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Thanksgiving weekend fitness activities in the Washington area

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By Lenny Bernstein
Thursday, November 26, 2009

Picture this: You and a dozen other people are gathered on couches somewhere today, watching a football game on the big screen and consuming a ridiculously fattening selection of snacks that precede an enormous and even more fattening Thanksgiving meal.

You lean toward your favorite hors d'oeuvre and, with just a trace of smugness, say: "Well, I guess I can have one more, after that fast 10K/really hard spin class/two hours of yoga I did this morning." And with that, you eat the last deviled egg.

C'mon, does it get any better than that?

If overindulgence is in your Thanksgiving plans, exercise should be, too. The list of choices offered by local organizations, most of which incorporate the day's themes of gratitude and charity, is almost as vast as the menu at Aunt Marge's house.

You'll feel slightly better about that second slice of pecan pie, you'll very likely help someone less fortunate and you may spend a little extra quality time with family or friends you haven't seen in a while.

"It's become a part of Thanksgiving morning, at least here in Bethesda and surrounding communities," says Tracy Miller, race coordinator for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase YMCA's 27th annual Turkey Chase, which expects 10,000 people for its 10K and two-mile events. "It's what you do. And maybe it does make you feel a little less guilty come dinnertime."

The run is also the year's biggest fundraiser for the Y and the local Rotary Club; it brings in about $100,000 for scholarships provided by both organizations.

So let someone else worry about the bird while you try some of these. Check around, I'm sure there are other events, too.

Running

You probably have the day off, so you can go for nice long run, especially if the weather's good. But for those who want to give a few dollars to charity and do that workout with neighbors, there are more organized runs than you can shake a (drum)stick at.

The Virginia Run Turkey Trot 5K and Fun Walk in Centreville raises money for a program for cancer patients and their families at Inova Health Systems; the eighth annual Trot for Hunger in the District combats hunger and homelessness through the organization So Others Might Eat; and the Turkey Trot in Frederick raises money for Way Station, a group that helps people with mental illnesses.

Not finished? Okay, on Saturday, Housing and Community Services of Northern Virginia sponsors the Drumstix Dash 8K (that's about five miles for the mathematically challenged) in Burke Lake Park.

Nationally, Thanksgiving is "the biggest running day of the year," says Kathy Freedman, owner of the Capital Running Co., which provides timing services for some of the runs. "People want to come out and enjoy a fun, healthy activity before they go and overeat."


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