“What if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly” ~ Erin Hanson
There’s a lot going on in my head that I need to unpack. So let’s just start: The truth is that I’m scared to run this marathon. I wish I’d only signed up for the half (or really, the half and the 5k). I’m over the training and the long runs. I’m over being hungry all. the. time. My pace isn’t what I want or think it should be. I haven’t done anywhere near enough hill work, judging by the stories I have heard from others who have done this race. Oh, and forever nagging at the back of my mind is the whole “you don’t look like a runner…” thing (which I admittedly have not heard for awhile, but I have had it said to my face and if you’re like me, that sticks with you).
Lots of people have been abuzz about this ‘you don’t look like a runner thing’ lately. Most non-runners imagine that all runners look like the elites they see on TV or news clips. The fact is that most runners don’t look like that. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to running. And performance and ability CAN NOT be judged based on what someone looks like. It just can’t. It’s not a determining factor. People of all shapes, sizes, ages, etc. can be found throughout the pack at any race. Reminders of this have come at a time when I’ve been particularly hard on myself, when I’m already doubting myself and echoes of that person saying to me ‘no offense, but you don’t really look like a runner’ ring through my head. (Have the words “no offense, but…” ever been followed by something that wasn’t offensive? I think not.) Looks aside, I AM a runner. That is a fact. I have been running for 8 years. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but I have been running for 8 years. I have completed 6 (soon to be 7, for better or worse) full marathons, 50k on trail, and countless shorter races and runs. I AM A RUNNER. This is a runner’s body:
It’s not “perfect” (whatever that means). It’s been bigger. It’s been smaller. It’s been beaten up and abused, and yet mile after mile it continues to carry me. I’m not always nice to it, not always fair. But still it delivers for me, time and time again. I’m proud of it. (And for the record, it’s faster than it was when it was smaller…you can’t judge a runner by their body.) I have a troubled relationship with my body, I have struggled with it for longer than I care to admit. But yet it continues to do the things I ask it to. And when I can step back from the world telling me to critique every inch and finding myself in constant excess I’m amazed at what it can DO. It’s gone for 10 hours straight on trails. It’s plugged away for 7 hours on roads when I was so depleted I should’ve just quit. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. And the truth is that I’ve wanted to post a photo like this since this spring when I first got brave enough to wear a bikini on vacation, but I lost my nerve. I got scared and I backed off. Which is, unfortunately, my MO. And so now, even though I’m struggling, I’m putting it out there.
I’m scared of this marathon. I don’t know that I’ve trained hard enough for it. My initial time goal is out the window, but if the weather cools off some (please, for the love of all that is holy) I still might actually be able to manage a PR. The fact is that I’m overall faster and in better shape than the last time I ran a full marathon. So even though this is a tough course, I can’t count myself out. I’m going to go out there, give it my best, have as much fun as I can, and see what happens. I need to just stay in the moment and go with it.
I still haven’t broken 30 minutes in a 5k. I’ve excused it with the summer weather being awful. That I’m working on distance not speed right now. But the truth is I get scared and I back off. There comes a point when I could keep pushing and I don’t. I pull back. I let myself walk. I give myself minutes when I could just take 30 seconds and press on. The truth is that I’m scared of my potential–I don’t know who I am without the insecurity and what ifs. If I do it, if I pull it off, it’s one less thing I have to hold against myself. One less can’t. The world opens up, and that terrifies me. So I back off. But I’m seeing friends of mine break through. And then crush the next barrier. And I have to face myself and the truth that I am the only thing standing in my way. I can do this. I have to push through my potential and go for it.
And it starts with this blog post. And then the marathon. And then I’ll see where it goes from there. I know that I’ll stumble, I know I’ll get in my own way again, but I have to figure out how to push past
Til next time, friends.