Sunday afternoon I registered for the Peachtree Road Race. The Peachtree is not special to me because it’s a race. As a race for most people it’s not very much fun. The Peachtree is special because it’s an event. It is a tradition among Atlanta runners. You get up early and go down town to Lenox Mall and run to Piedmont Park. You do this with 55,000 of your closest friends. I started running the Peachtree in 1980, two years after we moved back to Atlanta and I was hired by Delta. This was one thing that I did by myself. Well I did it by myself until my girls were old enough to run it with me. Julia never once got up and went down to run or walk the course. I tried to talk her into it many times. Her idea of the fourth of July didn’t include an early get up and a walk with 55000 people. Soot, I couldn’t even get her up to come down and cheer for me. She probably would have if I had asked her, but I really didn’t care and I would rather see her sleep. So I was pretty much alone. I would get up around 4:30, and quietly get ready. My plan was to leave around 5 or 5:30 and drive down to Piedmont Park. I would park near the finish line and then ride MARTA up to the start line at Lenox Square. I did this after deciding I would rather ride in a crowded Marta car with runners BEFORE they ran the race rather than AFTER the race. Anyway I would run the race, come home and take a nap and then we would do whatever we did on the fourth.
This year was going to be different. You see this will be my 30th running of the Peachtree Road race. I have run in every race since 1980 except one. In 1988 I was Director of our Youth camp. I could have gone in to run the race, but I felt the responsibility of the camp, and chose to stay at camp and miss the race. So this is my 30th running of Peachtree. I was going to get Julia to walk it or at least meet me at the finish line. My plan was to try to have the whole family up. The race doesn’t seem so important now. Yes, I will still run it. My sister Laura is going to run it with me. If Lisa can, she will run it too. That will be fun, and I know that we will have a good time. Since Julia has never been at the race, it shouldn’t matter that she’s not there, but it will. You see, she traveled with me for many races. I’ve run 14 Marathons all around the country. We would go and see the sights, I would run the race and she would be there at the finish line. Then we would go out for a good dinner. We had fun traveling around. She went with me to Chicago, New York, Maui, Honolulu, Big Sur and many other places. So I will miss her on the 4th of July as I celebrate accomplishing 30 Peachtree Road Races. We were planning on going back to Hawaii this September. I was going to register for the Kauai Marathon this month. I’m glad I didn’t. I will run another Marathon, hopefully next fall or winter but it won’t be that one. I have too many fond memories of all of Hawaii to go back there right now.
We lived in Hawaii from late 1971 until June 1975. I’ve talked about the early hard years, but we had so much fun there, and there are so many memories. Jennifer, our oldest daughter was born there. She was born in Tripler Medical Center. It was an Army hospital then. It’s still there today; a big pink building that stands out for miles. Julia was a pioneer in natural childbirth back when it wasn’t the thing to do. We went to Lamaze classes. She learned breathing techniques, and I learned how to coach. Personally I would have just as soon waited in the waiting room, but I loved her so much I would do whatever she asked. I’m so glad she insisted because I wouldn’t want to have missed being a part of Jennifer’s and later Lisa’s birth. Her pioneering spirit probably blessed me as much or more than it blessed her. I can still remember being in the delivery room. The details are sketchy, but I remember Jennifer crying, and I remember Julia enduring tremendous pain to do it her way. She was a strong woman, and when she put her mind to something, she usually got her way. We always thought it was funny at Tripler. They had her up and walking almost as soon as the delivery was over.
We had had fun in Hawaii as a young married couple. We sailed, went to the beach, had parties on weekends and really didn’t have many worries. When a baby came we weren’t prepared for all the changes that being a parent brought. I didn’t have any idea how much work newborn babies could be. Of course, I thought Julia should take care of Jennifer all night. I mean, I had to get up and go to work. All she had to do was stay home and keep Jennifer. How hard could that be? Man was I dumb! I had no idea, but I would soon find out.