I also often am afraid to push myself to my full potential...I am afraid to fail.
On Saturday, April 27th, I ran the Get in Gear half marathon up in Minneapolis. For the first time in a long time, I set a goal and I went after it. I wanted sub 1:50 and at least a PR (under 1:52). I felt like this was within my capabilities. I have been feeling strong in my recent runs.
Except. I panicked. I felt exhausted. I had no energy. And I put too much pressure on myself. I didn't run my race. And I was controlled by external factors, rather than a calm mind, physical strength, and confidence.
I held on until mile 8 and then had to give in. I had pushed too far and my body was rebelling because of it. My breathing was off, I was dehydrated, I had little strength left to carry on. I wanted to take my first DNF. The only thing that kept me going was my brother. His face, fighting with every ounce of energy he had left, to finish his first marathon...kept flashing through my mind. So I told myself, this will be tough, but you will fight on.
I finished in 2:01, after holding pace for 1:51 through 8 miles. It was brutal those last 5 miles. Quite possibly 5 of the hardest I have ever run. But I made it.
I was bummed after. Frustrated. Disappointed. Confused. And far less confident. Why? Why did this happen? I knew deep down I was capable of more. Why did I fall short...again?
I gave myself the rest of that day to feel those feelings. And then promised Monday I would wake up focused on learning and growing.
This past Saturday, I tried again at the Grandad Half in La Crosse, WI. I was honestly terrified. I tried once and it was miserable. I fell short. Maybe where I thought I was in my mind...is not accurate. What if it happens again?
The start was freezing. Foggy. I was still waking up. I couldn't believe I was about to attempt another 13.1 with a PR in mind.
As I crossed the start. I took a deep breath. I repeated "run within yourself, run within yourself." I kept my breathing calm. Took in the sights around me. And tried my absolute best to run by feel and ignore my watch.
I felt anxious until mile 8. Where I had to give in the week prior. But I still felt strong. I mentally prepared myself until mile 9 and then knew I had to drop my pace down to finish strong and meet my goals.
I took a deep breath and went after the last 5, this time, with my heart and mind, instead of just my body.
I continued to ignore my watch because I knew if I saw the paces I would panic...if they were slower than my goal pace...I would be hard on myself, if they were right on...I'd freak out because "I am not 'that' fast"
As I hit the last aid station. I didn't know where I stood but I could tell by feel I would be close. The words "self-compassion" flashed through my mind. And I simply stated, "Catch your breath, grab a drink, refocus, and then run your heart out and don't stop until the finish. Julia, no matter what happens in the next 20 minutes, I am so proud of you."
I ran. I ran with my heart. I was kind to myself. I believed. I did not quit. I did not slow down.
I crossed the finish in tears at 1:49:19.
A 2 year old PR crushed. A barrier I never thought I'd break, broken.
I am scared of failure. But when I do allow myself to fall. I am reminded of the great potential for growth following such a fall. I am reminded of how those falls reinvigorate my soul and drive me to become stronger and to believe in myself more. I am reminded that the accomplishments following a perceived failure...are that much sweeter.