I wasn’t planning on PRing the half marathon this morning but wound up pulling off a PR at Decker. My loose goal was to run a 1:29-something and PR the course. And then I thought about leaving the 1:30 pace group at mile 8 and going for a 1:27-something.
The legs and lungs were feeling really good early on so I left the pace group at mile 2, ran a 1:25:13, and got 6th place overall and 2nd place in masters.
Decker was the fourth race in the Austin Distance Challenge. Two more races to go. The next one is on January 22nd. I sense another PR around the bend. Training starts tomorrow.
I have a story to tell about a neighborhood Turkey Trot. But before I get into that, an explanation of what a turkey trot is. The turkey trot is usually a fun run, ranging in distance (usually 5 kilometers, or 3.1 miles) that is held on or near Thanksgiving. It’s a celebration of friendship, health, happiness, and a way to burn some extra calories before the traditional big Thanksgiving meals. I don’t know the actual history of the turkey trot but, if I had to guess, it was started by a guy named Jeff somewhere in New England at the turn of one of the past centuries. Jeff wanted an excuse to get out of the house during the annual Thanksgiving family gathering because his sister-in-law had a penchant for expressing her many political opinions and she always brought ambrosia salad with nuts to the family gathering.
I started running in July of 2013. My love of running increased very quickly and I found myself running pretty much every day of the week. On Thanksgiving morning in 2014, I woke up extra early to get in a run in the neighborhood before the rest of the family woke up. I saw a big group of unknown neighbors also out for a run. We all waved and said “Happy Thanksgiving!” from across the street as we passed each other. Those unknown neighbors were endeavoring upon a small turkey trot amongst friends.
The 2014 holiday season passed. More months went by. My love of running continued to thrive. I saw and waved at many other neighbors throughout that year while out on my morning runs. One morning, while running, I decided that I wanted to meet as many of those unknown running neighbors as I could. So I created a Facebook Group and called it the Circle C Run Club. I promoted this new Facebook Group in our larger neighborhood Facebook Group and before I knew it, I had dozens of “members” of this run club.
Since our neighborhood now had a Facebook Group dedicated to running, we kind of organized our own “official” Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot in 2014 and a bunch of running enthusiast neighbors showed up and ran a few miles together. It was grand. We all had a commonality in that we were neighbors and many have since become great friends. The city of Austin has held a really large, organized, and busy Turkey Trot since Jeff moved here from New England at the turn of some other century, raised our property taxes and invented Snapchat, ACL Festival, and absurdly overpriced food served from a truck of questionable origin. However, our neighborhood is rather large, and has enough runners, and otherwise happy and nice people who would prefer to avoid traveling to downtown Austin, finding parking, and risk getting their heels stepped on by an “influencer” on Thanksgiving morning for a chaotic turkey trot. So a smaller and close-to-home turkey trot for the neighborhood has always just made sense.
Over the next few years our Circle C Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot tradition grew and grew. The whole neighborhood really rallied around it and hundreds of folks would get excited about our annual event. We started having neighbors who owned businesses come out and set up tents and give away products and discounts on services. Local businesses would donate snacks and refreshments. Our turkey trot grew organically and it really became a fun and exciting tradition and event.
Now, mind you, our turkey trot was never “official” or truly “organized.” We announced the time and location of our turkey trot on a few Facebook Groups. We never really had permission to organize a “race” (which is kind of how a modern-day, turn-of-some-century traditional turkey trot is organized). We were just a really large group of neighbors and friends coming together on Thanksgiving morning for a group run.
In 2018 our little Thanksgiving morning group run turned into damn near 1,000 people and we overtook a major thoroughfare that goes through our neighborhood. And, wouldn’t you know it, we pissed someone off who really needed to get to the grocery store at 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning for ambrosia salad ingredients.
I’m pretty sure it was Jeff’s sister-in-law. She called the police, the City of Austin, and our neighborhood homeowners association to complain about the gaggle of people who were running, laughing, and having a gay old time on Thanksgiving morning in our neighborhood. So the aforementioned authorities contacted us and told us we could no longer promote or organize our neighborhood’s annual Thanksgiving morning turkey trot and impede traffic without the proper permits, traffic control plans, monitored street barricading, and other things of a costly variety.
So, in 2019, we still held our turkey trot, but we didn’t refer to it as a turkey trot. We just promoted it in our run club’s Facebook group as a normal morning “group run” and hundreds of people still showed up. But it wasn’t as big as the year that we were shut down. And a lot of neighbors were sad that there wasn’t as much pomp and excitement as years prior.
And then there was a pandemic at the turn of some century. I think it started with the ambrosia salad. In recent years our neighborhood run club has really grown to the point where we have a group run almost every day of the week. Many close friendships have been forged and we now have a leadership committee. In early 2021 we decided that we wanted to give our friends and neighbors what they wanted and revitalize our neighborhood turkey trot. We contacted our friends in the larger Austin running community and solicited help and advice on how to organize an “official” turkey trot. And the help and advice came in droves. A small group of us have learned so much about all of the logistics, intricacies, and ins and outs of organizing a true running event.
I’ll spare you all of the details, but will say that we have been working extremely hard for months. And months. And turns of centuries to prepare in bringing an organized Thanksgiving morning turkey trot to our neighborhood. We’ve had to procure engineered traffic control plans, city permits, applications, inspections, and insurance. We’ve had to create street closure notifications in the forms of postcards and posted signage throughout the neighborhood. We’ve had to secure barricading services to close and monitor our streets. We’ve had to hire police officers and race services for timing, scoring, bibs, a start and finish line, and a sound system. We’ve had to solicit sponsors and sell registrations to try to raise the money required to pay for all of the aforementioned requirements, services, products, and vendors.
And the bills have not been cheap. The money required to put on a neighborhood turkey trot could put a child through community college and buy a 2016 Toyota Corolla.
And the people who have been working to organize this Thanksgiving morning tradition have been doing this as a labor of love and commitment to the community. They have full-time jobs, families, children, and other obligations. We have been working extremely hard in our spare time to re-create a fun holiday tradition for our neighborhood. Yours truly has been keeping a turkey’s eye on the financials and it brought me great joy when I was finally able to very recently realize that through generous sponsorships, donations, and our friends and neighbors registering (i.e. paying) to participate in the turkey trot that we’ll be able to barely pay the invoices that are due.
This morning we’re all convening at our neighborhood’s Fleet Feet running store where our friends and neighbors can come pick up their bibs and beautifully-designed commemorative 2022 Circle C Turkey Trot t-shirts in preparation for tomorrow’s first official turkey trot. All of our hard work has culminated to this point. We can finally give the community what we’ve worked so hard to provide for them. Enough people have registered for the turkey trot that participation will rival that of the year where we grew so large that we were forced to shut down.
And at the same time that the doors open this morning for shirt and bib pick-up, we also have to call into a meeting with the City of Austin and the National Weather Service for details and advisement on the large thunderstorm that is expected to roll into Austin at the same time as our turkey trot. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a heavy heart. But I also have hope. I have a lot of hope. I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to this endeavor and I’m blessed to have worked with a bunch of other people who are so amazingly selfless and care so much about our community.
There are only so many things that you can control in this life. We’ll just have to take it in stride with whatever Mother Nature throws at us and what the City mandates. And so long as I have the legs and heart to keep running and share my love and enthusiasm for it, then that’s all I can do.
This morning I was having one of those deep thought moments while I was in the shower. I remembered my short-lived career in pee wee baseball. My parents put me in baseball before I think I even knew what baseball was. The first year or two were dad-pitch seasons. Then we moved up to kid pitch.
I remember being up at bat. The pitch came. I connected. It happened in the blink of an eye. I felt the ball, and then I saw the ball, slowly rolling back toward the pitcher’s mound. But I didn’t swing. It was a close pitch and the ball hit the ring finger on my right hand.
The ball hit the nail on my finger hard enough to reverse direction on impact and roll all the way back to the pitcher’s mound.
I didn’t know what happened. One second I’m watching the pitcher wind up, the ball comes, and then the ball goes. I saw the ball rolling before I realized what’d even happened. The hit. The ball. The confusion. And then the pain.
I think I might’ve been six or seven years old. My coach, my team, and everyone in the stands didn’t know what happened either. We all saw the ball rolling toward the pitcher. I was confused and I was hurt. My coach screamed, “Run!” Everyone on my team screamed, “Run!” My parents screamed, “Run!”
I think I might’ve tried running to first base. I’m pretty sure the pitcher had already sent the ball there. I was just trying to not cry. Blood was pouring from my finger, I was in pain like I’d never felt before, and all I wanted to do was run to my mom in the bleachers so she could stop the pain.
I was out.
And that was the last time that I played baseball.
We finalized the purchase of this little Yaris for Maly this afternoon. I’ve now purchased two vehicles from next door (two different neighbors).
It’s bittersweet how we happened upon this little car. It belonged to Alfonso, who was our next-door neighbor. Unfortunately, Alfonso passed away from pancreatic cancer this past April.
This summer we’ve had the opportunity to get to know Alfonso’s adult children as they’ve been active in managing their dad’s estate. While it was a bit awkward, I asked the siblings if they’d entertain selling their dad’s car to me. I figured it would be one less [big] thing for them to have to deal with, and our daughter will be testing for her driver’s license soon and will need a car. They were quick to agree to my offer. So we’ve slowly spent the better part of 3 weeks emailing from afar (one sibling is in Austin, another in Spain, and another in Hungary) and getting all of the necessary documents in order to complete the sale. This purchase wasn’t terrible, but it’s required a few more hoops through which to jump as we bought the car from an estate versus directly from an individual.
Anyway. It’s a cool little car. 2011 Toyota Yaris with barely 24,000 miles on it. It’s basic. No frills on the inside or out. It’s a little 4-cylinder that gets 35 mpg. I think now that we own it, this’ll light a fire under the kid to practice her driving so she can test for her license.
I had a lot left in the tank. And I’m 100% A-OK with that. I had fun. We had fun.
Tonight Eric, Jacki, Susanna and I ran the Zilker Relays. We also had two other teams from the Circle C Run Club compete. I never thought I’d see the day when teams (multiple) from the club show up to a race.
The Zilker Relays is a 10-mile course in Zilker Park with four runners. Each runner runs 2.5 miles. Yours truly was nominated to run the anchor leg. There were a lot of teams there, but when you set out on the anchor leg of a 10-mile course, there isn’t really anyone to race. I decided I’d shoot for 15 minutes flat. That’s a 6-minute-mile for 2.5 miles.
I came in at 15:23. I didn’t look at my watch after the first mile. I felt settled in and pretty good at that pace. I could have gone harder. I could’ve found another gear. Especially in that last half mile.
I’m okay with that. Our teams were made up of neighborhood friends. None of us set out to hit a certain time or place in our division.
Fifteen minutes was a good, even number to shoot for. I missed it, but I’m 100% confident that I could’ve come in at 14:5X if I’d stayed dialed in and pushed through a couple spots where I’d let off the gas.
Fifteen or so years ago I drilled an eye bolt into our beautiful cedar elm in the backyard. This was so we could hang our clothesline that stretched from the deck. I think Elise used that clothesline twice.
I’ve backed that bolt out a handful of times as the tree has grown. And then one year, I didn’t.
That mighty elm will finish absorbing it for another year or two. Then only the tree and I will know the fate of that old clothesline bolt.
When I woke up this morning, I was having a pretty okay day. The air was crisp and cool this morning for a late-April day in Texas. Nothing overly special about the day. Just sort of a run-of-the-mill nice day.
Bill came back to the house around 10 a.m. because today is the last day that he or Sandy would have access to the house. Bill needed my help unhooking and unplugging the washer, dryer, and refrigerator. And then my mood just did a 180. And I’ve been down in the dumps since. That was the first time that I’d been over there and experienced the finality that is them moving out. The house was completely empty except for the appliances that I was to unplug. It was like turning off life support. I don’t know how to explain it.
Being in their kitchen again. I put the new lights in over the island. Just being there with Bill sitting on the edge of the bay windows as I’m unhooking the washing machine. Being in the backyard again. I’ve spent countless hours and walked miles mowing that yard. Hanging out and talking to Bill in the driveway. Replacing the bulbs in the garage.
We’ve grown close to Bill & Sandy in the last nearly 20 years. I’m probably closer to them than any other neighbor. I actually think Bill was the first neighbor I met when I took a letter over to their house that was accidentally placed in our mailbox.
And it’s kind of dumb, but one of my fondest most recent memories was when we were in for a freeze on a night this past February. I ran across the street to help Bill move some plants inside and he and I just hung out in the foyer and talked. I guess there was just something about him and I out in the cold, taking care of the plants, and then going inside where it was warm and having a chat about probably not much of anything.
I’m just really going to miss the hell out of them. I didn’t realize how important and special the neighbors that live right across the street from you can become. They’re really like family to me.
The end of year lacrosse banquet. While she’s been playing middie, she was awarded MVP Attack for points scored and draw control.
I’m really excited to see how she improves in this upcoming club season, and then the return to Bowie lacrosse as an upperclassman next year.
When I worked for years at Under Armour, they’d always say “we’re just getting started” to the point where it just became numbing. I feel like Maly’s just getting started. I’m hopeful that she steps into a leadership role and helps her high school team fight for a winning record in the 2023 season.
I get choked up when I think about my children growing up so fast, but I remind myself that that’s what life’s about. As parents we celebrate the flame in the torch we pass growing brighter and stronger.
If I could selfishly have my own wish on her birthday it would be that she never outgrows giving me her heartfelt hugs. Those mean more to me than she’ll ever know.
Maly spent her 16th in Boston. When she was born I wasn’t a runner. Her birthday coincides with the Boston Marathon. We did the touristy stuff today. She doesn’t seem to mind spending birthdays in Boston.
Yesterday evening Maly said to me, “we should, you know, get up early and go get breakfast tomorrow.”
I took it as an on-a-whim verbal utterance from my teenager. But I indulged her and asked, “you mean, like, you and me? Or the whole family gets up and we all go get breakfast early somewhere?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I guess the whole family could go.”
I don’t remember what was said after that. I think I might’ve said, “okay.” But the conversation didn’t carry on after that. Maly went to her bedroom and I went about whatever I was going about.
She came to me again later in the evening and said, “I was serious. We should go get breakfast tomorrow morning.”
I’d be lying if I said at that point I wasn’t concerned. The child wants to go out for breakfast on a Tuesday morning. Early. This is a teenager who is at that stage in her life where she’s being thrust into the bad habit of staying up too late and coveting as much sleep in the morning as she can. And now she wants to get up an hour early to go have breakfast with her dad. She’s like me. She’s a morning person. She gets up and she’s on her game. I’m nervous that there’s an important life question. A confession. A proposition. Something sensitive that’s going to require “getting it out the way” before the start of a Tuesday.
I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what it is that she’s going to tell me or ask me. My dad head goes to dark places – like human trafficking and drugs.
She decides on Kerbey Lane at 7:15 a.m.
I fell asleep last night, wondering why we were going to breakfast. I woke up 30 minutes before my alarm and the first thing that came to my head that question of what she was going to ask or tell me.
I heard her alarm at 6:30, and then I could hear her getting ready as I was packing Mara’s backpack.
7 a.m. and she’s standing in the kitchen waiting on me, ready to go on our breakfast date.
And that’s all it was. My first-born child and I went to breakfast together on a Tuesday at 7:15 a.m.
I asked her during the second half of our breakfast if there was anything she needed to ask me or wanted to talk about. “Or, was this just a random breakfast date with your dad?”
“Yep. Just spontaneous.”
The food was terrible. Maly said her ginger pancakes were good though. I was on edge and anxious the majority of the time. I wish I hadn’t been. I wish I would’ve known it was just a spontaneous dad and daughter breakfast. I jokingly asked last night if there was anything big that we were going to be discussing. Like if she was finally going to ask me for a pony. She laughed and said “no.” But you don’t usually say there’s going to be a big question or conversation when there’s a big question or conversation on your agenda. It’s not like you boss says, “Hey, let’s go grab breakfast so we can talk about the big downsizing” if you know absolutely nothing about the big downsizing. Your boss invites you to breakfast like everything’s normal and then he tells you about the layoffs.
I’m unbelievably thankful and blessed to have been invited to a spontaneous breakfast date with my daughter. One day I hope she gets to have that experience.