Facing My Fears

After years of despising running (see the last entry), I had finally started to like it.
Sometimes I even loved it.
Usually I loved it when it was all over and I was so proud of myself for doing the thing I never thought I could.
But as time went on, there were more and more moments while I was actually in the act of running that I found myself thinking, “this feels so good.”
Running cleared my head.
I liked the way it made me feel strong.
Running was starting to win me over.
And I couldn’t believe it.

One night while running on the hill with my friend Jocelyn, she asked me when I was going to run a race.
She suggested a half marathon, but I knew that was crazy talk, so I said I thought I could start with a 10K.
But I didn’t sound too sure of myself.
She encouraged me, and told me she knew I could do it.
It wouldn’t be much longer than what we ran on the hill every week, and wouldn’t have all those long, steep climbs.
By the time we done with our run, I was ready to sign up for a race.
It’s a good thing to have people who encourage (and maybe nudge just a little)  you to try new things, isn’t it?

It might have been wiser to start with a 5K, but I wanted to push myself.
I started looking at races and found one that I thought was perfect for me.
It was a 10K trail run in Orange County.
I’m an avid hiker.
There are few places I love to be as much as on a quiet,beautiful trail.
And the thought of running through green spaces rather than on concrete sounded wonderful to me.


As the race date approached, I wasn’t putting in much training the way I had planned to.
There were so many things that kept getting in the way of regular running–especially sick kids and then, inevitably, a sick Mommy.
And so, by race day, I hadn’t yet run 6.2 miles.
I did get new shoes a few weeks before the race though, so I was totally prepared.

The night before the race I went to pick up my race packet and came home to a banner and new water bottle, courtesy of my sweet and supportive husband.
All along, I kept dismissing the race as “only a 10K” , so part of me felt a little silly over the big deal I, and others, were making over this race.
At the same time, I couldn’t deny feeling thrilled that I was actually doing this thing I once thought I never, ever would.
My Facebook page was full of supportive, encouraging messages from my trainers, friends, and especially all the runners I knew.
They were so excited for me.
No one dismissed my efforts or the length of my race.
And kind, encouraging Jocelyn finally scolded me: “don’t let me hear you say, “just a 10K” again! This is your race.  It doesn’t matter how far you’re running. It matters that you are running!”


And so I ran.
They rang a bell for the start of the race, and we were off.
I wanted to pinch myself to see if this was real, because I really couldn’t believe it was happening.
But it was.
And after a bit, it was hard.
Harder than I thought it would be.
The trail was rough, and rocky.
And there were hills.
It grew hotter.
And it seemed like the race was never going to end.
The last hill was long and steep.
I wanted to give up and walk.
But I had told myself that I’d run the whole thing, and as hard as it was to keep to that goal, I was determined to do it.
Once I crested the hill, I thought it would be smooth sailing the rest of the way.
But as I started down the hill, I found out my knees didn’t work.
Every step was agony.
I had never experienced knee pain like this before and now, more than ever, I wanted to give up and walk.
When I crossed the finish line, I was nearly in tears.
Partly because my knees hurt so badly, but mostly because I had done it.
I ran the whole thing!

My time wasn’t what I wanted it to be, but the race was longer than it was supposed to be–7 miles.
That made me feel better.
In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d be able to run 7 miles.
There was no one there to hug me or high 5, my family was at my son’s baseball game.
But I joyfully texted my husband and he replied, “can you believe you did it?!  I knew you could, and know you know it too!”
I took some selfies with my medal, then I hobbled over to the massage table to get my legs worked on.


I spent the rest of the day in a haze of pain and pride.
I iced, took a hot bath, took advil, and foam rolled the heck out of my legs, but my knees were killing me.
I admit, it took some of the joy out of my first race.
My mom has had both her knees replaced.
It has severely limited her mobility.
I have always feared injuring my own knees and facing the same fate she has.
I began to think of all the negative things I’d heard about running, all that pressure on your joints, and those things began to ring in my head, feeding my fears.
Maybe running really wasn’t for me.

I took time off from the bleachers and the hill, foam rolled a whole lot, and my knee pain subsided.
Now I modify my workouts to lessen the impact on my knees–no jumping.
Those things have helped a lot.
Now they only bother me on occasion, usually as I run down the last hill on hill day.
But I haven’t raced again.

My original plan was to run a half marathon after my 10K.
But I’ve put it off.
I’d like to try.
But I’m just not sure I can do it.
I can’t decide what would be worse: to try and fail, or not try at all?
I think I already know the answer to that.
Maybe a half marathon is in my future after all.


Are there any of you who want to try your first half?
Or a 10K?
A 5K?
Or how about a full marathon?
Where do you find your determination to try?
Who is your support?
And how do you train?
I’d love to hear your stories.
You can comment here, or on the Long Beach Boot Camp Facebook page.
And who knows, maybe we’ll end up running together!

Keep on Living Fit!