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Running smack dab into a whole different world

I've done the Peachtree Road Race a couple of times in the past.

I think it must be like childbirth, because I would have to forget how bad I hurt before I could think about doing it again.

Last year, I actually put some effort into getting ready for it. I worked on my treadmill (woefully inadequate to the real challenge). I got a cute outfit, good shoes, and ate bananas and all that.

I completed the race in about an hour and three-quarters; merely content that I didn't die, and I wasn't last.

This year at Connecting Henry, we started looking at new and different programs for kids, trying to keep them active and out of trouble.

I spoke to Nicole Elkins and Melissa Chapman from Park Avenue Bank, and they, in turn, got me all fired up about running again. They both swore that if I would get off my treadmill and out of doors, that I would be hooked. And it is only fair that, if I'm going to advocate for a program for teens, that I take a dose of my own medicine and practice what I preach.

They may be right. I've gotten out in my area a couple of times by myself. It's OK, but I have to have my iPod to help pass the time. Listening to the sound of my own huffing and puffing is not exactly encouraging.

Back in April, I tried my first 5K at Truett's for the Run of the Mill. We got done with the race, and I was basking in the self-satisfaction of having done it.

I was even feeling pretty good after we got back to the house. Thought I'd probably get up and do 10 miles on Sunday. When I woke up that first Sunday, I felt like I'd been beaten from the inside out, starting up at my nose all the way down to my little piggie toes.

And dern if I didn't do it again. The first weekend in May, I did Usher's 5K at Crystal Lake. Now, I certainly didn't make any miraculous improvement, but I shaved a couple of minutes off my time, and I did not have the newbie pain the next day.

Now, before you think I'm an overachiever, I'm actually just like most people I know. On Saturday morning, I'd much rather lounge around in bed, sip coffee, and go eat fried, dead something for breakfast.

And the older I get, the harder it is to get the fried, dead something off of my tailgate weight. So, I'm now foraging into the world of the healthy. Don't be alarmed, I'm never going to eat bean sprouts and quit drinking coffee. But, I am learning about the Universe of the Active Human.

The inhabitants come in every size, age, and shape. They follow www.active.com to locate whatever physical activity can be tracked within a certain distance of a given city.

They also seek out others who are cardio-chums, because it is much easier to do this as a group than as a loner. First, it is safer, and second, it really helps to hear, "You can do it."

My personal motivation is to finally catch up to one particular Daddy-type who brings three kids and pushes a baby stroller - and makes it across the finish line in the first wave.

Yeah buddy - I'll catch him one of these days.

Denise Rodgers is executive director of Connecting Henry, a social-services, networking, community organization in Henry County.