All around me, I keep seeing it. My instagram is filled with inspiration to get over it. I’m seeing it in my own child. I’m feeling it in my runs. It’s coming up in conversations. It seems to be my driving force since I set out on this quest to run marathon #2.
Fear, or the act of overcoming it.
Seriously, I see it everywhere.
My long runs have now shifted to Sunday mornings. I’m no longer running when I want, how I want, or by myself. This weekend I met my running coach for my long run. I started the run with another one of his runners who is also training for a fall marathon. She is a much stronger runner than me, so we did our two-mile warm up together before she took off down the trail.
Saturday night I couldn’t sleep. I had “first day of school” jitters. When you run with your coach, a group of people or a friend, there is no hiding. There is no room for self-doubt, fear, or other self-imposed nonsense. Knowing I’ve been plagued by all three lately added another level of fear to Sunday’s run. What was I afraid of? Maybe that I wasn’t capable of hanging with the fast crowd or maybe that I wasn’t ready for real training. Maybe I was afraid that I didn’t have the mental toughness required to get down the long, boring, straight Cape Henry Trail? Maybe I’m not ready for the marathon?
Whatever it was, it is all self-induced. I have to fight my way through it.
Sunday afternoon the family packed up the beach cart and headed to Sandbridge. Body Boards, the Beater, buckets, shovels, beach chairs, towels, and lunches were placed like puzzle pieces for the walk through the sand. When we arrived, the waves were small but picture perfect. It was the perfect day to get Cole out on a surf board.
He refused to go. After much begging, Christian took him out past the breaking waves. Together they waited for the perfect wave to find them. Cole protested. He complained. He panicked. One wave was enough for him. He pouted back up the beach straight to his chair. He didn’t like the beach anymore. He was afraid of sharks, and he couldn’t see in the water. We left him in his chair to pout.
As his mom, I know better. I know the driving force behind his meltdown is fear. It’s a fear of the unknown, a fear of failure, and a fear of just not being good at surfing. I also know that nothing I can say will change his mind until he is ready. While he pouted, Christian surfed. I played in the water with Chet. Before I knew it, Cole was back out in the water with his own body board. He paddled out past the shore break. He was smiling. He caught a few waves before he decided he was done for the day. He then joined Chet and I in the surf and the sand for the rest of the afternoon. He now talks like he is professional surfer, and I know that his initial fear is far behind him.
“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.” ~Richard Bach
The first mile and a half to the trail flew by on my run Sunday morning. I knew it was fast for me, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I sat on the heels of my running partner, and I let her guide me. When we hit the trail, we both set out to run our plan. She pulled ahead. I fell back. My only focus was on surviving the 3.5 mile stretch that is the Cape Henry trail. I had stomach problems the whole run. We think too much breakfast was to blame. My head was tense. I couldn’t find mental comfort in my run. Tension took over my brain while the need to throw up took over my stomach.
My coach bounced back and forth between the two of us via his bicycle. He has a great way of simplifying things. Everything seems manageable. Yet, I struggled. My lungs felt good. My legs felt fine. My brain would not cooperate. I played mental games to try to help myself: positive affirmations, magnets along the trail (get to that tree, find that mile marker, pass that runner, etc.), my new marathon mantra. Nothing was working. Behind all that surface level positivity, a deeper level of fear still exists. Doubt has creeped into my brain, and I need it to go away. Maybe I need to write the mantra 1000 times until I believe it. Maybe I need those affirmations on every wall I look at. Maybe I just need to give myself a little more credit.
I finished my 12 mile run feeling a little mentally defeated, a little more eager to figure out what works for me nutritionally, and not nearly as physically exhausted as I had expected by the increase in miles.
I needed a moment to process these stupid fears of mine so I can get back in the game. I needed to sit in my lawn chair and gather my thoughts so I can jump back into the surf. It’s time for a dose of “Get over it Kristy”.
No one cares how fast I run but me.
This marathon won’t matter if I can’t find the confidence and strength to get it together mentally
This time last year, I ran 14 trail miles at an 11:55 pace! This weekend’s run was 12 miles at 9:22 pace! 2 minutes and 33 seconds faster per mile. This time last year, I ran 8.25 road miles at a 10:19 pace. My road miles are in the 8s now. My goal after the Crawlin Crab last October was long runs in the 9s and short runs in the 8s. This has been accomplished.
So while I’m giving myself these pep talks to be brave and to find strength, I also need to be gracious to myself. I’ve come a long way in a year. I have a long way that I want to go, but it doesn’t happen over night.
I walked away from this post to do my recovery run. The words I had written flooded my brain. Surprisingly my legs felt okay after my 12 mile run. I settled into the run. I ran my normal route to the river. When I got to the water’s edge, I realized what has been missing from my runs lately. My brain has been so focused on where I’m going, what I’m working towards, that I’m forgetting where I am. I’m forgetting to enjoy right now.
Dreaming big is important. Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone is crucial for engaging with the world. But the journey is meant to be enjoyed. The reason those big dreams are so fulfilling is because they add a vibrancy to life. Forgetting to celebrate the journey, the moments of now, is forgetting to love life.
So here’s to enjoying now! Here’s to enjoy the success of this very moment! Here’s to celebrating the journey. Here’s to dreaming big, hanging on, and appreciating the process: the good, the bad, the easy, the hard, the boring, and the amazing. Here’s to enjoying now.
This weekend’s run: 12 miles
8:55, 8:55, 9:07, 9:21, 9:17, 9:21, 9:30, 9:40, 9:34, 9:45