It's Thanksgiving again... and if you're from Warren or grew up near there, that can only mean one thing. That's right. It's time for the 30th Annual Warren Turkey Trot. For many families, including mine, this race has become just as much of a tradition as the food, football, and naps. Unfortunately I missed this race the last year or two, so I definitely wanted to be there today. Before that though my consecutive streak probably stretched back to the early 90's.
My wife Tami also decided to join my brother, sister, and I this morning for her first official 5 mile race. We arrived at the Kent State Trumbull Campus sometime around 8:45. The weather was almost perfect. Sunny with temps in the low 30's. My brother and sister were already signed up for the race but Tami and I had to register day-of-race. However, when we got to the table to signup this guy told us that they were out of shirts, so we both decided to run as bandits today.
The 2 mile race began at 9am with the 5 mile race set to start at 9:45. As we waited to run I enjoyed chatting with all the usual people I know that show up for this race each year. This is one of my favorite things I enjoy about this race. It's almost like a family reunion since I grew up watching my dad run in this race with all the people he knew. Now today, those friends along with the ones I've met along the way are all together. So it's a lot like one big party. A couple of my NEO Trail Club friends were also in attendance, including Bill Losey, Bob Combs and his son Shames. This was going to be Shames' first 5 mile race. The other neat thing about this run is you get to see people from all walks of life. There are kids as young as 3 years old doing the 2 mile run, 70-80 year old men participating in the 5 mile, and high school speedsters dueling it out in both events. There was even one guy that carried a wooden log on his shoulder for the entire 5 mile run. Not sure of his motive but it was definitely interesting.
Around 9:40 everyone began to head over to the start line. I walked over there with Bill and we waited as Ted Rupe gave the final race instructions. Ted has organized this race for as long as I can remember and he does a great job each year. For those of you who don't know Ted, he has coached the Maplewood cross country team and helped lead them to the state championship each year since 1990. Back in his earlier running days, Ted was world ranked in the 10K and won the Cleveland Marathon in 1986. His son Craig won the 5 mile race today with a time of 26:08. To learn more you can his website by clicking here.
Once the gun went off Bill and I got locked into our pace and we hit the first mile in 7:30. We joked along the way since this lady was running with her dog ahead of us for awhile. Thankfully though we soon passed them. Somewhere near the 2nd mile marker Bill went ahead of me and I tried to just maintain the pace that I was going at. I can't remember the last time I did any speedwork leading up to today's run and I could definitely tell by the way I was breathing, so I planned to just treat this as a fast training run. I ended up sticking around a 7:30 pace throughout the entire run though and finished with a time of 37:30 which wasn't too bad considering I just finished running 31 miles on the Laurel Highlands Trail five days ago. Here's a picture of me coming down the final straightaway...
After I finished I went over to talked to my brother and sister to see how they did. Jeff finished 35th overall with a time of 32:13 and Jamie finished 41st overall (5th female overall) with a time of 33:13. Then I waited and watched as Tami crossed the finish line in 48 minutes. I'm very proud of her for completing her first official 5 miler. Here's a picture that my dad took of her near the finish line. This photo made me laugh because she's looking back to smile at the camera while this girl next to her is in an all out sprint.
Following the awards ceremony where Jamie received a plaque, we headed back to my parents house where my mom was making final preparations for our Thanksgiving day feast which included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, salad, rolls, hot apples, and pumpkin pie. Everything was delicious! I'm so thankful to have such a great family, be able to run and compete in races, and have warm food waiting for me afterwards. Thanksgiving is a holiday that reminds all of us of how much we take for granted everyday. Therefore, we must always remember how lucky we all are and help those around us that are not as fortunate.
This was our first Thanksgiving dinner without my mom's father who always provided the pre-meal prayer. Although he left this world in July he will always be with us and remembered. Here is a scripture and a lenten devotional that he wrote that I thought was appropriate for today...
"This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you." -John 15:12
We take so much for granted and have accepted, without question, the love of our God throughout our years. When we're infants we take our parents love for granted. As we grow up we take for granted such things as: a nice family, a nice home, food to eat, a warm place to sleep, our friends, a good education, a job so we may earn a living, an automobile, a church in which to worship, and a God who loves us no matter what we do or say. The list could go on and on.
We take for granted all of these blessings, and more, that God has provided for us. It rarely occurs to us that, by God's grace, all of our needs are God's gifts to us as an act of love. So, isn't it time we start to appreciate a God that gave "His only Begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life?"
Prayer: Thank you, O God, for Thy many blessings. May we continue our journey through life with Thy every constant presence, and may we learn to appreciate all of Thy goodness and mercy that we have, up to this time, taken for granted. Amen.