Sunday, December 01, 2013

The Santa Barbara Turkey Trot 4-Miler...with Sophie!

I had a new running partner for the annual Santa Barbara 4-Miler Turkey Trot this year...Sophie, my 7-year-old daughter! Despite having only run a mile once before, she said she was game this year. I thought I was going to burst with excitement. I have always wondered when and how one of my girls might join in for a race, and all it took was the promise of free powdered doughnuts!

(Sophie is ready to run!)
We started off with a few sprinkles of rain as a record 700 runners filled Hollister Avenue to get their Trot on. The Turkey Trot is quickly becoming a national phenomenon, topping out at 800,000 participants last year (25,000 in San Jose, CA alone) and possibly crossing 1 million this year. The SB Turkey Trot was no exception, already 7-8 times bigger than my first running over a decade ago. But thanks to a nervous Sophie at my side, it felt like my first! She took the rain in stride, using it as an excuse to wear as much pink as possible.

(Sophie joins the fun! Check out those inov-8 x-talons...size 2!)
Running beside Sophie was such a joy, and if I smiled any harder I was likely going to break my face. Such a thrill! We jogged along at a steady pace, enjoying the costumes around us, and took our first walk break at mile 1. A 10:30 min/mile...I was so impressed! By mile 2, she had shed nearly all of her clothes (making Daddy the sherpa) and took to the trails aside the bike path. "Trails feel faster, Daddy". Chip off the ole block, I tell ya. 

(Turkey hats rule!)
(Sophie sheds a layer and takes to the trails!)
(Thank you, thank you, thank you photo gods for this one - grandparents, prints are on their way!)
By mile 3, Sophie was a panting mess, but pressed on, determined not to be last. She swore she would never do this again, and I told her that all runners say that at least once in every race and forget all the hard parts immediately after crossing the finish line. Once she smelled the doughnuts, she sprinted to the finish and right on through to the snack line. I think she ate three before taking a breath, and the powdered sugar soon covered her face like a culinary explosion. She dropped a handful of sweat-sticky doughnuts into my palms, and we plopped down and easily negated all the calorie burn of our 53 minute 4-miler with a blur of NOM-NOM-NOM.

(Hooray for Sophie!)
(Doughnuts never tasted so good)
By the time we headed to the car, Sophie was already talking about coming back next year. She busted up laughing and said "you're right, Daddy! I have already forgotten all the hard parts. That's so cool." I think she's hooked!

Papa (my Dad) said it best...I've got maybe 12 years tops before Sophie Jane leaves me in the dust. A little more than a decade before she desperately asks me to take down this post so sports journalists and would-be boyfriends stop linking to it and making jokes about powdered doughnuts (never!). I sigh knowing I likely have less than two years before holding hands with Daddy on walk breaks isn't cool anymore. As eager as I am to see how she blossoms, my heart already clutches fiercely at these fleeting moments. I guess that's what parenting is all about. 

...and we'll keep our eyes on Quinn for the kids race next year! ;-)

(A very stylish 3-year-old Quinn chills with Martha - you're next, kid!)
(Toddlers take on the kids race!)
Happy Thanksgiving, all!

- SD


  1. I can fully appreciate what you felt running with your daughter for the first time... I ran for the first time with 8 year old daughter back in March; taking in a muddy wet trail (which she loved), having asked to try one of my 'muddy runs' that she's seen all the finishers medals and race numbers for. She loved it so we entered our village 3.5mile race together and it was with great pride I ran beside her grinning from ear to ear, encouraging her onwards when she was finding it hard, until we got to near the finish line when she sprinted off like a greyhound out of the traps!... Yesterday we completed a 10km run together... I think you know its only a matter of time before your lass will be out with you on a 'proper' run!

  2. This is so cool - savor it! I love that she opted for the dirt when she had the opportunity. I remember running a race with my granddaughter at about that age and she told me, a bit before the finish, that she wanted to do a cartwheel across the finish line. And she did - I've got no idea where that came from, but I love it when kids have fun with these races.

  3. Turkey trots seem to be the time to get out and race with the kids... and it's fun, especially when I know the folks involved. You can see the parents' pride, and the kids developing. Maybe they will be runners, maybe not, but they are having fun.

    Your kid is going to be faster than me in about two years.

    And oddly enough, I think I know why trails seem fast because I've thought about it: you're closer to the trees and stuff on trails, so it seems to whiz by. On wide open paths and and streets, I feel like I'm in a bad dream where I'm running in place. Very perceptive!

  4. This is fantastic. These are the moments that make people want to have children! So cute.

  5. Cute! And what a way to connect while you were in town. I can't wait to see the first three-Dunlap-generation marathon! And I like how you don't care anymore of being... chicked (as opposed to a few other stubborn males... ;-).

  6. Love all the pics, and most of the all the one of her crossing the finish line in jubilation! So fabulous.

  7. Good stuff Scott, I am eagerly waiting for my 3 year old daughter and hopes that she will be interested!

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  9. Another epic adventure! Thanks for sharing it. Especially loved "and if I smiled any harder I was likely going to break my face."

  10. From experience it will be 6 years before she leaves you in the dust. She will get faster and you will get slower. Enjoy the fun while you are still faster than Sophie.


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