I sit here on this rainy Saturday morning, staring morosely out the window. We’ve had a so much wet snow in the past twenty four hours that we can’t possibly run because of the slush. My aching butt is still recovering from the fall I took on a patch of ice two weeks ago; I don’t know if I could run even if I wanted to. I’m depressed.
I have a half-marathon race coming up in two weeks and my training is on hold. I’ve wanted to run a half-marathon for three years now and have been sidelined because of injury. Now, only four weeks before this third attempt at the half-marathon, I fell hard on a patch of ice. My first thought as I lay on the ice was not “Is anything broken?”, but “Awww, not again”. I have a nagging suspicion that I am sub-consciously sabotaging myself.
So that’s the big question; why am I doing this to myself? I know I can run thirteen miles. I could do that any day of the week and it wouldn’t be a stretch. Somehow, the difference seems to be in my ability to run the distance any time I want, and doing it in the confines of a race surrounded by hundreds of other people. Some of the people will undoubtedly be faster than me, and some will be slower.
I don’t harbor any illusions that I’ll be winning anything in this race. I could easily be called an “above average” runner, but I’m not the faster girl on the block or even in my age group. Therefore, I can safely cross “fear of losing” off my list of possible reasons my body is holding back.
Something about the idea of being able to run thirteen miles in the privacy of my own life, and then doing it in a race is striking a chord. I adore the freedom of choosing when and where to run. But when the ante is upped, I’m left wondering if I can rise to the occasion. I’ve found plenty of reasons in the past to NOT do the things I’ve yearned to do (travel, a career, becoming a master gardener). And yet, when I’ve really and truly wanted something, like obtain a Master’s degree, I’ve found support and the means that I needed to succeed. I’m left with the nagging question; do I have an unrequited fear of success, of being seen as a person who is accomplished and capable?
To break it down even further, I have to go back to a recurring theme in my life; a fear of being seen. As a high school student I loved theater but fought tooth-and-nail against being on stage, even when it became clear that I had strong potential as an actor. I became a stagehand, so that I could participate in the darkness, undercover, incognito. I resisted being in high-profile classes, being on a team of any sort, dressing or even talking in a way that would cause me to be noticed. As it was, loads of unwanted attention came my way anyway, and I was often flustered and uncomfortable.
Fast forward to the present. I’m more comfortable in my skin and have lost many of the inhibitions of speaking in public, wearing pretty colors, and generally being noticed. I earned my Master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Management and have started a part-time job where I meet people and interact with them on a daily basis. I’m comfortable saying what I think and standing up for my self, kids, morals, ethics, etcetera.
What does this have to do with a half-marathon? It hasn’t escaped me that running a race is a metaphor for many aspects of my life. For some reason I’ve created a “mock-up” of what this race is supposed to be and how I fit into the picture, just as I’ve created pictures of what my life should look like. I’ve toyed with the idea of dropping out of the race and using the excuse of injury. Certainly an injury is a valid excuse, except that I’m not severely injured and I know for a fact that it would be a major cop-out.
I’m venturing into uncharted territory. I’m stretching my current mold and I have no idea what I’m going to look like when all this transformation is finished. A few months ago Karley made a very astute comment about the past four years. “You’ve gone to great lengths to transform yourself and re-make yourself into the woman you want to be.” This is true. It’s a scary process but I’m coming out the other side stronger, wiser and more confident. The depths that I’m traveling are hard and scary, but it’s work that I have to do. Therefore, I think that I have to go forward with this race and come out at the finish line. Something about the process of racing and stepping up to the plate to play holds a key to some intensely uncomfortable personal growth.