Run the race, get the shirt

8/4/2011

The month of July was just peachy for fitness.  What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than to get up at the crack of dawn, walk a mile, ride MARTA with several thousand others, walk another mile and then wait a half an hour before running a 10K?
          Yes, I was able to participate in the famous Peachtree Road Race, along with 50,000-plus other fun-loving people, on a warm Monday morning in July.  Were you there among the runners, or were you one of the blessed people cheering us on?  Either way, the Peachtree Road Race is 6.2-mile road party.
          I was lucky to get in and I was glad.  Entering and finishing the World’s Largest 10K was on my bucket list of fitness achievements.  Now, I just have a half-marathon and a full marathon to complete and I’ll be finished.
          The Peachtree Race is a great experience and I would encourage you to work toward it as a goal.  I witnessed father-daughter runners, mother-son pairings, whole families running together, ladies groups (dressed up in patriotic tutus), young men wearing flag capes or dressed up as Roman soldiers, and thousands of other runners who were plodding along to finish.
          The finish is not just about getting there, of course.  All along the route there were live bands playing, or radio stations blaring adrenaline-fueling music. Restaurant employees were passing out Frisbees or tossing t-shirts to lucky runners.  At frequent intervals, fire hydrants cooled runners with misting water, and numerous volunteers passed out water to thirsty joggers. But when you get to the finish you get the great reward—the famed Peachtree Road Race Official T-Shirt.  You finish the race, you get the shirt.  It is not available in stores. You can only get it if you run the race.
          The Apostle Paul wrote about running the race to win the prize, but I think he was referring to something more eternal than a nice-looking t-shirt.  Nonetheless, wanting to get that piece of clothing kept me moving forward, even when I was tired.  The fact that there were tens of thousands of others moving toward the same goal was helpful too.  I ran alone, but was definitely part of something bigger than me, swept along with the momentum of others traveling toward a common goal.
          While I was not able to run the entire route, I ended up walking about 2 miles and jogging the rest so that’s progress for me in my running habit. I didn’t know how far I could jog before I had to slow to a walk because I’m not a fast runner like David Moore (he was in the A group, which means they run fast.  I was in the J group).  To give you an idea of how slow I was moving, by the time my group started the race (shortly after 8 a.m.), the lead runners, mostly Kenyans, had already finished and were most likely eating breakfast.
          What fitness goal have you set for yourself?  Have you taken steps to set the plan in motion?  Are you engaging others around you to help move toward the goal?  It doesn’t have to be a big race like the Peachtree, but having something to work toward is a great motivation to get you moving, and keep you moving.
Please email me at the address below with a topic you’d like to see in Staying Fit and I’ll do my best to get it in this column.  Let’s keep moving together!
Dr. John A. Page is an associate pastor at Athens First UMC . Go to www.amazon.com for his book, “The Almighty in the Ordinary.” Email John at john.a.page@ngumc.net


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