The most favorite way for kids to “run” with their moms? Likely.

Hey, BAMR, did you run with your kiddos on Thanksgiving?

And no, I don’t mean chasing your 3-year-old around the dining room table promising that if he tries just one bite of Grandmother’s sweet potatoes, he can have an early chocolate Santa Claus. C’mon! Just. One. Bite. Eeeeeeeeee!

Given all the food anticipation, it’s probably no surprise that Thanksgiving is the most popular holiday for races, according to the 2017 National Runner Survey; 54% of respondents participated in a Turkey Trot.

People often assume that because I have been a working member of the running-fitness-health industrial complex for more than 20 years that
1) My kid runs, and
2) I will have something more insightful to say about their own child’s exquisitely fast time in a local cross-country meet than “Wow.”

Nope and nope.

Nina, then 7, scored pumpkin bread at her first Thanksgiving 5k (ish) in 2011, which she was NOT happy about doing. “When I am 18, I will still be recovering from this 5K marathon!”

Now it is true that I know of some local fast runner mamas whose offspring are clearly blessed with the genetic destiny to run hard, fast, well. I read about their kids’ times in the local newspaper (dead-tree edition!) and think, “Wow.”

And as I remember my two years of high school track, I was not the absolute slowest person on the worst team in the city, and I never got lapped in the half-mile, but that was 40 years ago, so it’s entirely possible that I was and I did.

My Nina, now 14, hasn’t chosen running (yet). She swims.

She has run a few 5Ks only under duress.

That’s okay. I feel like Nina can learn to love running any time in her life.

If not now, maybe between rotations in her medical residency or after she has to do the morning shift at Starbucks on Black Friday.

Nina, at age 10, ran this 5K in 2014 only because the rest of the family was running, too. No choice! She complained mightily, but look at that form!

Of course, how your kid “runs” changes over the years (as does everything else in her life). A “run” for a 5-, 10- or 15-year-old are three entirely different undertakings.

Recently, a boy from Nina’s competitive swim club, who quit swimming to focus on running, did a marathon. A Fairly Big City one. He is 15. His time was 3:47. Nina asked what I thought of that.

I was surprised the Fairly Big City Marathon allowed kids under 18 to participate (the age minimum for the New York City marathon). Presumably he really wanted to do it—you can’t force a 15-year-old to run 26.2 miles unless he really wants to.

Wow. That’s what I think of that.

Running will be there when Nina is ready. We all come to it in our own time and on our own terms.

All that said, we DID run on Thanksgiving, as have every year since 2011. This year “we” included Nina, my boyfriend, Rick, and me; my sister and her boyfriend; and my mother.

My sister’s running club in Reston, Virginia, holds a “family fun run” around the trails of a county park every Thanksgiving. There’s no entry fee, no bib numbers, and the “5k”-ish route is marked with flour arrows, which means those of us not in front might get confused, take a shortcut and run more like 2.5 miles. Oh, well!

Walkers (e.g., my mother) do an out-and-back 2-miler.

Winners are allowed to pick whatever they want from a picnic table loaded with pie, mugs, t-shirts, duffel bags, bottles of wine and whatever else the club president has cleaned out of the club closet.

Aside from the top 3 men and women, prizes go to oddball categories like the first dog, the best turkey hat, the person who traveled the farthest (Carson City, Nevada) and the oldest participant. An 89-year-old dude was sure he had that category sewn up, but my mother, age 90, crushed his dream.

My non-running endurance swimmer shot off the line—as she always does. It took me two miles to catch (and pass) her.

She complained, “I hate running” and waddled around the next couple of days like a cowboy just off a two-month cattle drive from the Texas flatlands to the Arkansas railhead.

Ain’t we got fun?

This sweet down vest keeps Mother Runners warm during Turkey Trots or any other run, for which we are very grateful. Thank you, Dimity and Sarah!

Of course, I do know that a 2.5-ish mile run on the morning of Thanksgiving burns the calories of perhaps a bite of pecan pie. Just. One. Bite.

That didn’t stop me (or anyone in my family) from having some of the pecan pie, the apple/peach pie, the pumpkin pie AND the equal-holiday-opportunity cheesecake for good measure.

The run will be there for us—whenever we’re ready. On Thanksgiving or any other morning, for that matter.


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