Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekend Recap: Food, Friends, and Fun Running

I can't think of many things more special than sitting around a table of loved ones, with heaps of delicious food on my plate, taking turns saying what we're all thankful for. And I can't think of many things I'm more thankful for than my health and my ability to sweat. In the past three days, I did little more than those things and it made for quite an amazing weekend.

The amazingness started Friday night, at Babescout Thanksgiving, made from scratch by Sarah and Nikki. The Babescouts are my group of five work friends who don't all work together anymore but continue to share our lives. Along with feasting, talking, and laughing a ton, we went around the table and shared what we are thankful for, focusing on the friendships that the five of us share. And we cried.

This is how we dress for Katy Perry concerts, not for thanksgiving dinners.

On Saturday, afternoon, in a pumpkin pancake food coma, I showed up at my favorite workout place, Wilson High School, for what may have been my last soccer game of the season. For the first time, our team had a chance to make the playoffs but the team playing before us had to lose and we had to win in order to make that happen. Sure enough, the team we needed to lose did so our fate was in our own hands.

It was sunny and chilly when our game started and something just felt right. We were all on and our passing was pretty. We scored an early goal and held a lead until the last minute of the first half, when the other team scored in return. We came back with two goals in the second half and won 3-1. At this time last year, we celebrated winning one game all season long and now we have made it to the playoffs. The terribly unfortunate news is that our (one, maybe two) playoff games are scheduled on the same morning as the Hot Chocolate 15k, which I have been registered for, and excited about, for three months. I will be really upset to miss either so I'm going to try everything I can to commit myself to both.

The rest of Saturday, I ate food, watched football and movies, had a face-time party with Josh's Florida friends, and cooked for the shelter. I went to sleep early and was up at 8 am Sunday to begin my next sweaty adventure. I had agreed to run Fleet Feet's five mile fun run with Nikki and Jamey at 9 am. I met them at the store and we started out with the group. This was my first time joining a running group and it was fun.

Sean, store owner and leader of the run, called it the Church of the Open Road and I knew right away that this, like frisbee, was a Sunday morning tradition I could get on board with. There were probably about 20 people, of all ages and abilities participating and we all stayed together for the first half of the run to the Lincoln Memorial where we sat for a picture. On the way back we ran through Rock Creek Park and everyone split up to go at their own pace. The route ended up being 6.3 miles so, with my 1.5 mile "commute", I ran a total of 7.77 miles at a 9:11 pace. This was the longest I've run since Baltimore and it felt really good. I know I could have run faster and that boosts my confidence for Thursday's race.

One major perk of this fun run, was the even more fun [free] brunch at the store that followed. As a "thank you" to their runners, Fleet Feet hosts a thanksgiving brunch after this November fun run each year. Did I deserve a "thank you" for all my dedication to Fleet Feet over the past year? Probably not. But will I be back for more fun runs, merchandise, and maybe even training groups, in the future? Hell yes.

Mimosas not pictured. But we drank them.

In the spirit of giving thanks, Nikki and I headed to her apartment, where our boyfriends were waiting for us with a 20lb bird and a cozy apartment. We were kind of co-hosting an annual Sunday-before-Thanksgiving potluck dinner, which our friends would be showing up for in the next six hours. We spent the afternoon cooking, lounging, and turning the living room into a festive dining space. The sun set, the apartment heated up, and the wine flowed. Thirteen of our friends arrived and we all sat around a lovely makeshift banquet table to taste each others' homemade favorite family recipes, talk about life, and share what we're all thankful for. Again, we focused on friends and living in DC and, again, I almost cried.

I really can't think of a better weekend than one that centers around food, friends, and fun running. When you're not sure whether you've burned or consumed a more massive amount of calories, I'd say you've been successful. Which is exactly why I plan to run a 10k and play football on Thursday before eating Thanksgiving Dinner #3. And, more than anything, I am really looking forward to going around a table and giving thanks for things that focus on family.

How was your weekend? Have you ever run with a running group? Do you only eat one Thanksgiving dinner or do you prefer to make the holiday last all week?

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