Friday, February 10, 2006

fear


I got overwhelmed by too much to do at the beginning of the week (not to mention traveling home from Baltimore while suffering from the stomach flu), and got into a very negative place. I realized then that my task now is to learn to accept the negative feelings inside me. It is only in the last 5 years I have learned not to be overwhelmed by them (and crash into feeling everything is ruined) but instead just ignore them and they will go away. The next step, it turns out, is to accept them, love even that part of myself, instead of ignoring them.

Gradually this week I have gotten back to a more positive place, and today's good news is that the candidate who was our first choice has accepted the job. I'm happy because I really felt comfortable with him and also because it means the search is over--otherwise I was going to have to arrange for another candidate to come in. But as part of that commitment to accepting my negative feelings, I want to write about my fears about tomorrow's race. If weather permits--they are predicting rain and snow for tonight and the race is at 8 am tomorrow. I won't run if it is raining hard--I might for a shorter race but three to four hours in the rain would be too long.

I did write about fears before my first triathlon last May, but I had rather forgotten them since. In May my fear was that I would feel badly if I came in last, and what helped me most was the idea I read that even if we are last behind us is a whole cloud of people who didn't have the courage to start the race. I never have come in last, even last July when I was injured, but I'm not afraid of it this time. I will be proud just to finish.

I'm a little afraid of not being able to finish. What if that odd sore muscle (or the abdominal muscles I strained with the stomach flu) really starts to hurt? Because of the long distance I did my last long run 10 days ago and haven't run since Monday (though I swam TWT) and my sense that I can run seems to been disappearing fast.

What I'm most afraid of, though, is feeling I don't belong. I don't expect to be able to finish within the 3 hour cutoff, though my experience from two triathlons is that these race organizers are very friendly about that. The experience of my last long run would say it could take me four hours, though I usually am a lot faster in a race than in training and hopefully I will see the benefits of having rested beforehand. I know someone who is walking the half-marathon, and he may be faster than me. I don't feel badly about being slow, but I'm hoping people will be friendly and supportive. There are only 101 people signed up for the half marathon, and some may give up because of the weather even if tomorrow turns out to be better than predicted, so it could be pretty lonely. The people I know who are running are all much faster than me.

I was trying to think earlier: what is the positive value of my fears? If I weren't afraid, I wouldn't realize I am being brave. Discovering that I can be physically brave is one of the things I have gotten out of this athletic journey. My fears prepare me for what might go wrong, though I do more of that than I need to. My fears are a way of gearing up to do something hard, a kind of anticipation and a way of building up energy. Fear and excitement go hand in hand.

I was annoyed by something that gave me the impression that a former therapist thought that my main problem was fear. I don't think fear is for me a stumbling block, just a part of the path.

1 comment:

nancytoby said...

Have a great race! Courage isn't lack of fear, courage is doing it anyway despite the fear. :-)