It was January 2011 and I was in Walt Disney World. My college roommate and family was with me and I was racked with anxiety.
I was about to run my first marathon.
I kept reminding myself that I had trained well. I kept reminding myself that even if I fell a part my pace was fine and that I was fairly confident I’d finish. I kept reminding myself that I wasn’t crazy and that I had chosen to do this.
Why am I doing this?
The morning came and I was up early, it was a quiet morning since I didn’t know anyone else running the race so I just soaked up the atmosphere and tried to stay as positive and calm as I could. Do I really need to run this? Yes, Katherine you do. Turning back now not an option. You trained too hard, traveled too far, and you have too many friends and family here with you to turn back now. You are here, you are doing this.
Why AM I doing this?
I got in my corral, I marveled at the fireworks and we were off. I was running my first marathon. You are DOING this.
WHY am I doing this?
We ran around Epcot, it’s so beautiful before sunrise. We ran up the roads to the Magic Kingdom, the castle is always a beautiful sight and running up Main St is unlike anything else. We ran to Animal Kingdom and I waved to some characters and took in the beauty of Animal Kingdom in the early morning light. Out on the roads I fought my “wall” demons and kept pushing through even though the sun beat down and the temperature was rising. We entered Disney Hollywood Studios and I knew…
I AM doing this.
Through the park, around Crescent Lake and through Epcot’s World Showcase. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. It was hard but I waved at characters and was filled with the knowledge and pride of knowing.
I am DOING this.
I crossed the finish line, hot, sweaty and exhausted but filled with the knowledge that I had accomplished something. I had trained for months. I had physically and mentally prepared. I had fought my demons.
I DID IT!
I overcame my fears and anxiety and lept into the race, pushing myself further than I had ever gone before. Trying something new that pushes you is scary and it’s standing up in the face of that fear takes courage.
Your first marathon, half marathon or other race is something you will never forget. It’s a magical thing!
Accomplishing a goal is something that always fills me with pride. Some days that goal is just to finish, sometimes it’s to PR, and it’s always to just try to enjoy the run.
And while I’ve run 24 halfs and 14 full marathons there is one thing that hasn’t changed, that twinge of anxiety that creeps in. That excitement mixed with anticipation. And while the question has changed, it has changed only slightly, and always crossed my mind…
Why am I doing this… again?
Running is crazy, but it’s awesome. Running is weird, but it’s the thing that makes us feel normal. Running is hard and that’s what makes the journey worth it. It’s all about quieting the fears and anxiety as we approach the start line and push ourselves to new levels. Part of training is always building confidence to quiet those inner voices and discover your strength mantra.
To steal a line from Disney, on race day you should have courage and be kind. Thank the volunteers, acknowledge your fellow runners and just be a part of the experience. Celebrate the moment and take what race day brings.