This year’s Thanksgiving was amazing.
So much better than last year, when I spent my entire Thanksgiving driving alone (with my dog, of course) across the most desolate corners of Oregon and Nevada on my way back home to New Jersey, resting briefly at a truck stop for a depressing dinner of greasy pizza.
Thinking back on that day makes me so much more grateful for all the love, friends, and deliciousness involved in Thanksgiving 2017.
Even though I’d only gotten a few precious hours sleep the night before (busy ruminating on anxieties about things I don’t have rather than counting my blessings) I was supercharged and ready to hit the track Thursday morning.
All the rushing to get there proved unnecessary as I spent about an hour hanging around the registration area, drinking rrrrrrrreally strong Starbucks and chatting.
A few of my friends were there, including 3 Peaks homie Chuck Walen and his awesome lady, Kim, who just finished her first ultra this year. Welcome to the dark side, Kim! There’s no going back.
Malou Shannon, the only person I know who’s run Headwaters 50k more times than me, also showed up early to kick ass.
Before the race started, we said a prayer, saluted the flag and listened to a young woman speak about how much SFA has helped her out this year.
And then… we Zumba’d.
** Side note – Dancing around like a lunatic is an absolutely phenomenal way to warm up and loosen your hips. I even replaced some of my boring morning yoga with this fabulous dancercise. **
About 160 people ran or walked the 5k this year. It starts and finishes on the COS track and meanders through a mellow trail in between. I wore Saucony Type A road/track shoes because they’re literally light as a feather, but I was longing for the grip of my Peregrines once we hit the trail.
I went into the race with my mind set on speed. I haven’t done a track workout in a minute and was jonesing for the kind of push that makes your muscles scream.
Chuck is a badass runner, even though he totally let me pass him at the Siskiyou Outback 50k this year. My strategy for the 5k was to keep him within sight for most of the race, and then catch up once we got back on the track for the last 300m or so.
My strategy proved effective, although I never actually caught up to Chuck. He finished a good few seconds before I did, winning his age group and coming in 4th overall.
I knew he knew I was on his tail because I saw him peek behind his shoulder. In that moment of diverted focus, I easily closed the gap by another 5 meters.
Never look back.
I finished feeling totally spent and worn out… and badass. Exactly what I wanted.
I didn’t realize who won until I checked the leaderboard and saw no one else in front of my name.
Even though this was a fun, family-friendly event, there were some mighty fine runners there and I feel really jazzed about winning my first race. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to spend a gorgeous fall morning running with awesome people while supporting a really important nonprofit in our region.
Winning the race and a $50 gift certificate to Sportmen’s Den in Mount Shasta was the candle on my cake.
When SFA Executive Director Denise Spayd called my name to receive the award, I gave her a biiiiiiig hug. We know each other because I wrote an article for Mount Shasta News about SFA and the Run for Food a few years ago.
Thanks so much to Liz Pyles of Mount Shasta News for capturing that moment.
Seeing my picture in the newspaper I used to write for is an extra layer of warm fuzziness.
Full circle, and stuff.
I came home to Dunsmuir and rested with my feet up, sipping a recovery beer while my amazingly handsome and talented boyfriend got our side dish ready to bring to a potluck full of happy homies.
The rest of the evening was equally fantastic, with much eating, drinking, and being merry with friends.
Thanksgivings aren’t always awesome, but this year really highlighted all I have to be grateful for.
A SHIT TON.
Thank you and thanks for reading
Freelance writer. Trail runner. Relentless savage.