As my friend and I stood at the starting line of our 5K this past Saturday, the celebrity speaker (or rather, a somewhat-known local with some free time) tried to pump up the crowd.
Relatively little attention was being paid to this guy.
Not that he could be blamed; it’s a challenge to get a group of people, moments away from racing, to focus on anything but the butterflies in their stomachs.
Desperately reaching for something to feed his ego grab the crowds’ attention, the guy asked, “Who’s first 5K is this?”
To my surprise, more than half the people in the crowd raised a hand.
Really? First 5K? But you’re 30-ish years old…
I suppose this is where a little of a bias comes in. Confession: I actually can’t remember my first 5K.
My parents have always been active. Some of my earliest memories are of my dad coming back from a wintertime run with icicles hanging from his nose or of my mom disappearing on three-hour long training runs.
To me, this was just what they did. It didn’t seem unusual.
I often spent weekends “competing” in local races with my parents. During these runs, my parents didn’t push me to win and didn’t scold me for walking. Instead, the runs were simply bonding experiences, where we all had fun exercising.
It wasn’t until I hit my teenage years that I realized my family was a little bit unusual.
I was surprised to see that other kids’ parents didn’t work out almost every day. I was absolutely shocked to think that some parents never worked out… that was simply beyond my comprehension.
Although I’ve adjusted to the idea that not everyone works out, I still can’t help but feel a little sorry for those who don’t know the sweetness of sweat.
I’ve had my own struggles with body image. I’ll even admit that at times I’ve used obsessive working out to fuel these insecurities.
However, at the heart of it all, I know that working out is really, truly a healthful release for me.
The diverse forms of exercise available are what make it just so therapeutic: You don’t have to run. You don’t have to bike. You don’t have to swim. You just have to try. Find what makes you happy.
As the race began and I set off weaving through crowds of people, I saw kids, teenagers, adults and older people. About one mile in, I realized that it doesn’t matter if you are 5, 15, 30 or 60 when you run your first 5K, learn to bike or master the freestyle. All that matters is doing it.
Life isn’t a race, afterall.