Last weekend I completed my first official 5k (3.1 miles), realizing my first short-term goal towards my long-term goal to walk a half marathon (13.1 miles). Now I say “official” because I’m pretty much walking a 5k every week around my neighborhood. Well technically, more than a 5k. For example on Sunday, August 9 I walked four-and-a-half miles and Sunday, August 2 I walked four-and-one-third miles.
So I entered Sunday, August 16’s “A Run Through History” 5k at Lake View Cemetery prepared. Well, at least prepared physically. While on the course I encountered an unexpected challenge.
As you can see from the results below I finished in last place amongst my age group. Actually I finished last overall, crossing the finish line at one hour, two minutes, and 44.4 seconds.
My younger brother Nick and I completed the walk together. For the first mile or two we trailed two women with dogs and they trailed two young women. Early on I thought “At some point I should be able to kick it into another gear and pass them.” Instead by the end I felt like this guy.
During my last half mile they started the 5k Awards which caused me to yell sarcastically “The 5k is not over yet!” One participant drove away in his car although upon seeing me he cheered me on. “Good job. Keep going!” After I finished I saw one food tent already closed and only fruit left at the other one.
Despite all the reasons I possessed to feel discouraged, I stayed positive. In a way I saw the “A Run Through History” 5k a reaffirmation, reaffirming my journey to self-acceptance (documented in my memoir Off Balanced). This point I highlight in my video reflection “Cerebral Palsy Be Damned! My First 5k.”
For those in a hurry or unwilling to turn off your music to watch the video, within I list the reasons I should feel positive. Going into the event I expected the 5k to take me an hour and 10 minutes. BOOM, expectation beat.
Then comes the detail I don’t consider last place, last place. Everyone who did not register, I finished above. There exists victory in just participation.
All great and worthwhile points but I sense I’m heading off topic. Allow me to refocus.
“A Run Through History” reaffirmed how these days I embrace my cerebral palsy (CP). In my video I ponder the way teenage Zachary might handle the encouraging “Good jobs,” concluding my teenage self would rudely say “Thank you” and take the remarks in a patronizing way. “Good job, last place!”
Said hypothetical response would extend back to the fact 10 years ago I felt embarrassed by my cerebral palsy. CP made me different and I incorrectly associated different with inferior. Rather than accepting me for me I desired to blend in with everyone else. Via rudeness I discouraged people from making any remarks which highlighted my differences.
Man, I am glad I’m over the embarrassment! Today I live a happier life because I embrace my cerebral palsy. I can enjoy an event like the “A Run Through History” 5k as opposed to becoming sidetracked by negatives.
Life becomes much more enjoyable when you accept your differences, a lesson I learned by experience and one I aimed to teach others by penning Off Balanced. If my post here interested you, checkout Off Balanced (available at Amazon). Make sure to leave a customer review too!
Until next time, remember. Don’t blend in. Blend out!