Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's a long one...

Déjà Vu. The older I get its happening more and more... Seventeen years ago, I woke up on Thanksgiving morning and joined the other kids from my youth group to work the first Annual Ashburn Farm 10k Run. Back then, the money didn't go to the Humble place in Uganda, but it went to the youth of the church... In other words, our broke a$$ fifteen member strong youth group. Times were different then- We'd meet and pile into a youth leader's 4-runner and go "four wheeling" through the construction sites of Ashburn Farms. We would have car washes and do cartwheels down Route 7 to get people to stop- as in busy Route 7. We would have lock-ins where the cops were called because we were pillow-fighting outside at three in the morning. We turned my parent's barn into a haunted house to raise money. That was the night I was introduced to my best friend Ashley by the pastor's wife. I saw Ash as the obnoxious, loud, new southern girl in my social studies class. Who knew that after a night where my head was stuck through a cardboard box and she was the witch that took the pot off my head saying, "Look what's for dinner" that we'd be besties for life... But that's what youth group did. It brought a group of kids together to make lifelong memories. It was a place where people from all different cliques could come together as one. I can honestly say that I didn't learn much scripture... and to this day I love reading bible stories to my children because I'm learning the stories along with my kids... But youth group taught me more than anything. Now granted, 90% of the time I might have been there for all the wrong reasons... or so that I could go on the annual ski trip- and truth be told, I probably only showed up early in the morning to hang out with the boys instead of truly volunteering… but looking back, youth group gave me lifelong friendships. And to this day I even look up to some of my old counselors. And that Thanksgiving morning (along with countless other youth group memories) was a morning I'll always remember.

In 1996, I was a freshman at Virginia Tech. I managed to gain the dreaded "freshman 15" in the first two months, and my mom was brutally on my case about it. I really think my mom bribed me with money to run the Thanksgiving Day 10K with my dad hoping it would help us both lose weight. My mom still has the picture of my Dad and me crossing the finish line in her house. I will always remember that day because it became much more than my mom’s effort to inspire me to lose weight. After years of me being a holy terror to my dad, after going away to college, we both realized how much we loved each other. Sometimes, absence really does make the heart grow fonder. We ran the race together and crossed the finish line holding hands, and without saying a word, we knew we loved each other and for the first time in years we felt a sense of peace. It had been years since I had been in a room with him without rolling my eyes or snapping back with an obnoxious comment- and achieving a goal together put us back on track the the relationship we have today. I'm sure after the race, I fed my face as usual and probably looked at my mom as I piled butter on my roll in a snide way, but for that very moment during the 10k, it was a Thanksgiving morning I'll always remember.

As a college senior, I mentored a young girl that was in foster care. I must have moved her from foster home to foster home at least four times in six months. But I loved this little girl. She was a teen and reminded me so much of myself. At my wedding, I had asked her to help cut the cake... and when it came time for her duty, she wasn't around... She was off in the field doing who knows what with our wild teenage neighbor. I really don't even want to know. As you can tell, I was a great mentor.:) I kept in touch with her, and challenged her to train for a run on Thanksgiving morning. I promised her that I would come back and run it with her. She held up her end of the deal, and we ran the two mile fun run. She was sooo proud of herself. And I was too. And that was a Thanksgiving morning that I'll always remember.

Fast forward to this week. I had registered for the Ashburn Farm 5k. I started training for it about four weeks ago, and I must say- I was so excited for it to come. For once, I had actually worked for it. I did my outdoor runs and put in hours on the stinkin' treadmill. And let me tell ya how humbling it is to go from an athlete to someone that really has to work to just finish three miles. It sucks. But it's oh so true. When you work for something, the end result is that much better. I broke thirty minutes and came in 9/35 for my age group. I was still slow as molasses (Yes, I occasionally speak country. I say "pull your britches up, turn off the spicket, and if you asked me what we were having for dinner today, I might have replied "hog's ass and hominy" just as my Nanny once did.), but I ran. I ran the entire race without a break. In fact, at the end, I saw a boy I went to high school with... and I busted my butt to pass him- and I didn't even care that he could see that I had wet my pants. I met up with a blog friend and we went to the race together, and it was so much fun. The scale might not have moved much this week, but I met a goal- and worked hard for it. I was proud of myself and felt pride that this wasn’t another race that I signed up for and then didn’t run. It wasn’t something I talked about doing, I did it. And at the end of the day, it was a morning I'll always remember.

Déjà vu. Or shall I say Thanksgiving morning tradition. I know where I’ll be on Thanksgiving morning next year.:)

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