On Thanksgiving morning, I ran my final race of 2015. After running my first half marathon in 2014, I made it a goal to complete two half marathons in 2015, but I really underestimated how much my love of running would grow and how it would become such a big part of my life. This year, I've completed six half marathons and a 5K, two 10Ks and a 15K mixed in. The Thankful 13 was the last and best race I could have asked for to round out the 2015 racing season.
Running a race on Thanksgiving is amazing for two reasons—one, it allows you to work hard for your Thanksgiving Day meal and two, it gives you miles of time to yourself to think about all of the things you're grateful for. This race especially did that for me. At registration, participants were asked to submit what they were thankful for and some of the responses were posted on signs throughout the race course. I loved reading what others wrote and even though I didn't see any of my responses, it didn't stop me from thinking about it while I was running. I'm thankful for a healthy body that enables me to put one foot in front of the other and run more miles than I ever knew I could. I'm thankful for Geof who ran this race side-by-side with me and pushed me to reach a goal I've been chasing for the whole year (more on that later). I'm thankful for my family and friends. I'm thankful for Utah and how beautiful it is to call this place home. I'm thankful to have two jobs that I love equally that make me happy. I'm thankful for every opportunity I get to run and be outside.
I had been watching the forecast for race day all week and was expecting snow and temperatures in the 20s, but sometime the night before, the snow warning disappeared and instead, we were racing at an overcast 28˚F. It was the coldest race I've ever run. My intention for this race was to just run for fun and not worry too much about my pace or what my time was. I think that ended up benefitting me.
But let's backtrack a little. I woke up on Thanksgiving morning on 4.5 hours of sleep (I had worked the night before until 11:30 p.m. prepping for Black Friday). I ate breakfast, drank a glass of nuun, brushed my teeth, got dressed, foam rolled and headed to Lehi for the race. I was tired and fell asleep on the thirty minute car drive down there. When we got there, I noticed every runner was so bundled up. Knowing that I tend to run hot, I wore a hoodie, long sleeve, tights, ear warmer and gloves. Some people were wearing full-on puffy jackets! I don't know how they do it.
The race began at 8:00 a.m. and it took me the first two miles to really settle into a good pace. It seemed like everyone started out a little fast because we all wanted to warm up due to how cold it was. At mile 2, I was feeling warm and had to take my gloves off. At mile 5, I was so warm that I had to take my hoodie off and tie it around my waist. For the majority of the course, we ran along the paved Jordan River Parkway trail and the rest through nearby neighborhoods. My favorite parts by far were along the trail with views of the river, ponds and wildlife. We even saw a few horses and cows along the way. At mile 8, my hands started to get cold again and I put my gloves back on.
Geof and I decided in the beginning to stick together because we weren't going for any time goal. Plus, it was Thanksgiving and we wanted to be around who we love and do this together. At the start line, he told me he still wanted to do a sub 2:00. I told him I would just run by how I felt that day. I was enjoying every second up through mile 9 + 10, where the little bits of soreness started to come on. I reminded myself that only a 5K was left. The last two miles were tough. I was getting tight in my glutes and the 2:00 pacers passed us. My legs also felt like they were going numb. I kept pushing but it was hard.
We kept the pacers in sight and I felt like I wanted to walk a couple of times, but Geof wouldn't let me. I'm so glad he did that and I'm so glad I didn't give in to walking. The last miles also had small uphills and I had to mentally just work on getting up each one without thinking of the next rolling uphill ahead. It helped to think of accomplishing one thing at a time, in small increments. Even when I felt sore enough that I physically thought I needed to stop and walk, I was always able to push just a little more. I proved that to myself that day. I ran the entire course and I'm so happy about it (the only walk breaks were through the water stations). Everyone is always stronger than they think they are.
As we ran up the last slight uphill to the finish line, I could see the finish arch. Down the chute, the pacers turned around to usher us and other runners around us in and we knew we still had a sub 2:00. I picked up the pace and ran across the line. Final chip time—1:58:23.
I was jumping up and down inside. I finally got my sub 2:00 on a course with positive elevation (not downhill). I was so ecstatic and proud. Taking it easy was the best approach for me and not putting so much pressure on myself helped me reach this goal unexpectedly.
13—9:21 + 1:26
At the finish, there was hot chocolate and the best little pumpkin cake bites with cream cheese frosting. I took four of those (shh, don't tell). When I got home, I showered, took a nap and then headed to my parents' house that evening for an untraditional Thanksgiving dinner.
If you ever get a chance to run a race on Thanksgiving morning, do it! This was my second year in a row running a turkey trot of some kind and it's probably going to become a tradition. One last thing I'm thankful for—all of the volunteers who braved the cold to make race day so memorable. Thank you!