Fear

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I have my second ever stand alone marathon in two days.

Every time I think about it my body shakes.

I told my friend this the other day.  He replied, “Eric, you’ve done four Ironmans, lots of adventure races, and a marathon already.  What do you have to be afraid of?”

I have all kinds of things to be afraid of!   I’m afraid all the time.  Such as:

…Am I doing something meaningful with my life?  Are my parents proud of me?  Am I being a good enough dad?  Husband?

My friend is just under the same delusion we all are…Everyone else is stronger, smarter, better, <insert adjective> than me.

I think I read in Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus that a man’s biggest fear is not being good enough.  I bet this fear is pretty high on the woman’s list too.

[It’s kind of embarrassing to admit I read that book.  Since I’m being honest, I also like to listen to Air Supply and Barry Manilow, and this is my favorite song ever.  <Cringe>]

Back to the race.

Specifically, here are the two things I’m afraid of most about the race:

  • Everyone realizing I’ve got a big ego.  I set a goal to run a time to qualify for Boston.  Then told everyone about it.  Maybe I don’t have what it takes to run that time?  People like nothing better than seeing a cocky jerk failing.
  • Soiling myself in front of everyone.  Like at a trail race last fall.  Yes, I did this!  And it was so humiliating.  Thanks to my buddy Jon T for saying he did it too.  Now we’re poop buddies!

Interestingly, I’m not all that worried about these things:

  • Failure.  I will probably let myself off the hook in ten minutes if I don’t hit the goal.
  • Hurting really badly.  I started too fast in my first marathon and the last ten miles were excruciating.  It might happen again.  Oh well.
  • More injuries.  I don’t know how to stop when a race is on.  I might hurt myself permanently.  This really should bother me more than it does.

What are the common threads?

All of my fears are based upon what others think.

I actually didn’t realize this until I listed it all out.

It’s funny how your mind knows one thing but your heart isn’t so sure.  Here are comments from a facebook thread I made the other day about the race.

 

frisco comments

 

There were a lot more comments.  And they were all positive and supportive.   My friends are awesome!

Whether my heart likes to admit it or not, they will love me just as much if I don’t run a fast time.  They’ll probably still love me even if I poop myself, but that will be love from a distance.

Do you find that when you are afraid going into a race, you exceed your expectations?  I do.  In my first Ironman I was scared out of my mind.

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to be rescued on the swim.  Didn’t know how I’d sit through 112 miles on a bike.  And thought I’d have to walk the entire marathon.  Or maybe not even finish.

On the marathon I did a walk-run format.  At mile 20 I felt so good that I ran the last 6.2 miles – with each mile faster than the previous.

Conversely, I almost always have bad experiences when I’m overconfident.  I still haven’t ran a marathon in an Ironman as fast as that first one.  I can’t seem to bring myself to take walk breaks in them now.

Maybe you shouldn’t take advice from me.

I really like something professional runner Matt Tegenkamp said before he ran the Boston Marathon last week.

He basically said that nerves are good.

Nerves mean that the event is important to you and you want to do well.  It means you will do your best no matter what happens.

I recently revamped my blog.  Along with that, I chose a more personal writing style.  It feels really good writing these thoughts and feelings down – maybe like therapy.

But every time I go to hit “publish,” a paralyzing fear creeps in.  What if everyone thinks I’m stupid for writing this post?  What if I embarrass myself or a friend?

Writing this way feels a lot like asking this girl to prom my senior year.  I had wanted to talk to her all year long but was so afraid.  I planned to ask her out every day for at least four or five months.

I found out her phone number and dialed to the 6th digit probably a hundred times before hanging up.  I called her a few times and hung up.  Not long after that I heard about Star 69 (call return).  So I stopped calling her.  Then I found out where she lived and drove by late at night after I got off work at McDonald’s.

I was a stalker before they even had a name for it!

When I finally couldn’t delay any more, I walked up to her, introduced myself, and asked if she would go to prom with me.  In the moment of silence that followed, an incredible pressure built inside my chest.

It was 50/50.  If she said no, I would probably explode right there.  Blood and guts and brains all over her nice yellow locker.  Or if not, I’d definitely go home and demand to be home schooled.   I mean, I’d never even spoken to her before.  She must of course have realized I was a complete loser.

If she said yes, then I could go on with life as usual.

Funny how if the plan goes wrong it’s the end of the world and if it goes right then it’s back to the status quo.

I’m almost forty years old and am finally learning I just have to say “screw it” and push through the fear.  That moment of uncertainty still sabotages me though.  Maybe that’s just part of being human.

In the end if I can look at myself in the mirror and honestly say I gave my best effort, I guess I can live with that.

Bring on the marathon.

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