I can’t remember what year we started our new tradition. 2006 or 2007? Maybe? Anyway, yes, the Green Family started a new tradition and it has become one of my favorites. The Naperville Noon Lions Turkey Trot 5K.
The first year my sister, Christy, and I ran, was my first year I started running. I didn’t know how well I’d really do, but I knew I could finish. I can’t even remember if it was my mom or Christy who had the idea to do this. Well, whomever it was, great idea!
The race is on Thanksgiving morning. Race time starts at 8:00 AM and it begins and ends at my old high school. Go Redhawks!! It’s always cold. You know the typical Chicago winter weather, cold, overcast, windy. What’s not to love?! Being that it’s located in Illinois it is pretty flat. A flat, fast course.
The race has grown in the last 5 years. It sells out every year, now. I think they are up to 7 or 8 thousand runners. Not too shabby for a local 5K. Everyone piles into the field house at the high school pre-race to stay warm. They serve pancakes after, but we never stay to eat. It’s not uncommon for me to run into old high school friends and neighbors. There are families of every variety; big, small, young, old. Everyone is happy and smiling and you can hear them placing bets and making jokes. I can’t help but get a kick out of the turkey hats and costumes. One year there was even a running sweet potato!
My dad usually drops us off before the race since parking is insane. Christy and I hang out in the field house along with everyone else and we dread the 10 minutes before the start where we will be forced to stand out in the frigid November morning. Neither one of us likes being cold, Christy even more so. Sometimes the only way I can keep her motivated to run is to promise her Starbucks when we’re done. There is a Starbucks about a half mile away that we will run to after the finish. She will do about anything for some Starbucks. Typical Chicago native.
Every race is different. The first couple of years, she would always win. During these last couple of years, I win, although not by a lot. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who wins. Of course being sisters, there is always a certain amount of competition, but in the scope of things, neither one of us will ever actually “win” this race. We don’t run this for awards or medals.
My favorite parts are waking Christy up super early and listening to her complain on the entire car ride there about how this is crazy to be up this early when it’s this cold. I love getting to huddle next to her at the race start as we shiver and shake, but we’re still smiling because everyone else is doing the same thing. I love that we always start together no matter where we finish. We both know we just want each other to do our best so we each run our own race. And I wouldn’t trade our mad dash to Starbucks, for some caffeine and warmth, for anything. At Starbucks we call our dad and he drives back to pick us up and we discuss the race the whole way home. My mom gets another re-cap once we get back to the house, and regardless of who beat whom, we both get a hug and a “Great job!”
So, whatever your traditions or plans are for this Turkey Day, may you enjoy the holiday and the people you share it with.
Okay, now I have to go help make the turkey.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!