No trek down P'tree for me

By Doug Gorman

After years of poor eating habits, late-night binges, and a lack of exercising, I've done a pretty good job of getting myself back in better physical condition so far this year.

Thanks to the help of a dieting program, brisk walks and some self-discipline, I've lost nearly 30 pounds since January 1. I still have about 25 pounds to go before I get down to the magic number of 170 pounds.

That would put me just five pounds more than I weighed when I graduated from college nearly 16 years go. It's a pretty good compromise for a guy who will turn 39 this September.

Back in college, staying in shape was easy. Several games of raquetball and tennis each week helped burn off the calories with ease.

A lack of time has made it impossible to play either game much anymore, and both my raquetball racket and my tennis racket sit next to my starter set of golf clubs gathering dust.

About the only set of sports equipment I have needed lately is a good pair of tennis shoes for my walks.

There is nothing more tranquil than getting up early and going for a stroll at one of the many parks near by home in Henry County.

Right now, walking is just my speed.

So that means I won't be participating today in one of Atlanta's biggest Fourth of July traditions?the Peachtree Road Race.

I'm not ready for that just yet.

The Peachtree Road Race might just be the most unique running event in the world.

Where else can "Average Joe Athlete" compete in the same event as a world-class runners?

It takes a special breed of person to get up early on race day, fight the traffic (hopefully they take MARTA) to get to the starting line and then work their way to the finish line after completing the grueling 10K event just so they can receive a t-shirt.

If you want to see something truly spectacular, keep and eye on the wheel-chair athletes. These men, women and children are unbelievable as they push themselves to the limit in order to get to the finish line.

I have many friends who run each year in the Peachtree and most can't give me a reason as to why they choose to spend part of their Fourth of July this way.

None are in it because they are excited about the T-shirt that comes with finishing the race.

Most have told me they do it because they regard it as a personal challenge. The thought of bettering last year's time, or just finishing the race leads them to sign up for the race year in and year out.

Their love of running has never rubbed off on me.

Even as I move toward better physical conditioning, I can't ever see myself jogging down Peachtree Street on the Fourth of July.

So, let the truly dedicated runners pound the pavement this morning, I'll sleep in, watch some of the highlights on television, and maybe just maybe if I'm really motivated, I'll go for a walk.

Doug Gorman is the sports editor of the Daily. His column runs on Fridays. He can be e-mailed at dgorman@news-daily.com.