Winner, Winner, Turkey Dinner!

Thanksgiving is a time we get to reflect on everything we are thankful for. It’s also my favorite day of the year. There’s no pressure to find the perfect gift or how much money to spend. It’s just quality time with your family over an indulgent meal and maybe a few too many glasses of wine (ok more than a few in my family).

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Proof. My Aunt Nancy drinking wine straight out of a Pyrex.

This year, I was missing two of the most important people in my life: my mom and my little sister. My mom spent the holiday in Arizona with my aunt, cousins and grandparents. My little sister on the other hand, was halfway across the world in Italy. It’s the only time ever my sister and I haven’t had Thanksgiving together except when I was studying abroad. She got to spend the day in Rome at the Vatican with her classmates. Coincidentally, I got to spend my Thanksgiving abroad in Rome as well, so it was sort of like being in the same place even if we were apart. It wasn’t the same not having my partner in crime by my side at the family gathering this year.

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Me in Roma for Thanksgiving back in 2009. #throwback

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My sister in Roma. See we even take similar #selfies.

It’s been a rough couple of months with some life changing things happen. From a break up to moving my whole life to training for my first Ironman. There have definitely been some major sacrifices to finding what I am meant to do. Instead of buying a bed or other practical things like that, I splurged on the tri bike of my dreams. For the past few months I’ve been living on top ramen, lean cuisines and a blow up mattress. Every spare dollar has gone to training, traveling or competing for triathlons. But I’m following my dreams.

I wouldn’t have made it through without my family or a few close friends. My mom-For being tough on me and challenging me to be my very best and rooting me on the whole time. My dad-For his quiet understanding and keen sense of humor. My sister-My other half. We can always make each other laugh, have a million inside jokes. When we are together it’s like we’ve never been apart. Katie-My New Zealand training bestie, the one who always has the best ideas of how to get in trouble, the one who has the best stories and always can make me laugh. Terri-My favorite, who has the hugest heart and loves unconditionally. I can always confide in her and get the best advice. Julia-My wifey, my dancing like a crazy buddy, my twinsie. Especially these people. I am so thankful for each of you.

But one of the best parts of my Thanksgiving was the Turkey Trot. It was a local race in my hometown of Carson City, being put on for the first time by the Fire Wives of Station 51 and a local gym called Kaia Fit. My plan was to run to the race start which was about a mile away from my mom’s house and then run back after to get some extra mileage in. However, when I woke up Thanksgiving morning and it was 27 degrees out, I decided I would much rather sit in my car until the race started instead of standing around freezing my butt off. So I went and picked up my race packet, and waited in my car until 10 minutes to the race. I meandered over and checked out the competition. There was a father/daughter duo that looked like serious runners and a few others I could tell who had  experience. While I was waiting, my toes were turning into ice cubes. Finally, they started counting down. I got right up to the front but off to the side. I noticed a couple of others readying their watches. The race starter couldn’t figure out how they were going to count down. Would it be ‘Ready, set, go’, or ‘1, 2, 3, GO’? But then it was time 3…2…1…GO! And we were off.

I went out immediately with the daughter I had noticed earlier and another guy. I passed the guy almost immediately. Then it was just me and this girl who looked like she was in high school out in front 1-2. I decided to warm up and reel her in. My first mile felt great despite my heart rate strap not being tight enough. It began to dance and slide, shimmying its way down to my waist. After a few failed attempts of fixing it, I just left it. My first mile was a nice 6:36, my fastest mile time ever. (I have to mention now that I am not a sprinter despite what others may think. I’m built for the longer distances!) And that’s when I caught up to the girl in front of me. She said ‘Good job!’ as I ran by her. I quickly said the same back and then the race was mine. I was winning. And not just winning my age group, or the first female, but the whole race!

The race course went up and over a small over pass. Now I already mentioned that it was 27 degrees out, but Carson City is also at about 5,000 feet above sea level. My lungs used to be acclimated to these conditions but living down in the bay area has made my lungs shrink to the size of raisins apparently. That overpass wasn’t even that steep or that long but I was losing my breath and struggling to maintain my pace. I turned around and the dad was coming up behind me. I was sure he was going to catch me but I wasn’t going to make it easy.

Going down the other side of the over pass, more people were coming up. People were cheering me on as I made my way back to the finish. I had to win this race. I had to keep the lead. I struggled to drop my pace down again. At this point, I knew I had gone out too hard and that I wasn’t really in good shape for this race or maybe it was just the altitude. Whatever the reason, I had to maintain my spot in the front. I heard someone coming up behind me. I dug deeper and dropped down my pace a little more. I was giving it everything I had to stay in front. I rounded the last corner and saw the finish line. They announced that the first runner was coming in (me!) There was a little ribbon finish line. I bounded through it with my arms held high! I won!

I turned around to wait for the next person to come in. It turned out to be a guy I hadn’t even noticed before. He was one of those atypical guys you see doused in sunscreen, looking like a day walker. We gave each other a hug and said congratulations. We talked a little bit and it turned out he was training for a 50k and was just doing the race for fun like me. Way to go distance/ultra runners! The dad was next and then the original guy I passed. And finally, the daughter came in. We exchanged congratulations and smiles.

And then I watched every single person come in. It was amazing to sit there and watch everyone. I started to leave and a girl came running up to me. She asked if I was the one who had won the race. I told her yes and she said “Well, you better come back. A big prize is coming your way!” Then she smacked my butt. I’m not sure if that was the prize or she was talking about something else. I got a nice gift basket with a $75 gift card to Kaia fit, a free one hour massage and some other spa goodies. Not too bad. I can’t wait for the chance to do it again. The only thing I would have changed was if someone had been there to watch the magic happen.

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At the finish!

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The results!

 

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And the goods!

So this year, as cliché as it may sound, I’m thankful for my family, friends, my health and the opportunity to train for triathlons. Regardless of the hardships I’ve faced or the sacrifices I’ve made, there are others out there who do not have the same opportunities to do what they love. But I would not change anything that has happened because it has put me in the place where I am meant to be right now.

What are you thankful for?

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