104th annual turkey day race

i promised my mom a few weeks back that i would run this long-standing new orleans tradition with her. when i was a baby, she and my dad (and my older brother) lived within walking distance of the park, so this used to be a semi-regular tradition for her. today, we live a little further away and she's had a few more injuries than two-decades back so she hadn't run the race in quite some time. in fact, she hadn't run five-miles more than once in the year or two leading up to today's race.

after getting in the night before, we bundled into the car bright and early (mom and i, with dad chaperoning) and made the trek into the city for the race. after picking up our packets, we milled around tad gormley (the stadium) while i reminisced about years and years of track meets and soccer games inside it, while she reminisced about the time her sister got to see the beatles right before they got huge but she couldn't because she wasn't old enough.

and then we ran into my old high school cross country coach—an old curmudgeon, but possibly one of my favorite people in the world—and caught up for a few minutes before heading to the start line. i positioned myself somewhere near the 1/3 of the crew while my mom headed to the back (which, turns out, she would later regret and spent the rest of the day moaning about the people barricading her with their strollers.... hah!).

it really was a perfect day—not a cloud in the sky and perfect weather. in fact, the weather was so nice that they overshot their expected turnout and ended up having something like 3,000 runners, some dressed as turkeys, a pairs as M&M's (don't ask) and most people just out looking to burn off some pre-thanksgiving calories.

as for the race itself, i started out on a good pace (although a tad aggressive—somewhere mid-6s), which i would later regret as my week of biking came back to haunt me. the first mile or two was way too forced for my leaden legs and i slowly faded to manage some pretty impressive positive splits. who needs to negative split when you can enjoy getting passed by the first fifth of the field? kidding... although it was definitely frustrating to try and find that higher gear but only have your legs refuse. never again will i dismiss the power of a good taper and rested legs. i came in around 37:00, meaning mid-7 splits, which (for me) is good enough for a random off-season run.

as i finished, i got a personal shout-out from my former cross-country coach—although since i was on the verge of puking (remind me never to have just coffee for pre-race fuel), i didn't know whether to smile and wave or cower. of course i smiled and waved, stumbled across the finish and then bee-lined for the water and bananas.

afterwards, i jogged back to the far end of the track to cheer on runners as they finished. i got there with a few minutes to spare as my mom kicked it up a gear and gritted in a sprint to the finish. have to admit—it very impressive. pretty good for a mother-daughter duo!

after the race, i was joking with my mom about the 400-person-deep line for beer, when i laughed "only in new orleans, right?!" and she seemed shocked that other cities didn't have a beer truck serving after every race at 9:30am.

we went home, showered, commenced the thanksgiving-ing.... and now I'm pooped and couch-bound (along with this little lady):