Do you remember what it was like when you started out? When you were a new runner at your very first race? When you were the newbie in what is now your “can’t miss” yoga or Zumba class?
Close your eyes for a minute and think back to that time in your life when you were the one trying something new. Were you excited? Nervous? Scared a tiny bit or scared a helluva lot? Anxious?
Whether it was last week, or 10 years ago, we were all new to something at some point. I remember feeling so intimidated at my first spin class several years ago. I remember thinking “those people are hardcore, that class is not for people like me, someone who gets winded after a flight of stairs.” I took the class anyway. Dang, it nearly killed me but I survived and even went back a few times. At my first yoga class, I was full of apprehension. I survived that too.
Something happened to me recently that has me thinking about what it’s like to be the newbie and what it’s like to feel excited about a new endeavor: I ran a 5k with someone who had never been in a race before. This was a race I’ve done for about 10 years in a row now, if not more. While it is one my all-time favorites, there is also a bit of me that goes into auto-pilot mode when I’m on the course and just thinking about finishing the race so I can get on with the rest of my day.
Things look different when you’re with a newbie and you’re looking at the world (or the race, or the Zumba class or the spin class or that rock climbing wall) through their eyes. She is a new friend and a new runner. She was so excited to be doing her first race and when we talked about our “strategy” at the starting point, she pushed me, the rookie, past my comfort zone. “Let’s start out by running 20,” she said, meaning run 20 consecutive minutes, something I as a run/walker had never done in a race before, let alone not right from the start line. But I did not want to disappoint her and her enthusiasm was contagious, and so run 20 we did. And after just a brief 3 min walk, we pretty much ran the whole rest of the race. I ran more in this 5k than I had ever run in any 5k before (and I have done too many to count).
We chit-chatted about the things that we saw along the way such as the people on their stoops cheering for us that I had taken for granted. The pride and joy on her face after crossing the finish is something I think about three weeks later that still causes me to smile.
So newbies, thank you for being brave. Keep it up. Please keep it up. You never know who you may be inspiring.