Ever since I started running, my friends encouraged me to participate in competitions. Exactly two years ago, on 9th of April 2016, I did precisely that. Just a 5k run across one of the largest local parks. How hard could it be?
It took me well over 40 minutes to cross the finish line, applauded by my friends who were already there. Then there was another run, this time 10k. We waited for it to end, as there was to be a lottery of gadgets following the medal ceremony. Everything went well, until the unthinkable happened. I heard my name in the context I never expected.
“And the persistence award for 5k run goes to Mr Lukasz Olczyk, who was the last to cross the finish line, yet made it!”
Oh. My. God.
And then they’ve noticed it was my birthday, so a song was in order. That’s me faking cheering during that very moment, wearing a customized XL t-shirt my friends gave me.
I had many reasons for my result. Just the day before, I returned from a trip to Asia, so I could blame the jet lag. Thing is, it doesn’t affect me. I was also a bit ill, so it affected my performance too, clearly. Though it was just a slight cold. Also, the surface was slippery, forcing me to be extra cautious.
These were not excuses. These were lies.
As I stood there embarrassed, I knew exactly what was the point.
I was fat, untrained, and uncommitted.
No wonder my results were that bad.
It was one of the greatest things that could’ve happened to me back then. I told to myself “hell no, this will NEVER happen again”. Unprecedented surge of commitment pushed trainings to the top of my priorities, where it remains to this day.
Nowadays, I can run half-marathon at a way faster pace than that 5k. Without looking like dying (though perception may vary).
And that tight fitting t-shirt? I wore it to the gym this morning. It’s so loose, I looked ridiculous. Good. I might make it a tradition to wear it every year, to remind myself of how much I improved over time.
My failure was extremely painful. As were my broken relationships, lost clients, and missed opportunities. It always hurts, that’s how we’re made. But there are always options of how to deal with them.
You can retreat to safety, decide it’s not for you and let the memory decay. It is the default, easy decision.
You can look at yourself in the mirror and strike back, laying furious anger and great vengeance upon the past you.
It’s always your choice.