Running While Black: Reflections on the Race of My Life

The violent killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department and the resulting protest across the country propelled me to write this book.

However, the killing of Ahmaud Arbery three months earlier profoundly affected me. You see, I’m a Marathoner.
Although I can see myself in George Floyd as a Black man in America, through Ahmaud, I can see myself as a Black man who runs in America.

Race has always been a part of my life, even when I didn’t realize it. Looking back on my life and the over 25 marathons I’ve run, I have learned much about running races and race. In some respects, a “Black runner”is a metaphor for running thru life as a Black person in America. This book reflects on how I’ve negotiated some of those challenges well, and some not so much. This is my maturation from being taught, to learning, to knowing, Running While Black: Reflections on The Race of My Life.

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The violent killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department and the resulting protest across the country propelled me to write this book. However, the killing of Ahmaud Arbery three months earlier more profoundly affected me. I am a runner, and Ahmaud was murdered while out for a run. I have run over 25 marathons, and I enjoy them tremendously. Although I can see myself in George Floyd as a Black man in America, through Ahmaud, I can see myself as a Black man who runs in America. Ahmaud was killed doing something I do four or five times a week. In fact, there’s a good chance I will run this afternoon.

Race has always been a part of my life, even when I didn’t realize it. As a toddler, a preteen, a teenager, a young adult, and especially now, race has been important to me. Some white people think you know about race just because you were born Black. There is an assumption that because you are Black, you are an expert in talking about race. This is not true. We all learn about race from our lived experiences. However, the challenge between white people and Black people is that our lived experiences are different.

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About Running While Black: Reflections on the Race of My Life

52 Chapters

299 Pages

We all make mistakes when discussing race because we have different life experiences. We don’t stop to consider other evidence regarding our views on race. We fall or falter when we don’t believe in someone else’s lived experience. We fall or falter when we believe that our experience or point of view is the only one. We fall or falter when we think we are right, with little possibility of being wrong.

Being Black in America means living inside and being bound to a box. You are told that racism doesn’t exist. Being Black in America is driving on the highway at the speed limit while consciously looking in your rearview mirror, thinking you might get pulled over any minute. Being Black in America is to be constantly gaslit with people who say that what you’ve experienced you have not experienced, what you see you haven’t seen, and what you feel you haven’t felt.

Looking back on my life and the over 25 marathons I’ve run, I have learned much about running races and race. I am a man who had to learn about race and how to navigate this social construct. I have learned through what I have seen in history, heard through music and the arts, and learned from the response to what I’ve said in my struggle to get race right. My learning is not done.

In some respects, a “Black runner” is a metaphor for running thru life as a Black person in America. This book is about my reflections as to how I’ve negotiated some of those challenges well and some not so much. This is my maturation from being taught, to learning, to knowing, Running While Black: Reflections on The Race of My Life.

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"I really enjoyed his perspective on life as a Black Man, running or not...because we all are running in one way or another...to success, from success, to God, from God, from Love to Love...etc. Something! His points made were on point, causing all to reflect and consider all we have learned and still need to learn about life as a Black person, or just a human being for that matter"

– MST

Get ready to journey from behind the eyes of a Black Man! You'll be surprised to experience how much things aren't always as they seem. The ride will exhilarate, anger, confuse - yet inspire. Get your ticket and climb aboard. Each page will allow you to reflect upon your own life experience. Quite enjoyable trip.

– Wizard

"Rick’s writing style is easy to read, very engaging, and I could feel what he was feeling. I was already familiar with most of the events mentioned in the book, but to learn how those events were perceived and felt by a black man, and personal friend, gave me a new level of understanding. If more white people gained this level of understanding, the world would be a better place. Thank you, Rick, for giving so much of yourself. Highly recommend!"

– Kathey C.

26.2 Miles to Grace

Every finish line has a starting line. Sometimes you think you are chasing finish lines, but you realize what you really are chasing is a chance to start again. You are running to become the best version of yourself. God gave me another chance to be a better version. 

In this book, I will share triumphant, as well as heartbreaking stories, as I reveal my journey to becoming a 25-time marathoner and finding the love of my life. 

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26.2 Sneak Peek:  Introduction, Prologue, and Chapter One

About 26.2 Miles to Grace

50 Chapters

193 Pages

What does running over 25 marathons and being married for over 22 years have in common? Apparently, a lot. Whether you are running your first marathon or thinking about getting married, Rick has weaved together an awe-inspiring story of hard work and perseverance throughout his life. With bumps and bruises along the way, he tells a story with focus, charm, and spiritual guidance.

This is a story of preparation, inspiration, and perspiration. Running a marathon is hard and, some say (and many more believe), marriage is hard too; but, with proper preparation, determination, and guidance, success is in your future. 26.2 miles to Grace leads you every step of the way to train for a marathon as well as a preparation for navigating a fulfilling marriage.

This book is not the authority on marathons or marriage, it is one man’s attempt to make sense of both. One key ingredient is the presence of grace. The story leads you through the weeks of training while he coaches you along his journey of 26.2 miles and 22 years. You will be beset with surprises and lessons you will learn and, maybe, you will encounter a few miracles in the mix.

Written in a straightforward yet motivational tone, “26.2 miles to Grace” helps you navigate the questions about running marathons, marriage, and much more. You will take a satisfying journey without running the miles or without buying the ring, yet.

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"I strongly recommend this book!! What a compelling and easy read!! Comparing marriage and marathons is so befitting for this journey. I couldn’t put it down! I felt every emotion."

– Ronda Jones

"Amazing storytelling of life, love and the pursuit of excellence. Rick takes you through the ups and downs of distance running and marriage and allows a peak into what with the power of love, Grace, and Mercy, you can survive and thrive beyond tragedy."

– Allycin Abel

"Though I am not a runner, after reading this book I am thinking about 26.2 miles. I would have to walk, but this well-written book has inspired and encouraged me. I may not ever enter a marathon, but the messages in "26.2 to Grace" apply to many aspects of life."

– JT

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Rick is a recognized leader, motivational speaker, and published author on leadership, change management, internal controls, and running marathons. He lives in Carrolton, Tx with his wife of 23 years, Rita Parson Hightower, and is the proud father of one son, Corey. 

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