I Did a Thing!

I did a thing last Thursday. And it scared me a bit. I almost backed out. All things leading up to the thing seemed to point to ‘throw in the towel and go home!” But I did the thing and I’m so glad I did! it! I stepped out of my comfort zone and the thing exceeded my expectations!

So what did I do and why was it scary and almost not a thing for me? I competed in the Kentucky Senior Olympics as a master. And I won the race!!

But let's backtrack to why this almost didn’t happen. A few years ago a couple of my amazing 70-year-old students at my prior studio, 12South Pilates, told me about their experiences competing in the TN state and then National Senior Olympics. They both medaled Nationally! I was already impressed by these women but hearing about their Olympic success was just the cherry on top! One of the women, Anita, said to me, “Lucie, you should consider competing in the Senior Olympics!” I laughed and said, “Well I’m much too young for that!” That’s when she informed me the Senior Olympics starts at 50!!! I was shocked. While still in my forties that seemed much too young to me to be considered ‘Senior”. It became a running joke for me that at 50 I would compete in the Senior Olympics.

This Summer for curiosity sake I looked up the Kentucky Senior Olympics. I was hoping to see what kind of times Seniors in their fifties might be running. Instead, I realized they added a masters division this year - for us much younger 40-somethings! So I signed up for the 5K road race, the cross country race, and the 1-mile track event. I figured this would be my practice year. I had not really been training for anything so my expectations on what I could do were pretty low. I also generally don’t adjust well and perform well in heat and humidity.

As the 5K race approached, I began to question if this was a good idea. I had not trained. It was in Frankfort, KY - a city I am unfamiliar with, and it was scheduled for August one of the hottest months of the year. I decided to go anyway. I had no idea how many people would be there. I mean this was for the whole STATE of Kentucky so this thing could be huge. Add to that it was coupled with a United Way Race. I left early assuming packet pickup and parking may be backed up.

The information I had about the race whereabouts left much to be desired. It was listed in River Park amphitheater but no street address, no parking instructions and no additional information. I googled the park and crossed my fingers I had found the right place. I set out on my drive - a little over half an hour per Maps.

Once I approached about 2 miles out traffic came to a standstill. I thought - this must be a back from the race traffic!! Creeping along 10 minutes later and about 5 car lengths total I realized it was construction. Now I ran the risk of being late if this did not improve drastically. So I took an alternate route that added several miles but got me moving. After about 5 miles I saw a sign for the park just as I drove by it missing the turn. My GPS had also not announced my arrival at that point. One quick trip over a river, a u-turn, and back over the river and back to the park entrance I went. There were NO cars and no people and no signs of a race what so ever in that parking lot. This is the point I truly considered throwing in the towel and heading home. I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t know where I was supposed to be, and it didn’t look promising that I could figure it out in time.

I decided to drive a little farther down the main road hoping maybe there was another entrance to this park and I’d find the amphitheater and a race crowd. Sure enough, I did find another entrance a little ways down. This parking lot had approximately four cars in it. Again, not really a sign of an event going on! I parked anyway and figured I’d climb the stairs and see what was on the other side. I ran into a woman with a race number on and she guided me down the path to the race start. To say it was hidden and poorly marked would be a huge understatement!! I went to a table where a woman with a friendly smile was set up with a computer and I told her I was here to check-in for the Senior Olympics. This was not the check-in table! Foiled again! Fortunately, just a little way farther hidden under a tree and back in an alley I found the check-in for the race. They sure did make you work to find it, though!!

The race was smaller than I had expected. The other folks were friendly and it was a mixture of Seniors, Girls on the Run girls, and folks running for United Way. All started on time and we begin the out and back 3.1-mile course through the park. I realized early on I was near the front for the women and just maybe could do something if the heat didn't do me in. Fortunately, I brought my own hand-held water bottle as there was none on the course. After about a mile I was leading the women and not far off the lead male. By the finish line, I had managed to hold on to my lead for the woman and worked my way up to fourth place overall! What an exciting feeling! I had no expectations of this for my practice year with my lack of training.

I was so glad I persevered and found the race and actually did the thing. I had plenty of chances not to do it - but I did and I am thankful for the experience.

As I drove home, I thought about how discouraging it would have been to drive all the way to Frankfort and then turn around and go home because I couldn't find the race. I also thought about what if the race had gone poorly for me. Would that really have mattered? I'd still have run some miles that day and also gotten the experience for the next time. I thought about how we often talk ourselves out of the 'THINGS' that scare us or push us out of our comfort zone. I hear it all the time from folks - I've wanted to try Pilates for a long time but it intimidates me. I think we potentially miss out on some great experiences and great finds because we let fear of the unknown stop us.

Worst case scenario for me in this race? I ran terrible and the heat bothered me. Not really a good enough reason not to try! Worst case scenario trying something new like Pilates - you hate it and then you know and don't come back. We give fear too much power when usually what we are afraid of it not as huge as we've made it out to be.

This week I encourage you to do the THING - whatever that may be!