We’re often capable of doing more than we think possible.
Especially when it involves the things that scare the ever-living daylight out of us.
For years, racing has been a huge part of my life. I love running, and there’s something about stepping on the starting line and then pushing myself past my limits for however many miles it is that thrills me and brings me joy. It had been more than a year since I toed that starting line, and the thought of doing so was actually pretty scary to me.
If you know some of my story, then you know that 2017 was a tough year for me. I had three kidney surgeries, and these were just toppings to all of the heartache and other stuff I had going on. Then there was that whole packing-up-my-entire-life-and-moving-across-the-country thing. I hadn’t raced since last Thanksgiving, and that race isn’t one I like to think about much because I was in such tremendous pain (thanks, kidneys).
But lately I’ve had the urge to race again, and even though I knew I wasn’t in the shape I wanted to be in yet, I figured I’m going to have to start somewhere. Before I could talk myself out of it, I registered for a race and committed to at least trying to get a little ready for it.
Though I put in a few weeks of harder workouts than I’d done in what seemed like forever, I didn’t feel like I was completely ready to be out there in the racing scene just yet. I needed more time, especially after having strep recently. I started thinking of a number of excuses of why I wasn’t ready, including the surgeries, the strep, the concern of air quality (never an actual concern of mine), the fact that I wouldn’t have my family there to cheer for me and hold my stuff while I ran, I’m not familiar with the area and didn’t know the course well enough (even though I very rarely know a course unless I’ve run the race multiple times), I had a really busy Saturday and would be crunched for time (I logistically had plenty of time), my left contact was irritating me (really?), and so many other ridiculous reasons of why I should wait to try running against other people again.
But there was one that outweighed all of the others that I didn’t want to admit to myself: I was scared.
I was scared of failing. I was scared of not running fast. I was scared of not winning or even being one of the top contenders. I was scared of being a disappointment, even though I’d only really be disappointing myself.
The morning of the race, I almost talked myself out of it. Even after I drove to the race site and picked up my bib and T-shirt, I thought about just going home and running on my own—I wasn’t ready for this. But something within me whispered, “Be brave.” I told myself that I need to do the scary things sometimes because, in the end, they’ll make me stronger. I knew I’d regret walking away when an opportunity was right there in front of me.
I ran the race. I’m not going to lie—it was ugly. After .46 miles of running on an unexpected dirt trail, I wanted to stop, but I sang “the first mile’s the toughest,” a different rendition of Sheryl Crow’s lyrics “the first cut is the deepest,” and I kept going. It hurt. I am S-L-O-W. If I ever want to compete near the level where I used to be, I have a lot of work ahead of me.
You know what happened, though? I did it. I may not have done well, but I also didn’t regret anything. I got out there and gave it what I could, and then I went about my day without dwelling on it much more. I know that running isn’t everything, and the fact that I’m not currently at my fastest doesn’t mean I can’t find joy in other places on the very same day of a bad race.
I was able to have a great time a little bit later with my friend Ashley as we drove up to Redondo Beach to eat at the same diner featured in The O.C. and then visit a Taylor Swift pop-up shop near LA.
Life is filled with a lot of scary moments, and I think it’s important to do the scary things—those things that make us feel anxious and highly intimidated. Whether it’s racing or asking someone out or saying “I love you” or going on an adventure all by yourself or auditioning for a play or trying out for a team or performing in a talent show or learning to do something you’ve never done before or entering your work in an art show or going back to school or whatever it is, do the scary things.
Because, more times than not, they are absolutely worth it.