One Foot In Front of the Other

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As is often the case when the year begins to fade and a new year looms ahead, I reflect on where the Platte River Fitness Series has been and assess where we need to go. As we move into the 18th year of working to improve health outcomes and create a culture of physical activity in our community, I realize that while we may reinvent the way we do that somewhere in the future, what has brought us to this point and will continue to help us move forward are the stories we tell. It is the common theme of struggle, adversity and triumph that weaves the fabric of the Platte River Fitness Series. Our blog sits idle much of the time, so for 2019, the goal is to re-engage this platform to continue to tell our stories. Over the next year, we also hope it will be a place where you can go to find support and inspiration. A feeling of community and strong mentoring are two more strands that create the fabric we need to support each other on our wellness journeys. So many of you have so much to contribute. We plan to make this a place for you to tell your story and for us to tell the story of the PRFS and its events.

Our fitness events are our tools. We continue to be blessed by organizations who want us to know about the good causes they support while giving us a local, inexpensive place to reach our fitness goals. In 2019, we once again have 21 such organizations. Each of these races singularly serves our mission but put them together, and they create a movement unlike anywhere else. Some events are large and some not-so-large, but each one brings an opportunity. Our 5K’s represent a beginning. For those people who are just beginning to “put one foot in front of the other,” the 5K’s give them a significant goal to work toward. The 5K’s are the teachers and the lessons are consistency, planning, and preparation. They also give our experienced athletes a place to train, measure progress, or simply break personal bests. The longer distances are about so much more than more miles. Each new distance is a new goal reached and a new understanding of one’s unlimited potential. Our ever lengthening distances give experienced athletes an opportunity to teach, to mentor and to inspire and for beginners, a chance to grow and push away all boundaries they thought once held them.

We push away limits of possibility with trail runs and adventure races. Staying healthy is arduous, and these kinds of events help add new life with new challenge and variety to our training routine. They also help us to see that we can always do more than we believe. Our signature event is a triathlon, requiring a special dedication to one’s physical fitness. We give people a space to explore other forms of exercise and embrace ultimate physical challenge. We have grown a community of Ironman triathletes who continue to reach new heights of accomplishment and make an entire community proud. We introduce people to the simple joy of riding a bike and the blissfulness of time in the water. In 2019, we will add our first color run, knowing that fun is as important to fitness as are the miles we cover.

We continue to owe a great debt to our race directors and their willingness to do the hard work they do with each person in mind. Allison Huebner from the Hershey Fall Festival said it best, “If we had one person do this race, we would still have this race.” That philosophy reflects the long standing philosophy of the PRFS, the “power of one.” If the work we do changes one life and helps just one person live a better life, we have met our mission. The stories tell us that the PRFS still has a place in helping to do that. We also continue to owe a great debt to Great Plains Health. Without their fiscal sponsorship and dedication to community wellness, the Platte River Fitness Series could not exist. They are ever-present in every triumph and every story we have to tell and are representative of what can be done when people join together for the common good.

I am excited to see where 2019 takes our fitness family. Like any family, and any athlete, we will have joy and we will have struggle. What we always have is each other. Whether you have done every race for years or you have started to exercise for the first time in years so you can complete one race, you are our family. Physical activity, challenge, adversity and hard work will become even more vital to every individual and every community who aspires to grow in the fullness of life in the years ahead. As each of us, race directors, sponsors, volunteers and athletes, continues to put one foot in front of the other, remember that when we walk, run, swim, bike or just move in unison, we help our community and each other be all that we were meant to be. We will soon celebrate the winners of 2018 and take a rest for a couple of months from racing. These cold and dreary months are perfectly suited to looking around for those we can help to join our fitness family. The new year for many means starting over. Together, we can help others learn a way of living that means never having to start over because we just keep going, year after year, one foot in front of the other, healthy and full of the goodness of life.

Trudy Merritt