Fear is Paralyzing

Lately I’ve been really struggling with motivation. I think that happens to me at the beginning of every Summer break. Finally, the hustle and bustle of the crazy spring sports schedules is over. School is out. And there’s time to just be still and do fun things that are not linked to any kind of responsibility. It’s pretty great.

But, at the same time, it is a BIG change that leaves me literally not wanting to do ANYTHING that a responsible adult should be doing. Laundry is just sitting there, grocery shopping isn’t done, the house is a mess, and my early morning workout alarm is nonexistent. It’s not that I keep hitting snooze; it’s that I am actually not even setting it anymore. Instead, I’ve left my runs to be squeezed in whenever it’s convenient throughout the day. And sometimes, it’s just not convenient at all. And therefore, not happening. Or it’s happening, but the runs are short and sweet. And although I love short and sweet, that’s not the kind of runs that are going to get me across the finish line at a 100 mile ultra marathon in September. (Insert terrified face.)

This week I had decided that it was my week to really amp up my training and get my butt in gear. And, overall I did that. There were a couple of brick workouts (mountain bike ride, followed by a trail run) and two longish runs of 13.1 miles and 10 miles with only one day in between, and not a rest day either, but a nearly two hour brick workout on the day in the middle. Finally, I felt like I was ready to face the reality of what I’m preparing for.

Quick break on one of my mountain bike rides this week.
Trail run on some of my favorite trails in Michigan.

But really….I’m not.

Yesterday my husband started asking me a bunch of questions about the race, and it hit me that I really didn’t know the answers. Granted, I’ve never been an overly anal person that studies course maps, aid station fuels, elevation gains, and all of that. But, generally when I’m taking on a new challenge, I do look into things a bit more. And I’m thinking I should have been able to answer the questions like….what’s the time cut off? When can you have a pacer? How long does it generally take people to finish? How do you think you’re going to run for 24 hours straight when you’ve never even stayed awake that long? ….. Yikes.

So, this morning, I took a deep breath and went to the race website to see if I could find the answers to any of these questions. The first thing I decided to click on was a link to the elevation profile. I don’t know why I chose that as my starting point, I mean, I ran a 50 mile race on the same course a few years ago. But, that’s where I started. This is what I found.

This is the elevation profile of one 16.6 mile loop. I will be running this loop 6 times.

And immediately, I was in tears.

That’s when it hit me that the reason I’ve been so incredibly unmotivated to train for this race is that I’m absolutely terrified of this race. And that fear has left me paralyzed. Instead of it pushing me to work my butt off, it has left me scared to even take the first step towards doing all of the work that needs to be done to prepare.

One of the things I do to stay motivated is that I follow people on Instagram that have similar goals and I listen to podcasts and read blogs of like-minded people. Over the last couple of months, one of the women that I follow on Instagram, who is a big ultra runner and has finished multiple 100 mile ultras, DNF’d (Did Not Finish) her latest 100 mile attempt. Another Instagram inspiration of mine DNF’d a 100 mile attempt a few months ago, but came back and finished her first 100 miler at the beginning of the month. Her blog detailing the event was cringe-worthy, explaining how the chaffing in her lady parts was so bad that she was bleeding through her pants and it was visible to not only her, but everyone around her.

Ummmm…really though…what am I doing?!

I also looked into the previous female finishers times for this ultra, as well as the cut off time. For my 50 miler on that same course, I had a finishing time of 10 hours, 33 minutes. I know that just doubling the time isn’t realistic, so I was thinking that maybe 24-26 hours was a reasonable estimation. When I told this to my husband, he couldn’t believe that I wouldn’t be able to finish in less than 24 hours. So, I looked up the times. The cut off is 30 hours (phew) and last year, the first place female finisher finished in 22 hours, 14 minutes. Second place was 24 hours, 32 minutes. Twenty-seven women started the race, and eighteen finished it.

To sum it all up. I’m scared. Reeeeeeally scared. But, it’s time to stop letting that fear leave me frozen. It’s time to run all the miles and do all the work because you better believe I’m showing up at that start line and I’ll be doing everything I can to make it to that finish line!

“Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to act in the presence of fear.” – Bruce Lee

Yup. That’s just it. We all need to realize that it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be paralyzed briefly. ┬áBut then, we must move past it because there are goals to reach and dreams to be chased!