The Page About My First Ever 5K Race, Measuring Success, and Having Fun

Episode 76

How often do you measure success by whether you achieved a specific result? You want to hit a particular number – on your watch, or your floor scale, or in your bank account.

And you have to hit that number 100%, 99% doesn’t count.

You set expectations for yourself and then heroically try to meet them. And if you don’t, you get discouraged and blame yourself.

But let me ask you – what if those expectations were unrealistic in the first place? What if this number was impossible to hit no matter how hard you try?

I am here to tell you – there is a better way to measure success.

In this episode, I’m sharing the story of how I spontaneously decided to run a 5K race, the first ever in my life, how I did not come in first, or second, or even third, and how it still became something that I am super proud of.

Tune in on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or continue reading.

I used to hate running. I used to hate all PE really. When I was a kid, I was absolutely the worst at PE, and I am not exaggerating. For every subject, except PE, I was getting all A’s. I was so bad at PE that my grades would’ve been D’s and F’s but my teachers felt bad for me and were giving me A’s just to not mess with my otherwise excellent performance (and they probably didn’t want to mess with the school performance stats either). Anyway, I hated PE, including walking, jumping, and running.

But in 2018 things changed.

I got tired of being overweight and feeling crappy, and I bravely decided to start working with a personal trainer. He held me accountable, he taught me what to do with all that scary equipment in the gym, and slowly I fell in love with being active. I started to feel better, and stronger, and before I knew it physical activity was not a chore anymore. It became something I truly and deeply enjoyed.

At some point, I bought a treadmill and started running indoors, but I couldn’t make it a habit – it was too boring. And in 2019 when my future husband and I moved in together and rented a house in Beverly Hills, I was so blown away by how pretty the whole neighborhood was that I wanted to try running outdoors

It was October and I had a friend back in Ukraine who would run outside almost every day and would post stories on Instagram from her 3, 5, to 7-mile runs. It was already pretty cold in Ukraine at the time. So I said to myself, that if she could do it when it was cold and gloomy outside, I have absolutely no excuse to not do it with the beautiful dry sunny LA weather. And all the palm trees, colorful flowers, and pretty houses everywhere! And there are no hills! There is just no better place to run!

At first, I could barely run for 10 minutes. But soon I ran for a mile, then I hit the 2-mile mark, and then the 3-mile mark.

I discovered that running brings me peace of mind, and I started using it as a therapeutic measure when I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

I started looking forward to my runs, and would often run back home after walking my daughter to school. Often I could not wait to grab my running shoes after a long busy work day. Running became my way to meditate and to clear my mind. It stopped being a physical activity that one does to lose weight – it became something non-negotiable that I need to have in my life to maintain my sanity.

A couple of years later we moved to Houston, but my love for running did not go away. Yeah, the weather here is not fun. It rains much more often than in LA, and when it’s not raining the chance is high that it’s too freaking hot and humid to be running outdoors. Thankfully, we live right across the street from Rice University – a private school with a gorgeous campus that is surrounded by a 3-mile-running trail. Add hundred-year-old oak trees that generously provide shade, soft gravel under your feet that makes running nice and comfortable, and campus buildings that look like castles – you have the best possible place to run in the whole city of Houston. And that place is right outside my front door.

At some point in my running journey, I started thinking about participating in a real race.

At some point. Sometimes I would even have shy thoughts that “maybe someday I will run a marathon or maybe a half marathon”. But I am not crazy, I realize how much training goes into the preparation for a marathon, and I also realize that I don’t have that amount of time at my disposal right now. But one can dream, right? Maybe someday!

A few months ago, my husband, myself, and our daughter were walking around the Rice campus – we do that sometimes when the weather is nice and when we are looking for a quick and easy way to spend some time together as a family. We were already heading home when I saw a sign not far from our house:

“5K and 10K race – Rice University running trail – open to the community”

Oh, that is interesting! When is it?

Next Sunday! Less than 2 weeks from today!

I turned to my husband – “Should I do it?”

“Sure, why not?”

But that is a real race, and I am not prepared, and I haven’t been running more than 3 miles lately. I haven’t even been running a lot lately honestly. But that would be fun…

We got back home and started cooking dinner, but that thought about signing up for this race got really stuck in my head.

It’s right across the street from where I live, it’s on the trail where I run several times a week! The race is at 7, so I’d need to be up at 6 probably – on a Sunday! But it’s a real RACE! And I have always wanted to experience what it is LIKE to participate in a real race! And I don’t have to drive anywhere – all I need to do is literally walk outside the door, and the starting line will be right there!

Screw it, I am gonna do it! And who cares what my time is or what place I finish at – I will participate in a real race and this is what matters!

Listen to the full story on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Until next time,

Olena xx

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