I’ve never really been a person who is scared or someone who worries about things out of my control. My typical MO is to charge into things (sometimes too quickly!) with a positive outlook and the thought that everything will turn out fine. As I’ve aged, however, life has thrown its share of curveballs at me and I have seen caution and even fear, enter my mind more frequently.
I began running five years ago after the loss of a child late in pregnancy. My physician suggested drugs to help my insomnia, but first I decided to try running as a way of physically exhausting myself. It worked. I slowly got stronger and healthier. I kept my competitive nature under control and told myself that I was perfectly content with just running 2-3 miles a night. It was MY drug and all was good. Then, my devoted P90X, uber-motivated husband started talking about a Thanksgiving “trot” that he had done several times in Cincinnati. He claimed I could handle it, he said the exhilaration of the moment would carry me. He told me about the scores of senior citizens who do this run, so surely I could handle it, too? Right??
Fear was beginning to creep in, but I decided to mentally commit. The race was a 10k (6.2 miles), so the week before, I ran a little longer than I normally do and although I was hesitant at the length of the race, I was feeling OK. The morning dawned, however, and well… I was genuinely scared. It didn’t help that the lead story on the news that morning was about a man who had suffered a near-death heart attack at last year’s race. Nice.
When we arrived at the starting line, I saw no gaggle of fit senior citizens as my husband had promised. Everyone around us was talking about the hills…incline is not good. Panic set in. As we set off, it was so crowded that I kept my head down and hoped that I didn’t trip and humiliate myself before the race really even got going. After the first mile, I felt pretty good, though I knew the hardest part was still ahead. As each mile passed, I started to feel relief that I might actually be able to finish. I even started telling myself I could finish the race in under an hour. Wait a minute? What the hell was I thinking… I just wanted to finish right? But sure enough the finish line loomed sooner than I thought and knowing I had a little left in me, I decided to kick it in gear. Suddenly, I was passing dozens of people with this feeling of total exhilaration.
Fear almost did me in, but this experience reminded me how easy it is to let barriers get in our way. I was my own worst enemy as I prepared for this race, but ultimately by pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and confronting my fear, I achieved something that I thought to be impossible. Now Scott is talking a half marathon since I did so well. Hmm… I’ll think about that when I can walk again.