Again this year, I traded watching the Macy’s parade from my mom’s cozy couch for the excitement of thousands of people gathered together in the chilled Thanksgiving morning air. I loved watching the people of all ages and stages assembled near the starting line, adrenaline beginning to surge as the speakers played familiar tunes like “Happy” and since I was in Columbus, Ohio, “Hang on Sloopy”. All walks of life were there; grandpas, dads, sons, grandmas, mothers, daughters, families, friends, strangers, large groups, solo runners, dogs and strollers too. Some had the goal of making a personal best or breaking a record, others had the goal of completing the race to claim their pumpkin pie at the finish line. Their outfits ranged from high tech athletic gear, to colorful tutus and turkey hats, there were people in Cookie Monster pajama pants and others dressed in pilgrim suits. Some participants donned basic crew neck sweatshirts and sneakers, many wore hybrid outfits of any or all of the above mentioned possibilities, all with one goal, one cause, running the race.
The excitement of a race is similar to that of a parade or a concert, a crowd of strangers united for an hour or so. This year was the fourth time I’ve run a turkey trot, and again I was blessed to see the human race at some of its finest moments during a race. What if we all treated one another as we do on the running course?
Even though the temperatures were somewhere in the mid-twenties, and icy pelts of snow were blowing sideways throughout the race, there were spectators, yes friends and family of runners, but also locals who wanted to come out, cheering the runners along. It doesn’t matter how we were dressed or how slow or fast our paces, at every mile marker, and sometimes in between, people cheered, “Great job!” “Keep it up!” “You’re doing awesome!”
Volunteers handed out glasses of water at water stands encouraging us to hydrate, picking up our cups as we ran on.
Two girls in front of me fell out of rhythm. “Go ahead,” said the one. “I don’t want to slow you down. I’ll meet you at the end.” And her friend replied, “No, I’ll slow down. We’re in this together.”
When I’d run my race, gathered my water, found my family and was headed back to the car I saw a man about my age just closing on the finish line. He looked fit, like a runner, pushing a wheelchair occupied by an elderly gentleman wrapped in a blanket. I’m guessing he was the runner’s father, but maybe not.
Life is busy, crazy, intense sometimes. For many you’re neck deep in studying for or grading exams, Christmas shopping and baking and decorating, writing year-end reports, and achieving 2014 sales numbers or deadlines. But, what if we treated each other like runners in the Turkey Trot year round? What if we took a break from trying to get ahead, from keeping our noses to the grindstone and from over achievinghttp://www.columbusturkeytrot.com? What if instead we cheered each other on, smiled at stangers, waved and said, “Happy Thursday or Wednesday or whatever”, gave each other pats on the back, waited for one another, said, “I’ll wait, we’re in this together,” and pushed one another along when we can no longer go it alone?
I am so thankful for all of you. As you trot through this holiday season I hope you find refreshment and encouragement along your course. Just for the record, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing today, “Keep it up! You’re doing awesome!”