It was a cold New England morning, maybe around 5 or 5:30 AM. I was up because I’m always up at that time. And, the time was on my mind. I knew that shortly the womenfolk and children would awake, start making noise, and then head down to Main Street a little after 7. They did. And, per my sad usual habit, I merely saw them off. Yes, I shared a parting Mimosa and gifted a loving “get out of here!” but I had missed another one. I missed all of them. Every year.
Just today (today being Sunday, the 24th), I was reminded by the Andover Townsman that Thursday plays host to the 32nd Annual Feaster Five Road Race in Andover. The Townsman warns: “It's that time of year, when certain Thanksgiving guests arrive with a boxed Table Talk apple pie and a hearty appetite. They're hungry after a long run.” Yep, it’s the same race and pie scene Big Tom dodged in chapter twelve of THE SUBSTITUTE. I’m not sure about him, but I almost wish I had ventured out for just one.
The Race Home Site proclaims, honestly: “The Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Road Race in Andover, MA has been a Merrimack Valley tradition since 1988. At 10,000 participants, it is one of the largest races in Massachusetts and one of the largest Thanksgiving day races in New England.”
I was in town, though not on course, for most of the races from 2000 through 2012. About half the time, I would register. This afforded me some cool commemorative long sleeve tee shirts but little else. Sadly, I never made it to the starting line, let alone the finish line. Why? Well, formerly heavyweight Perrin could and did pack away the adult beverages back in the day. Mornings would find me … not in the best running form. Yeah! That sounds better than the truth. I was also usually in search of coffee, with or without Bailey’s (generally with), those Mimosas, or a Bloody Mary. In my defense, someone had to hang around the house to keep the fire going and prep the turkey for dinner. Selflessness is next to laziness.
You can gather that I have a few regrets about the yearly debacles. It would never happen now. And, the irony of ironies, now that I’m 80 pounds fitter and 3% more responsible, nearly everyone I once knew has removed from the town. No matter. Next year, or the year after, or sometime in the indeterminant future, I’m going back for a mulligan. This year, I’ll either take a stroll in the woods or hit the gym. I trust all of you will make similar commitments to fitness.
- Run the Five yourself (if time and distance allow);
- Other places have road races too;
- Stalk the woods with me;
- The gym;
- The MMA ring;
- The range;
- Cigar Long Ash Contest; and/or,
Then, partake of the other favorites:
- Watch other men’s athleticism on the TeeVee;
- Also on the tube, see Big Bird and other foolishness in Manhattan;
- Mimosa, it’s what’s for breakfast;
- Black Friday or Thursday(!);
- Humor the young;
- Do the dishes; or just,
- Sing along with Arlo:
As a final holiday thought, consider that Andover Classic Wines … excuse me, ANDOVER LIQUORS hasn’t been the same since they gave Rich the shaft. Yes, some of us remember. I, for one, can remember going in on Thanksgiving morning with Rich, when the store was closed, to reload for turkey night.