November 22, 2012
A few years ago, I was in Dallas for Thanksgiving and had the opportunity to run the Dallas Turkey Trot – one of the largest Turkey Trots (in the nation?) with about 70,000 runners. There are two races – an 8-miler and a 5K. This was a few years ago, so I did finish the 8-miler in under an hour (pre-ultra marathons).
I was not particularly in shape to run a decent 8-miler, having just done a rather difficult 50K 4 days prior (and barely finished), so I had made plans to do the 5K (non-competitive class, rather than chip-timed) with my nephew, Reagan.
Last year, at the Piedmont Turkey Trot, my other nephew, Evan (now 7 years old, two years older than Reagan), had wanted to run with me. We pointed out to Evan that he would not be able to stay with me, and in fact, he had crapped out walking with my folks around Mile 2.
Reagan, on the other hand, ran with Marisa. She said that he would sprint out ahead, faster than she could run, and then stop and walk (where Marisa would catch up), and then sprint again. That would be the same plan today, as I could probably race-walk at his sprint rate and then catch up when he stopped to walk. The difference, though, between Piedmont and Dallas was about 69,000 people! His mom, my sister Riva, said he needed to make sure he didn’t lose me and to stay together.
So, we mostly stayed out of the crowd until it was just about time to start. Riva was running the 8-miler and planned to meet us at the fountain after we finished. I guessed that our times might be similar, seeing as she could probably run 8 miles in 45 minutes or so, and I wasn’t sure Reagan could complete THREE miles so fast.
When the race started, Reagan and I were holding hands, but I told him as soon as he saw a good opening, he could run, but not to lose me. So… as soon as there was a gap, he darted out. Fortunately, I could see over everyone’s head and keep an eye on him and catch him as soon as he slowed up, and grab his hand again. He was very excited and looked to be having a good time.
This continued for the first mile or so and went quite well, except for one time when he got a bit underfoot under a taller runner and got kicked a little bit. He was OK and the other runner (probably around my age) was not upset in the least.
Around a mile-and-a-half, we saw Evan and Brian, their dad. We waved and continued on, but probably 10 minutes later, Reagan was DONE. He wanted to turn around and go back to the start, but I pointed out that we were already past halfway and going back to the start would be further than just continuing.
I figured that at some point, I would need to carry him, and I kept asking him if he needed that. He was a bit pouty at times, but he kept insisting that he could continue. Along with that, I kept lying to him about where we were, because the more he was convinced that we were almost done, the better his mood was.
Just before 3 miles, he asked me how far ahead we would finish than his mom. We were already at 45 minutes, so I figured that Riva was probably already done, but I still said that we were WAY ahead, and that he was probably the fastest 5-year old in the race!
Finally, we saw the actual finish line and suddenly he had the wherewithal to get across, and ACTUALLY run! We finished in 50 minutes.
Even though he was having trouble in the latter stages of the event, I was very proud of him. Doing 3.1 miles with a body that doesn’t even come up to my waist, well, that is pretty impressive!
Later that day, he and his brother Evan competed (against each other) in a mile time-trial at the local track. Evan did 12 minutes and Reagan did 10:50. Unbelievable!