– Yoda (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)
Another year, another 10-kilometer Atlanta Peachtree Road Race concluded successfully by that most reliable of measurements – I did not keel over dead.
I couldn’t have done it July Fourth without the help of so many, so some polite applause for:
• University Health Care Foundation for making me a special pink Miracle Mile Walk T-shirt to wear in Wednesday’s race.
Pink was a unique color among the 60,000 runners, who mostly favored red, white or blue.
There was one woman wearing a lime-colored ballerina costume – imagine an oversized Tinkerbell. She appeared to run out of pixie dust about one mile into the race.
• Thanks to Gene Callaway of the Doraville Police Department. I called asking if he knew any shortcuts to the course.
He said he was going anyway and offered to pick me up at the station early Wednesday and deliver me close to the starting line. He did. And I am grateful.
• Thanks to the weather. My brother had called a few days before, suggesting I sit out this year’s race because everyone in Atlanta was worried about the heat.
They had even announced a warning flag system: Yellow was normal hot July. Orange was bad. Red was dangerous. Black was “Everybody stop running and go sit down.”
But then severe thunderstorms blew through town the night before. The temps dropped, the humidity was mild by Augusta standards. The morning of the race felt relatively cool.
• Thanks to my shoes. I have to admit that after decades of running in whatever name-brand I could find on sale, I finally gave in to my wife’s advice and went to a professional running shoe store where they evaluated my gait and feet and recommended what I should wear. Suddenly many of my knee ailments vanished and I was inheriting the wind.
• Finally, thanks to my son, who serves as our house media technician.
When I asked if he could fix me up with one of those iPods that I noticed other runners wearing plugged into their ears during races, he said to give him a list of 20 or so songs I might find inspirational. In no time he had downloaded my personal playlist.
• Which is why, in conclusion, I would like to thank the Chambers Brothers, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Steve Winwood, Annie Lenox, the Pointer Sisters, Jethro Tull, Van Halen and Bruce Springsteen for reminding me I was born to run.
When I finally staggered over the finish line Wednesday morning, I looked at the clock in disbelief. Somehow I had finished the race six minutes faster than last year.
I get by with a little help from my friends.
Thank you all (again.)