I didn’t really hear the start.
Somewhere on the other side of the crowd gathered on Kanawha Boulevard Thanksgiving morning, someone had a megaphone or a microphone and they were saying things. But the sound was distorted, like the words of Charlie Brown’s teacher.
Then the mass of runners and walkers who’d come out for Charleston’s annual Drumstick Dash lurched forward and I went along, walking slowly at first before moving at something approximating a run.
“Here we go,” I said and hit the start of my running playlist.
Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart” fired up and I snickered.
It had been months since I’d run anything long enough to need a playlist. This was my first time in the Drumstick Dash, my second race in Charleston after the Distance Run in 2019, and my third road race since I began running almost three years ago.
I’d mostly kept up with my running through the pandemic until the start of last summer’s “55 in 55” series, but between the travel and constantly playing catch-up when I came home, my running fell off.
I went from logging 3 to 5 miles, five days a week, to maybe 3 or 4 miles every other week (or so).
Signing up for the Drumstick Dash sounded like a good way to get back to running and also kick off this special holiday edition of “One Month at a Time,” which takes me out to as many Christmas events and activities as I can squeeze in from Thanksgiving until Christmas.
The crowd at the Drumstick Dash started off slow, but as we moved forward, I threaded my way through clusters of talkers, walkers and parents pushing strollers.
The serious runners were already way ahead, flying down the boulevard. I was just trying to find a comfortable pace.
It took me a couple of minutes to warm up, but by the time I got to the turnaround point at Greenbrier Street, I felt confident enough to pick up the pace. I wasn’t going to win this thing, but I thought I could finish stronger than I started.
A couple of teenage girls in headbands and black tights, chatting away like they were ordering fries at the drive-thru, blew past me like I was standing still.
I huffed and puffed and tried to catch them, but that wasn’t happening. Instead, I managed to get ahead of a guy with a dog and another man dressed as Santa Claus.
That seemed about as good of a start to the holiday season as I could ask for.