Originally created 09/17/06

Slow and steady wins the race, or at least finishes it



When you win, say nothing. When you lose, say less.

- Coach Paul Brown

My wife, known for asking more questions than an H&R Block tax preparer, wondered what I was doing in the attic with the flashlight.

"Looking through my T-shirt box," I confessed.

I wanted to wear my 1980 Broad Street Ramble T-shirt when I ran again in Saturday's event. I couldn't find the old shirt, so I began to look for substitutes - shirts to make me look dashing.

Of course, you-know-who had to approve my selections, and I finally settled on a Shepeard Blood Center T-shirt.

"That's nice," my wife said. "It's white and will be cool to run in."

"I was thinking it would get me points with the EMTs if I pass out and they call an ambulance," I said.

That didn't happen. What did happen Saturday was the race - officially the SRP Federal Credit Union Broad Street Ramble - an annual 10-kilometer competition put on by the Augusta Striders, in cooperation with Augusta Urban Ministries.

It offered a leisurely 6.2-mile jaunt down Broad Street to Harrisburg and back, and it seemed to be dominated by 20-, 30- and 40-year-old track stars.

For those of us who do not fit into that category, it offered a chance to set goals and seek to attain them.

My first goal: Finish first.

To be honest, achieving my first goal would require training, discipline and talent. I figured I have one out of those three things, so I moved on to another goal.

My second goal: Finish first in my age division.

Having checked last year's finish times, I thought I had a chance if I could master two out of three on the training-discipline-talent scale.

I developed a strategy. I would get out to a moderately quick start, then not let anyone who looked older pass me. This strategy might have proved successful if the race had been a 2-K, instead of a 10-K.

My final goal: Finish.

This was the simple goal that my brain, lungs and legs negotiated somewhere in the fifth mile. The brain, sitting up high and enjoying the ride, began to get complaints from the legs and lungs that they were tired and wanted to stop. The brain still had delusions of closing the deal with one of those wonderful half-mile sprints it remembered from high school 40 years ago, but the legs and the lungs took a vote and said they didn't think that was going to happen.

The brain said it would be really embarrassed if they stopped, so what about this: just keep going, no final sprint, but no stopping either.

Consensus reached, we all finished in what was actually a personal best for this millennium. It wasn't first, but it wasn't last, either.

Some inherit the wind; for others, our legacy's a breeze.