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Burn the bulge with a turkey trot

The giant tree has arrived in Pioneer Courthouse Square. Hundreds of turkeys are filling the freezers at grocery stores all over the Portland metro area. Your own kitchen may be filling with ingredients for stuffing, gravy and pumpkin pie. And your DVR should be set to record "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" (hint: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 8 p.m. on KATU).

These are all sure signs Thanksgiving is upon us-the season for family, fun and, yes, feasting. Unfortunately, it can also be a day of Tums, stretch pants and morning-after despair.

Our Thanksgiving festivities are so rich, the average American manages to consume more than 3,000 calories during the feasting. While some traditional dishes can be adjusted to make them more waistband-friendly, the reality is you'll still probably take in more calories than you need.

One way to combine holiday fun with a way to work off some of that pumpkin pie is to join one of the many "turkey trot" fun runs happening around the Portland/Vancouver metro area this week. These festive events range from tougher trail runs to costumed family run/walks.

Portland/Vancouver Area Turkey Trots

Les Schwab Tires Turkey Trot Relay and 5K Run/Walk
Wednesday, Nov. 27, 7 p.m.

To kick off the fun, gather up the family or some friends and head to Portland International Raceway the evening before Thanksgiving for a chance to enjoy a couple laps around a track festooned in Christmas lights for the annual Winter Wonderland. There's even a special trot for kids.

Run for the Hungry
Thursday, Nov. 28, 7:30 a.m.

Before you feed your face, you can run to help feed the hungry of Washougal and Camas, Washington. This is another family-friendly event that welcomes walkers and runners of all ages, competitive and non-competitive alike.

Tofurky Trot
Thursday, Nov. 28, 8:30 a.m.

For an extra-healthy twist on Thanksgiving fun, try this 5k run/walk that supports plant-based lifestyles. Your registration fees raise money for Northwest Veg, a Portland-based organization that helps people make healthier food choices. This trot takes place at Oaks Amusement Park along the Willamette River in Portland.

ORCC Turkey Trot at the Zoo
Thursday, Nov. 23, 8 a.m.

Runners and walkers of all ages flock to Washington Park for the annual Turkey Trot at the Oregon Zoo. The trot includes a 4-mile run/walk and a 1/3-mile Tot Trot perfect for your tiniest runner. There's even an official Diaper Dash! Entry fees support the Oregon Zoo.

Thursday, Nov. 28, various times.

Another family-friendly event, the annual Turkeython combines a 5k run/walk with a free kidathon for the younger crowd. Families even get a registration discount, and registration fees support the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Oregon Food Bank. Turkeython offers runs all over the metro area:

  • Tigard Cook Park
  • Hillsboro Rock Creek Country Club
  • Portland Waterfront Park

Give 'n' Gobble
Thursday, Nov. 23, 9 a.m.

Helping Hands Food Bank benefits from this event in Sherwood, Oregon. The Give and Gobble includes a family-friendly 5k run/walk as well as a 10k run for people who want a bigger challenge to start their Thanksgiving Day.

Build it yourself

Can't find the perfect option or prefer to set your own time and trot for free? Just gather your friends and family for your own walk, run or climb. This way you can choose if you want to start your Thanksgiving with some exercise or if you prefer to get outside on Black Friday for something more active than waiting in line at Best Buy.

Taking a trot around your neighborhood is perfectly fine. But if you want to make a memorable gathering in a more natural space, try one of these favorite spots around the Portland/Vancouver area:

Mount Talbert: This nature park nestled in suburban Clackamas features a number of trails through live oaks and bountiful ferns. Important note: No dogs are allowed on these trails, so leave Fido at home for this one.

Powell Butte: This east county favorite includes numerous trails through trees and meadows and around an extinct volcano. You-and your dog-can enjoy beautiful views of surrounding mountains if the weather happens to be clear this week. Note: Mountain bikes are welcome here too!

Springwater Corridor: Connecting Boring, Oregon, all the way to the Willamette River in Portland, this paved multiuse path gives you a great place to run, walk, push a stroller or ride your bike. The portion closer to Boring is especially popular with families.

Burnt Bridge Creek: Head north to enjoy this multiuse path that runs 8 miles through grasslands and forests in Vancouver, Washington.

And never forget the longstanding tradition of a fun backyard football game before or after your feast.

A day for gratitude

However you celebrate Thanksgiving this week, remember to inventory all the blessings in your life. A habit of gratitude this week and all year long will do wonders for your spiritual, mental and, yes, physical health.

From all of us at Adventist Health, have a truly happy Thanksgiving.