Running: Thanksgiving 5k

On the way to the Drumstick Dash 5k:

Amanda: My goal is to run a sub-30 minute 5k, but I’ve already decided that if I don’t it’s ok because I had a baby three months ago.

Tom: Well. Three and a half months.

The Kriegers and the Southalls started Thanksgiving off with the Drumstick Dash. An alternative name for the race could be “Amanda’s Comeback Race.”

Not “comback” as in, “Amanda’s really fit and fast and ready to RACE”. But “comeback” as in, “Look! We made it to a race! On time! With a baby!”

Back when I was 20-something weeks pregnant I ran a 5k. Less than a half mile from the finish line I mentioned to my running partner that one of my fitness goals is to always be able to run a sub-30 minute 5k. When we rounded to corner to the finish line I was surprised to see we hit my goal. I had the same goal for this race. I knew it was doable, but wasn’t sure if I’d do it.

My parents walked with David, Tom’s parents walk/ran and my brother ran with Tom and me.

I expected a small, local race. I did not expect 14,000 runners and four Porta-Johns at the start. That’s right. Four. That’s one toilet per 3,500 people.

There were also no wave starts and no corrals. 14,000 runners. That all adds up to total mayhem.

Pre-race faces:

When the race started people poured onto the course from all directions. I felt like I was in an apocalyptic movie rushing to escape the city instead of running a 5k.

What the race lacked in organization it made up for in race support. There were bands…

…spectators cheering…

…and Thanksgiving spirit everywhere.

There were also hills. Gentle inclines, gradual slopes, and even one surprise steep hill. These might not have bothered me a few years ago when I lived in hilly Blacksburg. Or even before that when I ran on Franklin County’s mountain roads. But I live in Richmond now. If you want to run hills in Richmond you actually have to go looking for them.

In the middle of mile three we were running a long, gentle hill. My brother looked at me and said, “Do you feel like you’re sucking cold metal?” Yes, that’s exactly how I felt.

My brother ran beside me the whole time. Tom planned to, but I knew my pace would be tough for him. He darted somewhere between me and 20 feet in front of me for most of the race.

I hit the first mile in 9:54. S.L.O.W. By mile two I resigned myself to the reality that I wasn’t going to hit my goal. But also by mile two I’d settled into a pace. We crossed the two-mile mark in 18 minutes, back on target. (Meanwhile, the race winner had been done for three minutes.) I buckled down to finish mile three and call it a day.

Mile three featured a long.slow.hill. The course wrapped around city blocks, so as I ran the hill (that I might not have even noticed a few years ago) I could see that I was about to turn a corner and run downhill to the finish line.

When I turned the corner, this is what I saw.


Of course, photos don’t always express heartbreak. What you’re looking at is a short, STEEP hill. When I saw it I cursed and vowed to only run races in cities at sea level.

But I made it, as (somehow) I always do. The downhill finish was sweet, and I finished with time to spare: 29:02. Even though we were holding hands over the line, Tom beat me at 29:01. Typical. (Do I need to remind you I was pregnant for 41 weeks and he was pregnant for zero weeks?)

After our victorious finish, we went back to find the rest of our group out on the course.

Tom ran his dad through the finish line, and my brother and I found my parents dutifully racing with the stroller.

Eventually we all (everyone except Tom’s mom, she was looking for us at the finish line) met up on the course to finish together.

In case you’re wondering whether the crowd had thinned at the finish…

No wonder Peggy couldn’t find us.

With the race behind us, David had some time with his fan club.

David’s first 5k, my dad’s first 5k, and my first 5k as a mama.

(It was also Tom’s first 5k as a dad, but I think the marathon sort of dwarfs that milestone.)


  1. Kristie November 29, 2011

    Aw. And it’s almost like I was there because David got to wear his penguin suit. Yay, family!

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