After this weekend, I think we are just seeing the "tip of the iceberg" as it regards a change in lifestyle in this country. If there was any doubt in my mind that there is a significant trend towards healthier living in the United States, those doubts have been removed.
On Sunday, I ran the Disney Princess half marathon in Orlando with a group of 10 friends — eight from Statesboro, one from Atlanta, and one from Charleston. More than 26,000 people participated in this race. Approximately 25,000 were women of all different shapes, sizes and ages.
Let me paint a quick picture for you of the race itself. They start sending off groups of runners at 5:30 a.m. and continue until 6:30 a.m. So, you need to be there by 4 a.m. We left our hotel at 3:30. The point is to have everybody off the course in time for Disney to open its parks and roads without any major race day congestion.
This was a massive, massive race. I cannot begin to describe to you the sea of humanity that wove itself through Disney World over the 13.1-mile course. What I can tell you, however, is how excited the racers and their families were.
There were spouses, children, parents and friends crowded along the course with signs reflecting joy for their loved one that was running. You could tell that this race meant a tremendous amount for those participating in it and for their families.
Everyone had a story about how this race marked a milestone in their desire to live a healthy lifestyle, and to celebrate the transformation from an unhealthy body to a healthy one with exercise and a change in eating habits.
As with most everyone else, it was a milestone for me as well. I have never run a race that long, and had no idea what to expect. The temperature at race time was 70 degrees, and I'm sure the humidity was 100 percent. Miles 10 through 13 were brutal, and at least for me, mile 12 seemed endless.
During mile 13, the muscles in my thighs, just above my knees, began to twitch and cramp, but I managed to run through it and finish, as did everyone else in my group.
One of the things I gleaned from this experience is the sheer passion that people have for exercise now, particularly women. The vast majority of those that participated did not look like elite runners. In fact, they didn't look particularly athletic, but they were determined. I am assuming that most exercise on a regular basis, or they wouldn't have been able to complete the event in the time allotted.
In my opinion, industries directed towards healthy living are just going to boom, and the movement is only going to grow. For me, like many of the women this weekend, exercise has become an integral part of my life, and I like that there is a growing industry to support it.
In fact, my mother says that I have an "exercise sickness." I hope she's right.
So, until next Tuesday, I bid you au revoir.
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