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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mayday! Mayday!

May 27th, 2010 marked the 21st and final day that I wrote my marathon affirmation. I suppose I could have continued to write it beyond the three week period, but, by that time, I had begun to occupy myself with thoughts of pre-marathon preparation: packing, planning and panicking.

Yes, you heard me. Panicking.

My training for Vermont City had gone extremely well. I nailed my workouts and was in a state of great physical health. I was strong, energetic and felt physically ready. However, remember this daunting statement: Running is 80% mental and 20% physical.

On this 27th day of May, I worked 6-1 and zoomed back home to cram in a 4 mile run and quick shower before my 3 p.m. massage appointment. Since I would be running 26.2 miles in less than 72 hours, this was just supposed to be an easy run to keep my legs loose and my mind focused. The taper can really mess with you, as I've discussed before.

I got myself wired for sound (GPS and iPod) and headed out the door.

The first couple of miles were pretty uneventful. I just kept chugging along, enjoying the day.

Then, around mile 3, I felt this wave of nearly overwhelming panic wash over me.


I'm running a MARATHON in three days! Omigod, omigod, omigod...

What if I can't do it???

What if I start off too fast like I did in Hartford???

What if I fail??? Everyone I KNOW knows I want to qualify for Boston at this race!!!!

Those and other equally unproductive thoughts continued to assault my consciousness with an unrelenting force. I nearly crumpled under the weight of negativity that I had allowed to creep in.

And I willingly went right along with it, bathing in self-pity and retreating to the proverbial fetal position. For a little while.

Then, all of a sudden, something inside of me shifted.

Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is portrayed in the 2001 film Pearl Harbor, as saying after his attack on Pearl Harbor, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

That, my friends, is exactly what happened.

Remember that scene in the movie "A Christmas Story" when Ralphie reached his breaking point and goes postal on Scut Farkus? Well, my inner being proceeded to beat my chronic pattern of defeating thoughts into a bloody heap.

In other words, I had enough.

I was tired of doubting myself. I was fed up with not recognizing my worthiness. And I was SO done with this false modesty crap. When was I going to stand up and take notice of my indomitable spirit, character and ability?

Bob Harper, trainer from NBC's blockbuster reality show, "The Biggest Loser" is quoted as saying: Don't say 'I can't'. It really pisses me off. I work as a personal trainer/fitness instructor by trade, so I chuckled knowingly when I heard it. Truthfully, I would get frustrated with my clients and participants at times when they would shy away from going a little further or pushing a little harder. I would feel my blood boil when they uttered that paltry phrase.


And I would say to them, "you don't know if you can or you can't because you haven't tried. What you really mean to say is you don't want to. You're using your fear of failure as an excuse not to even try."

Wasn't I essentially doing the same thing here?

Dammit, it's just easier telling other people what to do. But, if you want to be true to yourself, you not only have to talk the talk.

You gotta walk the walk.

Or, in my case, run the run.

This time, I came to my own rescue. I heard the call of the frightened part of my personality that always feared she would never be enough. I decided, once and for all, it was time to choose me. It was time to believe in my ability to succeed, no matter what happens today, tomorrow or May 30th.

Of course, this was all happening internally as I ran that last mile home. Imagine all the motorists going by me, seeing me trot down Main Street. If only they knew about the transformation that was occurring in the heart and mind of the girl with the bouncing, blonde ponytail as she ran to, instead of away from, who she REALLY was.

The subsequent wave of relief that I felt after coming to terms with that was equivalent, in terms of intensity, to the shower of anxiety I was doused by just minutes before. But instead of being nearly overwhelmed, I was emancipated. Vindicated. Triumphant.

I'll say it again: I finally came to my own rescue. And it was high time I had.

This quote sums up that experience for me:

"Don't be afraid if things seem difficult in the beginning. That's only the initial impression. The important thing is not to retreat; you have to master yourself."

Olga Korbut
Gymnast - Four Time Olympic Gold Medalist

I'd say I earned that 90 minute massage, wouldn't you?

Crisis averted.

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