Tomorrow I run the Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10k, and, frankly, I am terrified.
Wouldn’t you be? Look at all those people!
I’m not scared of the 6.2 miles; I’m scared of the unknown. Even though I’ve read all the Atlanta Track Club e-mails, studied the start and finish maps, examined photos of previous races, rode the MARTA system, and did a practice run on the course, I still have no idea what I’m doing or what to expect.
Six months ago, my fear of the unknown would have precluded me from signing up for the race. I never would have had the audacity to dream of running the Peachtree Road Race. Me? Driving the highways of Atlanta to a public rail station? Navigating the underbelly of Atlanta’s rail system? Fighting my way through a crowd of 60,000 runners, plus 150,000 family, friends, and onlookers? Not me. I
run shy away from the unfamiliar.
So if I’m such a scaredy cat, why run this race? What makes this race so special?
- Is it because of the 42,500 ripe, refreshing, sweet Georgia peaches asking for me at the finish line?
- Is it because of the highly coveted Peachtree Road Race t-shirt that runners would sell their children for?
Tempting, but no.
- · Or maybe it’s because I get to wait in line with tens of thousands of people who have to pee and take care of the common runner’s GI issues?
- Maybe it’s because of the unconscionable hot, humid, muggy, intense Georgia weather for which I want to risk heatstroke?
No. Not that either. Although it certainly adds to the appeal. But this race means more than that.
This race is a defining moment for me.
This race is either the beast that I will tame, or that will eat me alive.
This race means more than my Reeboks plowing across the finish line.
- It means breaking out of my comfort zone and putting me in an uncomfortable situation.
- It means the unknown.
- It means surrounding me with a crowd I can’t control.
- It means “running” toward the healthy, fulfilling life I want to live; free of an eating disorder and dissociative symptoms.
- It means taking a risk, taking a chance, and not hiding from life anymore.
- It means ripping me out of my comfort zone.
- It means all that and more.
Mostly it means progress, and, even though I’m afraid of that too, these are risks I have to take to get better.
I’m ready for it. So I’m putting it all on the start line tomorrow. At 7:45, in Corral D, when the gun goes off, I’m proving to myself I can tolerate new, unfamiliar situations. I’m proving I can succeed in places that normally I would run from. I’m proving that my fears don’t have to dictate my life. I’m proving I can do what “normal” people do.
I saw a t-shirt at the Peachtree Expo from www.onemoremile.net that said (I paraphrase), It’s not that I finished the race, it’s that I started.
Bring it on, beastie!