Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  I love spending time with my family and friends back home, kicking off the holiday season and of course the food.  For the past several years the weekend has begun with the same tradition.  I drive home to Connecticut on Wednesday to meet my friend Barbara from high school for lunch and shopping.  We think the routine goes back as far as 6 years but it could be more and we haven’t missed a year in a long time.  This year we met at Tarry Lodge (delicious!) in Westport and then drove downtown to do a little shopping.  Sometimes this is the one time during the year we get to spend time together and catch up but it never feels like much time has gone by at all.  It’s always that way with a close friend.

My next stop was picking up my bib number for the annual Commodore Hull Thanksgiving Day 5k, another important tradition for my Thanksgiving weekend.  In 2002 I had just started training for my first marathon and was looking for a local turkey trot for Thanksgiving.  As luck would have it, Shelton was holding their very first Thanksgiving race and I signed up.  A full decade later and I haven’t missed one year of the race.  I am a proud member of the ‘Plankholders’, the 27 runners who have participated every year.

The 27 CHTDRR Plankholders

The race starts at 8:00 am Thanksgiving morning so Mom, Dad, Brittany and I headed down the street to the Farmers Market in downtown Shelton.  I wanted to get there early to do a short warm up and they were getting all of the Plankholders together at 7:45 for a group photo.  The race has grown to 700 runners (doubled since 2002) so I try to start close to the line for an accurate race time.  When the gun went off I felt pretty good.  I wasn’t sure how this race was going to go since I am still fresh off the Manchester Marathon and haven’t been running consistently yet since then.  I promised myself 8 weeks off from distance or too much speed so I wasn’t sure what my legs would be capable of.  I set a goal of a 7:30 pace which would be close to what I ran last year and ideally give me a top 3 spot in my age group.  In the past, the temperature has been appropriately pretty cold for this race but the sun was warm on Thursday morning and I was able to breathe easily.   I kept a consistent 7:30 pace for the first mile even as we headed up hill into Derby.  I slowed down a little bit as we continued up the hill but was able to pick it back up again after the half way turn around as we headed back down into Shelton.  I pushed through the last mile knowing I was on track for my goal and crossed the finish line at 23:18 – exactly a 7:30 pace.  I have placed several times for this race and we have never stayed for the awards ceremony but since it was a nice day and Brittany was behaving we stuck around.  I proudly accepted my Commodore Hull Thanksgiving Day 5k hat (it has a 2 on the side) and they took my picture with the race directors.

2nd Place in Age Group!

We spend Thanksgiving with my mother’s side of the family.  She is the oldest of four and while they have their quirks and differences, they are very close and have nothing but love for one another.  There were eleven at the dinner table including a guest that my Aunt Addie invited. Tak is visiting from Japan to train with Addie’s company for a couple of months before he goes back to work at their Tokyo office.  She felt bad that he would be spending Thanksgiving alone in a hotel room and invited him to experience the holiday with us.  We weren’t certain what to think of this at first and definitely not sure we were the best representation of a family Thanksgiving but it was really fun to have him there.  He spoke English much better than we anticipated and he seemed to enjoy the meal and conversation.  My cousin tried to explain football to him but Tak proudly replied that he knew about football and even played it in Japan.  We gave him a ton of leftovers to enjoy over the weekend and probably some great anecdotes to share with his friends back home.

Mom and her beautiful Thanksgiving Dinner table setting.

I was able to relax most of the remainder of the weekend.  I exercised a little bit with a hike on Friday with Jared’s family and a short run Saturday morning.  My Mom and I ignored the shopping frenzy but did pick out our 2012 Christmas Tree ornaments and a few little decorations for my apartment.  Saturday afternoon/ night I watched four (FOUR!) Christmas movies.  I started with Four Christmas’ with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn – who are both adorable and I could watch them read the phone book.  My mother requested we see what sappy Christmas movies were on lifetime and we were all sucked in for the next several hours.  We started with a movie where Linda Hamilton plays a woman whose husband leaves her and then she gets mugged so she has to live in her car but soon becomes a real estate agent and gets a cute doctor boyfriend so by Christmas she’s just fine.  The next movie starred Jennifer Grey (it always takes me a while to realize it’s her since her face is totally different than when she was in Dirty Dancing).  She plays a woman desperate to get to Aspen for her wedding to an Italian guy and ends up hitching a ride with the guy from The New Adventures of Old Christine and Ironman (my mother tells me they are married in real life).  I’m going to call it No One Puts Baby in a Pick Up truck.  I actually fell asleep watching this movie so I’ll have to find it on Lifetime again this season.  Something tells me she falls in love with the Pick up truck guy before she makes it to Aspen.  The fourth movie was an updated version of Little Woman starring Julie Berman who I know (LOVE) on General Hospital as Lulu Spencer.  She played Jo and the movie followed her and the 3 other sisters redecorating their house while their parents are away.  It was not nearly as romantically tragic as the actual Little Woman story (spoiler alert – Beth doesn’t die-??) and at the end Jo gets a book deal for writing about their family.  I started to watch a fifth movie about a little girl who is orphaned when her mother gets hit by a truck but I opted to go to sleep instead.

I finished off the weekend by taking Brittany to the Shelton Dog Park to run around a bit before we got back in the car for the ride home.  There were a few other dogs there for her to run around with including Tessa, who was a golden retriever/ wheaten terrier mix that her owner adopted just last week.  They lost their 13 year old Golden in the spring and finally felt ready for a new pup.  Tessa is believed to be about a year old and was found under a bridge in Arkansas.  Starving under a bridge in Arkansas one day; rescued in Westport, CT the next – now that’s a dog who has something to be thankful for!

I too have much to be thankful for and glad I had an opportunity this past weekend to reflect on how blessed I really am by spending time with the people I love, using my healthy body to race and enjoy the simple things like playing with my dog.   Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

**Only one more race on the calendar for 2012!  After the drama of my fall marathon, the fun of the MSPCA Run Fur Fun and the tradition of the Commodore Hull 5k  maybe it’s time to race.  We’ll see how the legs feel come Dec 9 for the Winter Classic.

More Photos from the 11th Annual 2012 Commodore Hull Thanksgiving Day 5k Road Race:

Brittany and I before the race
With Shelton Mayor, Mark Lauretti, who is also a ‘plankholder’. He beat me in 2004 but never again.