January 15, 2011

Tossin' & Turnin'

Well, it's official.  The half-marathon nightmares have begun.
Let me back up a bit.  See, here's the thing.  I'm a worrier.  Big time.  I practically threw up in my car before each interview when I was looking for my teaching job.  In college during finals week, there were times I'd just sit and stare at the lists of projects and papers and studying that needed to get done, freaking out over them instead of actually just DOING it all.  When I get observed by my principal, I obsessively go over my lesson plans, practically memorizing them like a script (which I NEVER do on regular teaching days), then obsess over the many things that could go wrong during the lesson.  Case in point, my first observation this year.  Now, over the past five years or so I've managed to chill out a little bit.  While I'm still a pretty anxious girl, it definitely doesn't run my life in the way it once did, and I can usually separate reality from crazy-unrealistic-irrational thoughts in my head.

But I do still worry fairly intensely before trying something new.  Enter the race I've been blogging about... With so many people I know running marathons these days, part of me thinks a half-marathon is small potatoes.  But then another part of me remembers walking through the mile run in elementary school and using asthma to get out of PE, and I realize that it's definitely not small potatoes for me.  Actually, it's a pretty big deal for me, and like nothing I've ever attempted before.  Race?  Meet anxiety.

As the race gets closer (it's six weeks from tomorrow), I'm starting to get...nervous.  Nervous about the big things, like whether or not I will actually finish (irrational), getting ANOTHER injury before that time (mostly irrational, but given my recent track record, entirely possible), somehow missing my plane to or from Florida (irrational--I've never so much as had to run to catch a flight, thank YOU obsessively organized self), etc.  Nervous about the little things, like forgetting something important (irrational, obviously I will make an obsessive packing list and triple check), being late to the race (irrational), and a million other ridiculous things.

Case in point my dreams the past two nights:
First, it was a dream about running in Disney.  But I seemed to be the only one there, and I'm thinking it was maybe a practice run I somehow snuck in the day before...although being "the only one" ANYWHERE in Disney is completely silly and never happens, so who knows.  Anyways, I seemed to be running through some sort of JUNGLE setting, having gotten lost on the race course...there's a rational fear for ya...

Last night, it wasn't even about the Princess race.  I had decided to register for another half-marathon taking place 2 weeks before Disney Princess, and weirdly sponsored by my school district.  It was taking place at a local high school, and a triathlon was going on as part of the event too.  And it all started at 6pm.  Yes, after dark.  Obviously, everything went wrong.  Showed up late, couldn't find the bathroom to change into my running clothes which I'd brought with instead of worn, took forever to change because I couldn't find anything in my gym bag, especially my socks, something was off with my shoes (actually that's a rational fear given the shoe problems I've had in the past year), was late to the start, it was pitch black out by the time I STARTED the race, forgot my watch and water bottle...you name it.  Don't remember actually RUNNING the race, but I remember it being over and me wishing I had brought more food because I had to go to school and teach immediately after, and was worried I would keel over without a snack.  (Teaching at 9pm?  Huh...)
All totally rational possibilities, right?

This running thing is pretty new for me.  That's why it's so scary I think.  The truth is, it's scary for me to not know what to expect in a situation.  And I have no idea what to expect with the race.  I'm training, and I'm learning a lot about what works for me as a runner--which clothes, which foods, which music, etc.  But on race day, I really have no idea what to expect.  I don't like that.  I am also nervous because my 6 mile run last Sunday was tough tough tough, and I can't even imagine how I will make it through 13.1.  Trust the process, right?

All of that being said, I am ridiculously excited about the race.  Terrified, yes.  And maybe that's okay.  Because it's good to try something once in awhile that's so new and scary the very thought of it leaves you shaking in your nikes.  And even through all of this nervousness, I know in my bones that I will make it through the race and that it will be amazing.  Slow, sloppy, sweaty, yes.  I will probably be one of the last runners to cross the finish line.  But that will be okay. :)

Be afraid.  Be vulnerable.  Go out on a limb, or two, or twelve and you'll fall and it'll hurt, but the harder you fall the higher you'll rise. The louder you fail, the clearer your future becomes. Failure is a gift, welcome it. There are people who spend their whole lives wondering how they became the people they became. How certain chances passed them by. Why they didn't take the road less traveled.  Those people are not you.

You have the front row seats to your own transformation and in transforming yourself you might even transform the world. And it will be electric. I promise you it'll be terrifying, but embrace that. Embrace the new person you're becoming.  
This is your moment.  I promise you it is now. Now, not two minutes from now, not tomorrow, but really now. Own that, know that, deep in your bones knowing and go to sleep every night knowing that and wake up every morning remembering that and then keep going. Keep going. 

-jack & bobby


  1. It's not small potatoes and I know exactly how you feel. I ran my first half last March. I didn't thinnk I was ready for it and I was a nervous wreck. My stomach was in knots and I was terrified I was going to be the last one limping across the finish line in tears. I can't do anything to calm your anxiousness but I can tell you everyone else has been in the same shoes! You are preparing - you'll be ready.

  2. Hi, there! Thanks for the comment over on my blog! This is a great post, and it's always nice to find & connect with people who are going through the same thing. Good luck on your half in a few weeks, I'll definitely be following along!


  3. PS- my fiance just got his teaching license and will be applying for his first teaching job soon - he wants to teach middle school science, but is licensed for 4th-9th grade... any advice? :-)

  4. abbi- thank's for the empathy and the confidence boost. i brought that confidence on my 7-mile run this morning (my furthest distance yet!) and it helped me power through!!

    Janene- Thanks, and I'll be following your training too! As far as your fiance goes, I have plenty of advice, most of which I learned from what I call my "baptism by fire" first year in the classroom last year. Please feel free to share my blog with him if he'd like to read about the antics in the classroom! But as far as the application process goes, the best advice I can give is apply early and apply EVERYWHERE! Teaching jobs are tough to come by these days, so the more districts that have your application, the better.


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