Our theme for the month of November is “the periodic table.”
About fifteen years ago, I made a very important promise to myself: I will never (ever, ever) run a Turkey Trot again.
To this day, I still don’t know how I was convinced to run it in the first place. I have never been a runner; I may even be an anti-runner, if that’s a thing you can be. But my friend signed up for the race with my family, and I didn’t want to pass up a quasi-playdate, even if it involved exercise. Plus, we were promised cinnamon bagels afterwards (a bribe, I should have known).
On the morning of the race, I was ready. I had a banana for breakfast to gain energy and balance my inevitable potassium loss via sweat. The course even started down a hill—such a promising sign!
At first, it was actually enjoyable to run as a group. I momentarily understood why people choose running races as a weekend activity. The comradery! The matching shirts! The friendly waving people at water stations! The hilarity of a person dressed in a full-body turkey costume running a 5K!
But then we started trailing behind the group. My friend Maddie—gem that she is—was kind enough not to leave me in the dust. We maintained a slow jog side by side through our neighborhood as I wondered how people manage to talk and run at the same time. Absolute wizards. Meanwhile, I was gasping for air, wiping sweat from my forehead despite the freezing temperatures.
Finally, after what felt like decades, the finish line was in sight. I kept putting one foot in front of the other, but I could feel my body shutting down. With each step, I was filled with more dread; my stomach wasn’t going to let me finish the race. The banana I’d eaten for breakfast was coming back to betray me.
My mom was running a few yards ahead of Maddie and me, definitely in earshot but completely in her zone (she’s one of those mystical runner-types). I tried to yell for her, but it only came out as a squeak, and my fate was unavoidable. I veered off the street and leaned over my neighbor’s yard, regretfully meeting my breakfast again. (To this neighbor many years later: I sincerely apologize. I promise I will never run a 5K again—for both your sake and mine).
Despite my effort, my mom didn’t hear the call for help. To perfectly capture the moment, the photo of my mom crossing the finish line includes me in the background, having lost the battle with my stomach and undoubtedly scarring fellow turkey-trotters for life.
Once she realized the chaos ensuing behind her, my mom sprinted back to us and walked me the rest of the way to the finish line. I still enjoyed my Cinnamon Crunch Panera bagel. My dad—the true winner of this Turkey Trot—brought the race to a close by crossing the finish line at a leisurely pace, walking and chatting with the turkey itself.
Olivia graduated from Calvin in May 2018 with a double major in business and writing. She now works as an editor in Nashville, Tennessee and is eating her way through the restaurants of her new town. She enjoys weekend trips with friends, petting other people’s dogs, and drinking coffee like a Gilmore Girl.