenities have evolved. Kevin and his partner Jan bought a Winnebago, which they use almost exclusively for road race tailgating. It’s always parked in the same spot, where we nervous runners have coffee, heat, and a bathroom to enjoy pre-race, and champagne, bagels, and stories to indulge in afterwards.
I’m always reminded how lucky I am that I can run with my husband, my parents, my sister, my uncle, and many other loved ones. We are healthy, happy, and we actually like each other. I’ll save the sugary sap for dessert, but seriously, this is the good stuff of life.
Each year, our group photo gathers one or two new faces, people we welcome into our crazy tribe. I look forward to when our kids can run alongside us, and enjoy hot chocolate at the finish line.