By ELIZABETH BASTIAN, Managing Editor
As stupid, trivial, or strange as it may sound, the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot in downtown Detroit has always been special to me.
While I started running in my junior year of high school, I did not participate in an actual race until the 2010 Turkey Trot my freshman year of college. At that point, I had never run the 10K (6.2 miles) I had signed up to race; the farthest I had ever gotten was five miles. In fact, at the beginning of the school year, I had never run more than a 5K! That all changed on the first day of Cross Country Club practice, on which I kept up with members of the club and inadvertently traversed over four miles around campus.
Running the Trot that year was proof that I could do something I myself would never have believed I could do, that I was stronger than I thought I was. I finished in under an hour (my original goal) and had a fantastic time doing it with my team.
The following year, I was in the best shape I had ever been in. Most of the time, I do not go “all out” for road races, and the 2011 Turkey Trot was no exception to this rule. But I shaved more than six minutes from my 2010 time, even with the crowds of thousands and maneuvering around a few slow pokes. I had improved immensely, and I could not have been happier.
But this year is different.
I have been dealt with several injuries this past year that have affected my running in one way or another. The most recent one resulted in my taking about a month off from the sport altogether. Although I did not go completely cold turkey (being the addict that I am), I knew that I had to force myself to take a real break if I truly wanted to continue to run. This is something I want to do for the rest of my life, and I do not want this plan to be derailed because I was an idiot when I was 20.
I have slowly been easing myself back into a regular running routine, accompanied by lots (LOTS) of stretching, yoga, cross-training, and physical therapy twice a week. I have not run more than four miles in over a month, having signed up for this year’s 10K before I got re-injured. But I am still planning on running it, being the typical stubborn running addict that I am.
I want to prove to myself that I can still do it, that I can beat my time from last year. And even if that goal is unattainable, I want to be able to be proud of myself. This is a true test of strength and of health. This is my reward for taking it easy. This is proof that an injury (or two, or three) cannot break me.
This is my tradition.
So whether you are parked on the couch watching football, or waking up at 5 in the morning to sprint through the cold, be proud of yourself. Be proud of your hometown, and of your family, and of the people who made you.
And then go eat some turkey and doze into the greatest food coma of the year.