July 9, 2019
So I had the privilege of being able to run the Peachtree Road Race on July 4. I was a little antsy as I was running by myself although I have always preferred to run by myself. Crazy. Some friends and I caught the train and rode in together. All of us in separate waves. But in those beginning moments we laughed a lot and made the most of our morning. I was new to the group but the ladies welcomed me and it felt so genuine as if we had hung out before.
I had gotten little to no sleep the night before and was concerned about how I might fair. If I would survive the run. It has been a while since my last run and my training was not up to par. The longer I stood there inching up every few minutes the more sleepy I became. I started to wonder if I was going to have the energy to finish. I made small talk with a gentleman next to me in the heap of people and he too shared the same drowsy feeling with me. I smiled because I wasn’t alone in that. Although he was like 6’7 and I’m sure would require way less steps than me to finish due to his long legs, and the sheer fact that he was a man. 😁 Before long it would be our chance to take off. I didn’t know what to expect but it was too late to turn back now. Once they counted us down it was time to be off. Immediately I felt the hot air hit my lungs and felt the drag of my already tired body start to want to slow down... And We JUST started !! Not to mention two days prior my bestest friend in the whole wide world MADE me do legs at the gym (thats my story and I’m sticking to it) . This didn’t seem like it was going to end well. But I pushed through. I told myself I was not going to stop unless I felt like my body was going to Give up. I didn’t want to walk unless I couldn’t catch my breath and it was absolutely necessary. I had to keep in mind that that extreme hill was coming up at mile 3 so I wanted to save my walking for then. I continued to push. Contemplating if I should ever start my music or if I should just wing it. Maybe I needed that distraction to keep me focused... sometimes that is just how running goes for me. I secretly felt like pulling out my phone and finding a playlist or an artist to listen to would tire me even more. I didn’t prepare for that part. I had no songs on deck that would be my “Eye of the Tiger” deliverance.
What I did have that I slowly began to notice was the other runners. My heart began to leap at so many things that I was able to witness. There were dads running with their small daughters and some running with their small sons. The pep talks they were giving were priceless. Or hearing the son say to his dad, “do you think we can go a little slower?” And his dad replying, “ Of course buddy, you set the pace.” I saw one dad place his daughter on his back and start to walk.
Miles 1-3 came around a lot faster than I anticipated they would, so that made me extremely happy. Every time I saw a new mile marker I thought to myself, “Huh?, What?” Some of the best surprises I have had in a while ( I live a sheltered life). As we were approaching the dreaded hill, where I was a bit relieved because at this point I had not a clue where my lungs were located. I was a bit tingly on my shoulders and arms and was afraid that meant I was going to pass out. But seeing the hill coming up I said, Thank God, I can finally walk! No sooner than that thought had finished crossing my mind the sweetest lady comes up beside me and said, “ It’s coming, are you ready?” - Who sent you ?!?! Said my eyes, but fortunately she couldn’t see them because I had my cool running shades on. I said, “Uh, no... I can’t.” She says, “OH yes you can! Yes you can! “ She said, “ I’m 63 years old and you can do it, you gotta stop telling yourself no and do it.” I wanted to know who she came with and why they weren’t coming to get her right in that moment... I wanted her to show me what she could do at 63 not so that I could follow suite, but so that I could stop like I had planned miles back and walk up this excruciating hill! She ran beside me for a good while and not once did my perspective change. She soon let the wind ( that wasn’t blowing) take her up the hill at a steady even pace. I, I started to walk. As I began walking, I started becoming surround by more people in my age bracket. Every once in a while there would be a couple of young people shouting encouraging words as they raced through us. “Keep Going!!” “Finish Strong!!” Or there were girls coupled together running talking about plans that they were making. I walked past a couple ( at a high rate of speed, because I’m no lazy walker) and they were talking about whether they would do the race again. “Maybe something shorter next time,” he said.
I continued on with a walk/run mentality for the remainder of the race. One lady jogged up beside me and talked about how she lost her whole running crew. She had “things” sticking out of every part of her body. She was told when she got there that morning that she could not have her backpack so she took everything out and stuffed it where she could. She even had an extra pair of shoes. We talked for a while and then she eventually sped off in the hopes of finding her friends. By the time the worst part of the hill was over, I had sipped so much of my water from my camel pack that the smell of the food and beer was literally making me want to give up. I walked beside another lady that shared my view on that as she was overly disgusted by the line of people waiting on an ice cold beer halfway through the race. She had a good groove going. So after some mutual agreements, I ran off hoping to find my second wind. There were so many people on the sidelines cheering on their families but also cheering on us, the strangers. Tons of funny signs, and it was amazing to me that people would enjoy standing out there in the heat just to be support. Now I’m sure there were many like me who did it because they Love to people watch, But, they still did it.
As I crossed the finish line (that I thought would never come), I just knew I would fall flat on my face and not remember anything for at least a week. As I stumbled through the crowd to find a banana, a popsicle and my shirt, I ran into the lady with all the tucked in goods! She said, “You made it, You finished!” I was slightly out of it but I did ask if she was ever able to find her friends and she said no, she was still looking for them. But she finished!
I wasn’t looking forward to the long uphill walk to the train station. And everyone on their way there seemed like they had rested for a whole day before making the trek. I, on the other hand was still struggling. However, I made it safely back to the train and then into my car where I sat for 15 uninterrupted minutes before I headed home to do more manual labor.
After all that, what I know is this, Life will give you so many opportunities to make choices. And its not about finding the “right one.” It’s about connecting deeper. The relationships I witnessed, the ones I was apart of, all of them required connection. It’s so simple, you just have to be willing. People connecting with people they love and hold dear. Having genuine conversation and being light hearted. People connecting with people they have never met before, but willing to share in an experience that will change your life. Maybe it was an accomplishment for some or just fun for others. Or maybe you were one of the lucky ones who trained and ran insane times, especially up a hill to secure a prize. Maybe it was just something to do with someone you love and thats all that mattered. Whatever the case, the connection was there. Add that to your list of things to do. Connect with someone everyday on a level different than the day before. Connect with someone new. Share a part of yourself and be willing. You never know who may need your encouragement and inspiration. And you never know who has some for you! Be Blessed beyond measure my friends. 💛🌻