My co-worker, Maria, is the only work cave comrade I socialize with outside of the cave, and Maria doesn't run. However, a few members of her family do. Teela, her sister, is 38, a physical therapy assistant, and just started running to stay in shape. Teela said if I could get Maria to run, they're going to call me Saint Red, since Maria, the younger, full figured sister, tends toward good beer, cigarettes, fair weather and comfortable seating. Teela runs with their cousin, David, an ex-marine, having defied near death in Iraq, is now trying to defy death by being a smoking runner. I don't mean a runner that runs smoking fast, but one who smokes. I met them at Maria's wedding and instantly liked them both--her whole family is like that. I've never known a Teela before, except for the neighbor's English bulldog, but when I met Teela, she seemed familiar, like we went back years and somehow just lost touch. David is a youngun--just 26, but aside from firm flesh and impertinent denial of his own mortality, nothing about him is young. He's a old soul shot straight out of the 80's with looks a cross between Tom Cruise and Michael J. Fox. Perennially polite, he has yet to say a slightly off-color to me, although I've egged him on plenty in this regard, he has yet to take the bait. Since, I'm really an immature, barely jelled young soul masquerading in a old, but runner well-maintained body, we meet somewhere in the middle and get along famously.
I've been following the running progress of these two since September. The Perry Turkey Trot was going to be their goal race, their first 5K. I was sitting on the fence of whether to do my hometown turkey trot, The HomeRun for the Homeless, or run the race with David and Teela to support their foray into running. The Homerun is like a big family reunion of my running family and it was my first race, some 7 years ago, that addicted me to running in the first place. I decided to support David and Teela although I worried about David since he kept teasing me that he was going to alternate a seven minute pace with walking smoke breaks. I lecture endlessly about the incompatibility of smoking and running--mutually exclusive entities that can't, for the long haul, exist together without one winning out over the other. An all or nothing kind of girl, when I was a smoker, I didn't exercise a lick, so I don't understand this. Smoking and running is like dirt thrown on top of pristine, white snow. I really didn't want to be doing CPR when he crossed the finish line.
Actually, last minute, he told me he planned to run along with Teela--that he just couln't leave her. I explained that it's OK to run your own race--you'll see each other at the end, but that's how he is. He talks a bunch of shit, but in the end he's just a super nice guy and sticks with his family, like small town country folk tend to do.
Thanksgiving morning the weather couldn't be more deplorable--grey, raining in sheets with a high of 50 degrees, I met David and Teela along with Teela's dad, Gary, dressed in head to toe camouflage, at the Key bank just down the street from Central Catholic. I'm glad they chose this as their first race, since as one of Terry Lewis's Ohio Challenge Series would be HUGE and festive with an atmosphere more akin to a marathon. In fact, I think over 2,000 runners, mostly youngsters, milled about the Central Catholic grounds in defiance of the rain, in shorts, and refusing to shiver. I picked up my bib at the table and told Gary--Teela's dad, who, like a saint was going to bring our turkey shirts a mile back to the car in addition to supporting his family, "Look, my race number is my age! 29!" I think that sweet old man believed me, so I now I really liked him. I didn't bother to correct him and just went with it. Teela was crazy excited and getting nervous. It was weird being at a race where I didn't recognize anyone, but just a few people, since this was an entirely different running community.
We walked out to the start, a wave of black spandex, shorts, and goosebumps. I tried to get over that "walking to the gas chamber" feeling I get just before a 5k, because I seriously hate them. I haven't run one in yearly 2 years! The start was off! We started near the back, so for the first mile, I weaved through a swath of humanity, tons of little kids, and puddles. The crowd was so thick my first mile split was just a ten minute pace, but I really picked it up the second and third miles, crossing the finish line in 27 minutes and some change. I waited for David and Teela. David came through first looking fabulous--he has a smooth easy stride and you can't even tell he had shrapnel blown through his shoulder, although I'm sure he was feeling it with the rain and all. Teela came through about a minute or two later, exasperated, but smiling and so proud!
I was going to spend the weekend with my sister down in Delaware Co., along with the kids, and the ex, so I had to rush off and get ready. David waved goodbye and said, "Hey Red--look at this," while in the spirit of youthful obstinance, lit a cigarette to irk me. Like thowing dirt on snow. My sister cooks a Thanksgiving meal that could rival any Food Network cook out there. She could do a throw down with Bobby Flay and win. She's that good. She loves to entertain and does it effortlessly. She was planning pomegranate sorbet with chocolate croissants for dessert, but she wanted me--the slightly off-kilter, middle redheaded child to bring the pumpkin pie to maintain tradition amidst the gourmet. I ended up making a square pumpkin pie with surgically grafted crusts, since my round pie plate is one of those materially shared items of divorce and was at the ex's house.
I thought it completely apropos to bring a square pumpkin pie. My life isn't really turning out how I expected--more non traditional than I ever anticipated--yet I have so much be thankful for. We can't have perfect. Who said life was going to be perfect and without it's pain, but I'm learning, over time, to focus on the good stuff--my children, an ex that still likes me, great friends, astounding health. I have everything I need, and most of what I want for I've learned to not want for much, materially. You won't find me fighting the crowds on Black Friday--not my thing--but leftovers are. Happy Thanksgiving!