Scary, Scary, Quite Contrary

August 22nd, 2010 | Posted by Alison Spath in Motivation

Item #177 on my list of Things That Make My Heart Leap Into My Throat:

Mile Marker 24

That would be the 24th mile marker of the Rochester Marathon that is now three weeks away.  THREE! WEEKS! Seeing that freshly spray painted “24” on the marathon course during a bike ride today made me gasp and cover my mouth with my hand whilst laying my other arm across my forehead before pretending to faint.

Holy.  Crap.  They have marked the miles for the race.  We are that close.

Yes, that bright orange, yet-to-be-faded by the weather or bipeds or Godzillas was my cold, harsh reminder of just how close the marathon is now.  I’ll probably be doing the exact same thing with my mouth, hand and arm in three weeks too.  Except maybe the fainting thing will be real then.

Mile 24

Be scared.

Yup!  No problem!  I am scared.  I admit it.  And I feel as though I shouldn’t be!  I’ve run a marathon before after all.  I’ve trained the same way this time.  I did it once, I can do it again, right?  But what if I can’t? I know all too well how freaking sucky it gets at the end. I remember how much my legs hurt.  I’ll never forget wondering how on earth I was managing to move forward despite a pair of legs that felt like over cooked summer squash. I know I promised myself right around that very same mile marker two years ago that I was never, ever going to do this again.

This is when I think about the fact that marathon running is a lot like child birth. It feels really long. It is not easy. There’s a lot of build up and preparation. A lot of swearing and sweating and grunting and crying. A lot of saying that you are never, ever going to do this again. But then before you know it, it’s a couple of years later and you’re holding another positive home pregnancy test in your hand or you’re mailing in the registration form with your check, and in both instances thinking “what the hell did I just do?”

But do it anyway.

So it’s ok be scared, but you still have to do those things that scare you. That’s how change happens. When you do the things that scare you, you give yourself the opportunity to succeed. Sure, you give yourself the opportunity to fail too, but how awesome is that?  Failure is good.  Failure is how you figure it out.  And even when you fail, chances are you’ll have at least a few small successes along the way too.  And it’s those small successes along with some big ones that eventually begin to add up.  Before you know it, you’ve got something much bigger and something very real in front of you; a change in the way you perceive who you are and what you are capable of.

You don’t change your self image in one moment of feeling good about yourself. It’s a compilation of all your successes, both big and small, that start to make a difference in the way you see yourself and allow you to move toward becoming that person that you want to be.  Nothing builds success like success.  Succeed at one thing, and suddenly you’ve got the courage to try something else, something that at one time probably seemed impossibly scary.  But that’s when you run your fingers through the hair of Fear and grab a hold of those nappy roots to look Fear straight in the face.  That’s when you really begin.

So begin already, would ya?

Start small.  Go for a walk and run just a little.  Do one push up.  Or ten.  Run a 5K.  Run another marathon.  Write a post like this for crying out loud!  Do I even know what the hell I’m talking about here?  Do I sound like an idiot?  Maybe.  Probably!  But how else am I going to figure out what works and what doesn’t in this tiny plot of cyber real estate of mine?  How else am I going to figure out what I enjoy writing about and what I don’t?  All I can do is be honest and be myself and share what works for me and hope it might work for you too.  So that’s what I do – scary or not.  Put it out there, risk failure, adjust course as needed and then keep going with some new knowledge to come along with me for the ride.

Nike was right.

So just do it.  Do something.  Do anything!  And it’s ok to be afraid.  Spray painted numbers are pretty scary after all, as are positive home pregnancy tests.  One of those I plan to plow right over in three weeks, the other would surely make me faint.  That would be #154 on my list of things that make my heart leap into my throat.  In fact, let’s not even go there.  Too scary.

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9 Responses

  • Lizzy says:

    You’re gonna rock it Alison!!!!! I’m gettin scared for my marathon too, and its not till october, so i still got some time! ah! but i know for a fact you can do it! :) YOU ROCK!

  • Kimmy says:

    You can’t even begin to know how much I needed to read this right now!!! Thanks =)

  • sarah says:

    awesome post. I just did my first half marathon last weekend – something I never thought I’d do, despite having been running for 20-odd years. I love your attitude!

  • Jane/you-know-who says:

    You’re certainly wise for your years. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • KatieF says:

    LOVED this post. It applies to so many aspects of life. :)

  • Cindy says:

    True story, this morning on my way to work, I saw one of those 26.2 stickers on a car and I was all…I want one of those…some day!

    hell, I’d take a 13.1 or ANYTHING because I’ve yet to date found the nerve to run one silly race.

    yes, I am scared. it’s stupid really.

    It’s people like you, who do the REAL running that inspire me.

    my second thought after seeing that 26.2 sticker was “Girl, you have to EARN that sticker….do you REALLY want it?”

    deep down I said yes…and at the surface, the side of my brain that usually talks LOUDER, said…it’ll never happen.

    I love this Ali….it’s okay to be afraid. I know you are going to rock that race! And I’ll be in the stands, shaking my head at your achievement and at my fear of committed running!


  • Holly says:

    i heart you. i just caught up on three glorious posts where i got to learn all about energy, tomato eating tomatoes and marathon running. marathons ARE scary…it’s been almost a year since mine, and i am not sure i am ready to do another one yet. maybe another year or so…anyways, i would rather run a marathon anyday than find a positive pregnancy test, so maybe i just gotta keep all this in perspective… :)

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