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Take time to enjoy life's journey

June 03, 2007|By JOEL HUFFER

Enjoy the scenery, Joel.

I was nearing the four-mile mark of my first 10K race last June when I heard those words from a fellow runner. We passed as he was making his way to the turnaround and I was pushing on toward the finish.

The words of advice came from my high school principal, Joe Robeson, a runner for many years and a veteran of countless area road races.

He knew from watching me as a basketball player at Boonsboro High School that I was a competitor. And he could tell on this day that the former athlete in me was asking more of my body than it could deliver.

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The Run Through History 10K at Antietam National Battlefield was only the third race I had run since my final high school track meet in 1990. I had competed in two 5Ks in the previous six months after starting a running program to shed weight I had gained over 15 years.

That regimen took me to a middle school track, the C&O Canal towpath, area parks and around my neighborhood. And until I heard those words from Mr. Robeson, I never realized that I was paying attention to little more than the minutes and seconds ticking away on my watch.

And that's the way many of us live our lives.

We rush from the office to the gym to the meeting with a client, cursing every stoplight that impedes our progress. We make calls from our cell phones while we wait in line at the grocery store, the post office or the bank. And we feed our kids food from the drive-through while we shuttle them from soccer to karate to piano lessons in the minivan.

And we neglect to enjoy the scenery along the way.

I'll be the first to admit that my mother drove me crazy for the first 18 years of my life, and that my wife has done the same for the last 15 years. To say they enjoy the scenery would be an understatement.

They don't just take time to stop and smell the roses, they take time to cut them, take them inside the house and arrange them in a vase - all when we're headed out the door to go somewhere. That leaves me sitting in the car, with beads of sweat forming on my brow, resisting the urge to honk the horn.

Or at least it used to.

Since that encounter at the battlefield, I've learned to relax a little.

If my sons want to swing in the backyard for a few extra minutes before school or church, I let them. If they want to stop on the walk to the park for a baseball game to collect rocks or sticks, or flowers for their mother, I don't sweat it.

It's taken me almost 35 years to get it, but life's a lot more fun when you enjoy the journey and don't look at the clock so often.

I'll be back at Antietam this morning for my second Run Through History 10K, and with another year's worth of running under my belt, the competitor in me is sure to surface. But I know this time, rather than getting wrapped up in how fast I go through each mile, I'll be able to relax enough to appreciate the things I see along the way.

I just hope there aren't any roses.

Joel Huffer is managing editor of The Morning Herald. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7587, or by e-mail at joelh@herald-mail.com.

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