Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksrunning Day

When I was a kid, I hated Thanksgiving.

Mostly, I hated the food. My baseball mitt was more tender, and less dry, and more flavorful than my grandmother's turkey. The stuffing looked like dog food and smelled like feet.

My grandmother thought Thanksgiving was the perfect time to serve Brussels sprouts. The only dessert was pumpkin pie which I was pretty sure it was some sort of joke parents played on kids... "Let's see if we can get them to eat pumpkin. But how? I know, we'll put it in a pie... Oh, put some marshmallows on it to make it look more like a dessert and less like baby poop! This is going to be hilarious!"

Over time I learned to love Thanksgiving. It helped when I realized that Turkey doesn't have to be cooked into leather, and that green beans go great with mashed potatoes, especially if they've got a three-way going with butter.

It also helped that I discovered the Turkey Trot.

"Turkey Trot" is a generic term for Thanksgiving day runs. They come in all sizes and flavors. You can join a huge, several thousand strong mega-run, like the one I'll be running this year. There are also smaller community trots that offer less-traffic, smaller crowds, and a better chance to get an age group award. Regardless, your local running store, or the internet can find a trot near you.

Why run on Thanksgiving? Good question!

Start of the 2011 Drumstick Dash in Indianapolis

Most people say they run Turkey Trots to put some calories in the bank, a preemptive strike against the mountain of food they imagine they'll be putting down their throat later in the day. And probably again, even later, when the leftovers come back out.

There's also the feeling of superiority you get when news spreads that you ran a race, earlier in the day, and here you are, still breathing and everything. You'll get a mix of reactions, like "That's great! How was it? I should do that next year." (most of your family), or "Oh Honey, Aren't you tired?" (your grandmother or other grandmotherly relatives), or "Couldn't your lungs freeze? I heard about a guy a couple years ago who's lungs froze solid and he fell over dead 17 yards from the finish line." (the Uncle in the trucker hat who brought pork rinds). So, that's entertaining.

For me, running on Thanksgiving is more about celebrating what I am most thankful for.

I'm very happy to have healthy, brilliant, funny, awesome kids, a girlfriend who likes me despite that fact that I'm so... me, family who are always there with unconditional support and hilarious stories, and a dog that is an absolute delight.

However, I'm most thankful that I have a body that supports my brain.

My body has kept my brain fed, warm, moist, and safe for decades. It keeps the thoughts, dreams, feelings, and memories in that brain viable and alive. It safely transports my brain so I can see and hear and smell and feel and experience the world around me. Thanks to my body, I know what my kids look and sound like when they can't stop laughing. I know the taste of great food and the smell of clean laundry. I know the sound of rain, and of crashing surf, and of footsteps muffled from newly fallen snow.

Without our bodies, we don't just stop experiencing amazing things, we stop being.

This Thanksgiving, give thanks for your very own amazing system of muscles and bones, pipes and tubes, inputs and outputs, factories and sensors that keep your brain alive to live and laugh and love.

I'm going to show my thanks to my body by treating it to a run on Thursday morning. If you don't have a local Turkey Trot, or they just don't trip your trigger, you can hold your own Turkey Trot. Just gather some friends, or family, or some of both, on Thursday morning, put your shoes on, and get outside. You don't have to run, walking counts, too. And if it's too cold in the morning, go out after you eat, or at halftime of the football game.You might just find that you like it, and you might just start a new family tradition.

You can also show thanks to your body by showing it respect. It's okay to enjoy your meals, but don't eat like an idiot. Don't drink yourself stupid, either. Be kind to your body, and it will reward you with, you know, life. Treat it like shit, and it will take you down with it.

Remember... you are your own caretaker. You have been put in charge of the body that let's you be you.

Give thanks for your body, and treat it well.

Good running,