Holidays in the Tout household have always been an adventure.  With five children my parents always had their hands full, and, on occasion, still do.  There was the Christmas that my brothers got in a fist fight over a radio station and came inside covered in blood.  Only to be overshadowed by the year my brother put my dad, who is 6’4 and about 290lbs, in a sleeper hold with a house full of people and he went down like a ton of bricks splitting his head open. This year, though mildly tamer as 3 of us are hovering in or around our 30s, was no different.  This was the year of the “Turkey Day Dash.”

The five of us will compete over anything. It doesn’t matter what the topic is–something as simple as who has the least amount of grey hair (which is me), can easily end up as a down and dirty fist fight. So when I brought up the fact that I could beat any one of my siblings in a race, things got heated fast.  It started Wednesday night when drinks were flowing and we all were feeling overly confident.  I told the boys that they were getting fat and there was no way they could beat me in any race. I fibbed a little and told them my average pace was a 6 minute mile. JT one-upped me and said his was 5:30. Obnoxiously, I went on to show my Ironman™ tattoo as a reminder of what I had done and they had not.  The bantering went back and forth until we eventually passed out for the night.

Thanksgiving morning for me came like any other, with a mild headache and a short 5 mile run.  I got back to my house ready to cook, shower, and enjoy the day…until my brother JT showed up.  With a stale light beer in hand, we picked up where we left off the night before. We decided to make this theoretical race the real deal. After much discussion we finally settled on a course of his choosing. We would do a 1 mile sprint down the hill to the coffee shop. My other brother, CT, would stand at the bottom, video the event, and be the official judge. The first person to slap his hand would be the winner.

With the course and race details set, we began to prepare. I, of course, mentioned that I had already run up hill 5 miles and had just completed the Philadelphia Marathon 4 days prior; when I won it would be a major disgrace. JT, a Division I wrestler in his college days, began to prep for the event. He went upstairs to see if he was able to find the proper attire and asked his girlfriend to “fetch” his shoes from the car. He came downstairs fully decked out, wearing CT’s American Wrestling singlet, one of my long sleeve half marathon t-shirts, and a pair of wool skiing socks. He corrected his girlfriend on the shoes she grabbed him, saying “Jesus, honey not these–they have no grip.  Are you trying to sabotage this mission?” She replied rolling her eyes, “The other ones have no laces.” After getting the wardrobe situated, it was just about go time. I could not help but laugh as he strutted around the house to mentally prepare for the battle; one would have thought he was going to the Nationals again.

As the official race director and judge, CT also took on the role of coach. Putting his hand on my shoulder, he very sincerely told me “Listen honey, he is going balls to the wall on this one. He refuses to lose to a girl. He is giving it everything he has. I need your head to be in the right place.”  After mentally preparing me, he switched gears and intensely got in JT’s face, screaming–or should I say spitting–words of encouragement. I never understood this; it must be a wrestling thing.

Finally it was race time.  The race officials were set up at the bottom of the hill with a video camera in case there was a photo finish. JT and I reached the starting line, each inching up a little bit as not to let the other one get the slightest advantage.  We were off!  I immediately could not keep pace with him and fell behind.  I ended up losing by about 7 seconds, but the kid was unable to stand up straight or catch his breath at the finish line.

When we arrived at my parents, it was all we could talk about.  I had to remind everyone about the marathon, my early morning run, and of course the tattoo. JT, still short of breath, was glowing. He joked, as he coughed and wheezed; he was going to get a turkey tattoo. I said next year loser choses the course–an uphill 2 mile run. I was shot down.  After his weak showing of endurance, he knew he would be unable to maintain pace or recover for any distance longer than 1 mile.

Luckily, not the most violent of Tout holidays, but entertaining nonetheless. By hors d’oeuvre time the next ridiculous competition had begun: who has burned more calories in their lifetime–me, JT, or CT. The engineer and the CPA, immediately began to crunch the numbers…