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? 

Scott Collins of Smyrna enjoys a peach in Piedmont Park, immediately following the Peachtree Road Race.
  • 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 that said (I paraphrase), It’s not that I finished the race, it’s that I started. 
Bring it on, beastie!