This weekend, I spent some time remaniscing about my youth and all of the things that I used to be so scared of, that I now realize were quite harmless. I visited the family cottage in “Up North, Michigan” where I spent many summers as a child. My dad came up to spend some time with the boys and I and we talked about how I used to be terrified of the minnows that nibble your toes when you get in the water, and of the spiders that adorn the windows of the cottage, and the sound of the pump as it kicked on after the toilet was flushed, and many other silly things. We had a good laugh about all of it.
Then, this morning, I was back in the small, farm town where I grew up. I needed to do an 8 mile run (thank goodness I have that training plan to boss me around) and I had had no luck in finding a willing running mate. So I set my alarm for 6:00am to get most of the run done before anyone was awake (and because I knew that if I saved it for later in the day I might not have the discipline to do it).
There was a BIG part of me that was dreading running 8 miles on country roads, especially when I have been spoiled lately with doing all of my runs on the beautiful trails where I live. So I decided I would run the 1 mile trail that is in the city park, and very close to my sister’s house, to get started. I ran over to the park and around the paved drive. When I got to the trail entrance, I completely chickened out. It was dark and mysterious, and it seemed too overgrown to be safe (especially without my pepper spray and my boxer, who normally runs with me when I’m not with a friend).
So, I was back to running on the country roads. I headed out of the park, and out of town for an out and back run. It was a beautiful morning and the sun was shining over the corn fields and dairy farms. This wasn’t going to be so bad after all. I was keeping a pretty good pace, and feeling strong, when all of a sudden, as I approached an old farm house, a man came running off the porch and down his driveway. I quickly moved to the other side of the road and picked up my speed. He stopped at the end of his drive and said, “I’m wearing Michigan State shorts…and I HATE Michigan State!” (Nervous chuckle from me.) Then he said, “Have a great day!” and waved good bye.
Ok. That was weird, but I’m smart enough to know that this man wasn’t the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, and most likely was just trying to be a friendly fella. I continued on with my run, albeit at an accelerated pace for a little while.
But remember, this was an out and back run, so I had to run by the house again. On my way back into town I was feeling a little more tired, and I couldn’t remember which house it was that the man had come from. As I neared a couple of houses that I thought might be the one, my heart rate and speed would go up (big chicken, remember?). Then, I heard a screen door spring closed, and I knew I was back at the house. Sure enough, he came running to the end of the driveway.
“You’re still running?”
Again with a nervous giggle, “Yup!”
“How long have you been running?” he was yelling because I was sprinting at this point.
“About 45 minutes,” I hollered back.
“HOLY MAMA!!! Have a great day!”
And I couldn’t help but smile as I continued down the dirt road. Why am I such a chicken?! I really need to work on being less afraid of things. Almost every time that I am afraid of something, it turns out to be much less dramatic and awful than I had made it out to be in my head. The next time that I am visiting my hometown, I WILL run that trail at the park. (I will carry my pepper spray though, so watch out!)
I finished my 8 mile run this morning in 70 minutes. That’s the fastest that I have run that distance in a long time. I give credit to the guy who creeped me out, then made me laugh at myself for being such a chicken.
Here’s to doing the things that scare you!!! They are the things that will make you more brave, and more confident!