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After Hours Athlete

Posted by George Parker on
<b>After Hours Athlete </b>

We have all been on a car trip with that long, lonely stretch of interstate. Exit ramps every 20 miles, but you would never stop unless you really needed gas. An underwhelming landscape surrounds the two-lane road, occasionally interrupted by Game Crossing signs that spike your adrenaline and raise your awareness for a few minutes. Then, back to nothing. Until you finally break through and approach a city.

Before I had kids, my stretch was between Indianapolis and Chicago. Nothing but farm fields. It's essential but boring to drive through. There is one section (if you've been on the trip, you'll know) where you pass miles of wind turbines standing proudly and working. At night, the turbine's red lights blink in unison, punctuating the darkness with an unworldly glow. When my kids were little, my stretch was from Chattanooga to Lexington. Nothing, except I will forever remember that Cleveland, Tennessee, is where they manufacture M&Ms. Nowadays, I don't take road trips as much. On my work trip out West, I found this lonely stretch of road again: Boise to Salt Lake City.

Boise is a charming city background by mountains. Salt Lake City is more bustling than charming, framed by the Wasatch Mountains and hugged by the Great Salt Lake. In between the two cities is nothing but peaceful country for 300 miles. After four hours of driving, I saw signs of approaching Salt Lake City. Lights, buildings, and activity were more plentiful. I sat a little taller in my seat, preparing for the traffic and returning to the city. And then, I saw it. A billboard on the side of the road read:

After Hours Athlete

In the Peregrune podcast, I conclude by asking guests what phrase they would put on a car bumper sticker. I have gotten a lot of great answers over the years. This billboard could be another of them. I was zooming past the sign, so I didn't get the subtext or context. But the headline stuck with me: After Hours Athlete. Isn't that what we all are? Very few of us running professionally. We are all balancing life, work, career, and family with chasing running goals. Why? We are all after-hours. You say you are not an athlete? Are you sure? Very few people will consistently lace a pair of running shoes and train.

You are an athlete if you are dedicated to improving your health and fitness. If you dream and set goals, you are an athlete. If you run, you are an athlete.

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