Stories are influential. They have power to connect, inspire, teach, and hopefully entertain in a profoundly personal way. The great thing is, everyone has more than a few to share. So I’ve invited some friends to share segments of their own stories here over the next few weeks.
I hope you connect with them.
Leading the charge is Bryant Malone, a great visionary and better friend!
Okay. Not really.
But that’s how I felt a few months ago when I decided to sign up for my first ever 5k. I had run in a few 5k’s before, but this was the first time I sought out, paid for and actually ran in a 5k.
I am not a runner. In fact, I mostly hate running. I’d much rather be watching Netflix, reading tweets, or eating at a fine dining establishment (aka Chick-fil-A). I think I was born in the wrong generation to be honest. Nobody went running for fun in the 50’s. I think I belong there. Instead I’m surrounded by a culture of runners. More power to them.
One of those runners/coworkers/friends is a guy named Lee, who recently got involved with an organization called Care for Aids. He and a group of friends wanted to support Care For Aids by organizing a 5k. I decided to begin training in February for the race which would take place in April.
Training for months to run in a race is not out of the ordinary.
Training for months to run in a race that is only 3 miles long, extraordinary.
I had two goals:
2. Finish in less than 30 minutes.
Right now you’re thinking: “Olympics!?” Don’t give up on me just yet.
After months of preparing, I had actually found a good rhythm for running and was having fun doing it. I found a spot I really liked to run, I found a schedule that worked for me, and I found apps that helped me out. I was getting in a flow and running faster than ever.
The week of the race approached and my expectations really weren’t high. Just finish, and finish in under 30 minutes. Seemed pretty achievable.
What happened that day far exceeded anything I could have asked for! I didn’t run quite as fast as I expected, finishing in 31 minutes. I also didn’t quite finish.
Yes I crossed the finish line…but I stopped to walk around 2.5 miles.
I actually failed at both of my goals.
Regardless, the day still exceeded expectations! Something happened I could have never imagined happening in 100 years.
On April 25th, 2015—I WON FIRST PLACE!
WHAT?! I ran slow as molasses and I won first place! That’s not even a humble brag. I ran super slow compared to most people my age, but came in first!?
Olympics don’t seem so crazy now do they?
But, there’s a catch.
You see, on April 25th something happened that is pretty normal for Atlanta in the spring. A line of heavy thunderstorms rolled through the previous evening making the weather absolutely terrible. As the morning arrived, it took everything in me to get out in the rain. I did it anyways.
Come to find out, everyone else who signed up in my age bracket couldn’t brave the weather. Thus, I finished in first and last place.
A lot fell into place for me to medal at my first real 5k. For starters, the storm kept a ton of people away from the race, though there was still a good turnout. Second, if it was 2 months later I would have been in a higher age bracket (I’m getting old) and would have fallen way below the top 3.
The lesson I learned that morning was this:
Sometimes, you just gotta show up.
You see, our generation is really good at a lot of things. We kill it with technology. We support things we believe in. We are even bringing back 80s music.
…but we suck at showing up. We aren’t good at showing up for our friends or family. We aren’t good at showing up for job interviews. We have very real commitment issues.
These issues result from a lot of things. We fear rejection. We are inclined to be selfish with our time (Netflix binge anyone?) We overbook ourselves. Our priorities are out of order. Sometimes things just don’t always work in our favor. I could have showed up for 1,000,000 races before that and never placed.
Despite unfavorable circumstances with the weather, I chose to do the harder thing. I chose to just show up. Making the harder choice created a memory I’ll never forget with my friends, and resulted in a landslide race victory.
Next time you have to choose between avoiding a less-than-ideal situation and actually showing up, choose the harder option.
You never know what may be in store.
(Follow Bryant on Twitter here)