By Katherine Wright

It’s freezing cold, you’re surrounded by a group of people who swear by the runner’s high, you’re wearing a neon yellow shirt labeled “Turkey Trot 2019” and the only thing that stands in the way between you and an all-you-can-eat feast is a 3.1 mile run. 

Simple enough, really. 

Except when it’s not. Thanksgiving 2018 was my first year participating in a so-called “Turkey Trot,” the name of which cleverly manipulates alliteration to disguise itself as a cute little jog to ultimately force its way into your family’s traditions. Now that I have been dragged here two years in a row, we’re coming dangerously close to annual repetition and I’m afraid of what neon color they’re going to choose for next year’s shirt. 

At 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving day, decked out in my Turkey Trot gear and a bad attitude, I came to a profound realization: I did not like this.  

Maybe it was the outfit, or the time of day, or the weather. Or maybe it was the hardcore runners who were jogging around the route to warm up, ready to leave their families in the dust and claim their turkey-shaped trophies as decoration for their Thanksgiving table. But it didn’t matter what the reason was. I was still standing in an elementary school parking lot waiting to start a 5k in my winter jacket and neon yellow t-shirt. 

As much as I complained, it really wasn’t so bad. They had people cheering encouraging words and the path was decorated with funny, motivating signs — with the exception of one that said “No, you are not almost done.” That one hit where it hurts.

At the very least, it wasn’t as cold as last year and I crossed the finish line to receive my well-deserved participation trophy. It was a rewarding feeling, minus the pity-cheers of people who finished the race over 30 minutes ago. 

It wasn’t so bad. Which does not mean I need this to become a family tradition, and I am yet to experience this so-called “runner’s high,” but it felt good to cross the finish line and spend the rest of the day baking pies and making cranberry sauce. Coming from a non-runner who was completely defeated by every middle school mile-run, that’s certainly the best compliment in the world.