This morning, I started my Thanksgiving Thursday the same way I have for the past eight years…running a 5K in the local turkey trot. Here’s the thing though, our local turkey trot is one of the biggest organized turkey trot races in the country, and to me it is not a friendly trot, it is a fierce “win or lose” competition. One of my friends told me, “Michele, nobody goes out to win the ‘Turkey Trot,’ but she was so wrong. Three years ago, I went out to run it as a family event with no expectations, but when I finished with an unexpected medal, everything changed for me. Now it is something I go out with a take no prisoner mentality. There is no question, I go out and I go out to win.
I started running when I was in 6th grade. I joined the track team and my mom was a coach. I was never the fastest or the most graceful, but I always gave it everything I had. My mom would scream at me at the end of every race from the sidelines to kick it, which meant to finish with everything I had to give. Most times, I spent most of my energy yelling right back at her to stop yelling at me. It was a comedy of sorts. My running career only lasted a short three years but I am so grateful for the experience and the lessons I learned on the track, I have carried throughout my life.
Three simple things:
1. Show up: You can’t win the race unless you show up. Even if you dread it and do not want to do it, show up. Sign up for that race you never thought your could finish. Just do it.
2. Never give up: In every race, there is that moment when you feel like you can’t do it, you just can’t. That is the moment that you need to push harder. Never give up on yourself. The race will be over, and you will never know your strength unless you push through that struggle.
3. Finish strong: Always, always give the final stretch everything you have to give. Go harder than you think you can. That feeling as you cross the finish line is worth everything.
There is still no feeling like the morning of a race. I would wake up in a panic every time, not able to sleep. All of my thoughts were on the race: the build up, the fear of competition, the fear of failing. That feeling has not changed. I always ask myself why I do it. Why do I put myself through this agony every time?
Some of the best experiences of my life have been with a good pair of running shoes on my feet. The places you run, the people you run with, the goals you accomplish, that is where the heart is found. I joke about going out to win; but in truth, its really not about winning the race at all. The winning comes in reaching your goals, in that feeling that you can do anything you set your mind to do. Set a goal and focus on that finish, and never give up. I guarantee you that everything and more will be waiting for you at that finish line!
To this day, whenever I am finishing a race, I can still hear my mom’s voice cheering me on, screaming at me to “kick it.” Throughout my life, I have come to understand and appreciate that she was encouraging me to do my best because she believed I could do it. Even in my darkest hours, I have discovered that I, inevitably, always have something more to give. Find strength in those that believe in you unconditionally. It makes a world of difference. Then, let your feet take you where you need to go.
This morning I crossed the finish line. I could barely breathe, my face was flushed red in the best way, and I was oblivious to the world. Then, out of nowhere, an eleven-year old girl who must have finished around the same time, turns to me and says, “good job,” as she gave me high five and wished me a Happy Thanksgiving. It was a brief interaction but it meant so much. It was almost as if I was looking right into my 6th grade old self. She got it. That’s why I run. That’s why I will continue to run. It’s where I find my strength, and I am so very thankful for it. Have fun “winning” your own personal turkey trot this Thanksgiving. All my love, M. xoxo
Happy Thanksgiving friends.