-They had so many runners at this years event that they resorted to making additional race bibs out of copier paper! - I look at it this way, my race was so special that my bib was hand crafted!...lol... a true keepsake.
- Marquette Turkey Trot finishers ribbons - 3 years running...no pun intended...
The beat up ribbon on the left was my very first race ever (10K-2009). I carried that ribbon when I ran my first full marathon. That worn ribbon has become a symbol to me of personal courage.
The Marquette, MI Turkey Trot is run every Thanksgiving to benefit a local high school band and has been a tradition in my life to participate in this event. This is the race where my running journey began. The event where I found, for the first time, what it means to have the courage to begin and the will to finish.
This years event was HUGE. Normally the event is sparse, usually 300 or less ( sort of like the 300 Spartans) due to miserable weather, only the really crazy or true die-hard's need apply. The weather this time was unseasonably warm and made for a perfect run. Rough estimates would put the participants at around 700 or so runners but that is not official. For this race, that is amazing.
They ran out of entry forms so the copier machine was smoking to keep up. They ran out of bib numbers so they resorted to making bibs by hand. This was a record turnout to my knowledge.
There were only around 300 finishers ribbons...uh oh.
They announced at the beginning that only the first 300 would get ribbons. I automatically dismissed the idea that I was going to get one this year since I am not fast when I am routinely running and since I havent really been running since October 15th, I knew I was going to be in it for the cookie and apple juice at the end... lol.... There were ALOT of very fit looking people there and I knew I was sunk.
I sold myself short
Long story short, I PR'd my 5K time 38:45. I have never turned anything faster than 43 min during my marathon training.
I felt fantastic, knees didnt hurt, felt energized etc...
The best part of all is that in my mind, I WON that ribbon. I am not a competitor by nature. I automatically dismissed the idea of getting a ribbon since it would require being in the top 50% or better of the runners there to get one. Im not fast, I'm a big, clunky, klutz that slogs along but loves it anyway.
I have basically lived my whole life never really measuring up, which is what I feel has been the driving force behind my distance running. I needed to prove to myself that I have what it takes, that I am not the man I used to be but I have changed. That I am no longer the fat kid in gym class that is picked last, laughed at when it was time to play "shirts and skins", I used to pray that I was on the shirts team. I even played football outside of school but even though I did the training, got bruised up and sore like the rest, spent 99% of my time sitting on the bench because I didnt make weigh in before the game started.
I finished out that season and never put on a jersey again.
I feel that it is this past is what makes me so soft hearted and compassionate. I have been there so much that when I see someone struggling, it is almost like I can read back to them how they are feeling, what they are thinking, and try to help them. That is what drives me. I will never, cant ever, get away from reaching back to someone and giving them a hand up.
Not like I want to be a hero, but there is a driving force that compels me to be to someone else what I never had myself. In a way, it soothes a gnawing feeling of emptiness that i feel sometimes. Back when I was struggling, I longed for someone to lift me up and help me to believe in myself because back then, I didnt have any evidence to support any faith that I could do it.
The best part of the race though was an opportunity to give back to someone else. When I ran my first race in 2009, I was dead last and they had run out of ribbons. The only reason i got that ribbon was that someone had dropped or discarded it and my wife found it and gave it to me. That ribbon may as well had been a 1st place award in my book.
Fast forward to today. After I crossed the line and got mine, there was a woman that was running her second race ever and had beaten her time by 4 minutes. She was a very new runner and I noticed that they had run out of ribbons. She didnt get one.
I found a ribbon when I went to the snack table.
I managed to find that woman in the crowd and gave it to her. I told her congratulations on a race well run, for taking 4 minutes off her time.
What a great feeling. This was a special race indeed.