A couple of weeks ago I called my sister, Michele, and asked if she would participate with me in the 10th Annual Run for Food on Thanksgiving Day. This popular event is a 5K run/walk through Chico, California’s beautiful Bidwell Park. Michele agreed, and we registered online. Upon registering, I had 96 hours to train before the big event. Yikes! I had never registered or participated in a 5K run/walk EVER!
So what did I do? Over the next 96 hours, my preparation included:
- Finding and dusting off my running shoes in my closet
- Researching on Google to see how far a 5K run/walk was
- Asking my sister how long it takes to walk a mile
- Buying festive turkey hats for my sister and me to wear on the big day
- Asking my dad to please pick up our registration packets and t-shirts to avoid having to arrive any earlier on event day
- Asking my Facebook friends for any last minute tips
Given the extent of my preparation, I was in no way physically prepared for the challenge ahead. Thanksgiving Day arrived. My sister and I had slept less than six hours the night before, and we skipped breakfast. We got into position with a crowd exceeding 5,000 participants, took some photos, and off we walked. After we made it to the finish line, somewhere around 10:15 a.m. (1 hour and 12 minutes later), we were offered water, bananas, and chips. Thank goodness…nourishment at last!
Was I prepared for this 5K run/walk? No! I was cold, tired, hungry, and my legs hurt. Did I fail as a result of not being the most prepared and trying something for the first time? No! My morning was filled with good conversation, exercise, laughter, photos, fun, and a special memory.
Should I ever choose to participate in a 5K run/walk again I now have some new insights:
- Establish a training program and prepare in advance
- Involve others in the preparation
- Wear proper running/walking attire suitable for the elements
- Embrace the moment
- Beat my time of 1 hour and 12 minutes
More often than not, we allow the lack of preparation, fear, or a lack of confidence to prevent us from trying something new for the first time. Prepare and over prepare when it really matters. Otherwise, allow yourself to have some fun without setting the bar too high when trying something new. In the particular example of the 5K run/walk, does it really matter if I came in 12th place or 3,456th place? No! What matters is that I chose to make a $30 voluntary contribution to support programs that provide food and services to those in need in Chico, CA, enjoyed time in the outdoors with my sister, and got some exercise.
It is my wish for each of us that we not overthink the next time we have the opportunity to do something for the very first time. We may not be very good at it at first, but with a positive attitude, we can embrace the opportunity and expand our horizons. Life is too short to not enjoy more moments where we can experience something for the first time.
So as my fellow turkey trotters might say, “go ahead…stick your neck out and strut your stuff!”