Shallow breath in, shallow breath out. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
When I think about the times in my life when I thought something was impossible, fear was always at the root. The fear of failing. The fear of hurting. The fear of not being the person that I think people want me to be. The fear of being accepted. The fear of being too honest. Too different. Too vulnerable. And whenever I find myself shrinking and giving in to fear, I try to look up. And I try to just breath. And smile. And give myself permission to be afraid.
I feel like I just set the goal to BQ. The past six months don't feel real and I keep struggling to remember how far I've come. I feel the same. I'm moments away from landing in Chicago and I can't stop questioning whether or not I'm ready. But I know I'm ready. I proved to myself that I'm ready. No matter what I do or however many times I prove to myself that I can do impossible things, I still find wrestling with doubt.
Before I boarded my flight, a man asked me why I wanted to run the Chicago marathon. I stopped and told him that I had to. He asked me what I meant and I told him that it was something that I just really wanted to do. I told him that running marathons was fun and he scrunched his face up like he tasted something sour, laughed, and told me that running wasn't fun. I told him that I agreed. But I said something can be awful and fun at the same time. I told him that the anticipation and uncertainty, though unbearable and overwhelming at times, makes my life interesting and that running marathons helps me feel alive. And I told him that some of the most rewarding things I do are equal parts fun and painful.
The feelings and emotions we experience both during a run and in life aren't mutually exclusive. You can experience both pain and joy at the same time. Or fear and excitement. One of the best ways to push through your darkest moments of a run is to focus on the elation that only miles ahead.
I don't know what's going to happen on Sunday. I didn't think I'd get this far. Just last year I couldn't even bring myself to admit that I wanted to seriously try to break four hours. When I set the goal to try to BQ, I thought I'd make it one or two months before deciding that fun running is much more rewarding than running for time. Running was always the thing I did to stay sane, focused and centered. My life was hard and painful enough, I didn't need my happy place bringing me into another level of pain.
While I can't say I welcome the pain that comes with running faster and stronger just yet, I think we're at least acquaintances. We're getting to know each other and I'm trying to trust pain when it joins me out on the course. It's hard. It hurts. And with pain comes fear and doubt.
I know I'm ready. I'm excited to take off and see what the past few months have prepped me for. And I'm afraid. I'm afraid of falling flat on my face or feeling regret and disappointment.
But it's out of my control now! I've come too far not to give it my all! Before I left CA in September, Dr. Bob told me to look at a picture or a mantra that reminds me of the last time I left everything on the course. A picture or video from the moment I shut doubt and fear down and said yes to myself. I told him about the selfie I took after I crossed the finish line of last year's New York City Marathon.
Before I left California, I met with Dr. Bob to talk sports psychology since we're 30 days away from the #ChicagoMarathon. I asked him how to fight the moments when I think the pain is too much and I want to pull back and get comfortable. He told me two things, 1. To write no regrets somewhere that I can see it so that I remember to push when I drop out of the moment. And to give 100% so that I will cross the finish line knowing I ran my personal best. 2. He told me to check in with a picture or a moment that reminds me of the last time I fought through discomfort to hit a difficult goal. I immediately thought of last year's #TCSNYCMarathon. Running my first sub 4 hurt like hell and I came in right under the wire. I didn't think I could do it and those final 6.2 miles were really, really painful. But the sense of accomplishment that has stayed with me since that moment 10 months later made those 6.2 miles (ok and the 20 that came before it) worth it. Pain is temporary. Pain is the boogeyman. It's worth it to empty your tank to see what you're capable of. NO REGRETS. 30 DAYS. I'm really excited. #RunSelfieRepeat #NoRagrats
No regrets is the reason why I wanted to be BQ in the first place. I'm not a quitter. I'm beside myself with excitement to toe the line on Sunday and give it my all. Nothing makes me happier than running a marathon because you're surrounded by thousands of people who are just as afraid and excited to do something impossible as you are.
It's time to say yes and give it everything I have on Sunday. We don't know what we're truly capable of unless we say yes.
Thank you for your donation and thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming on this journey with me. It hasn't been easy but I feel nothing but love and support from every single one of you and that makes me want to fight that much harder.
Here we go. Bring it Chicago. Until race day, #RunSelfieRepeat.