I've never considered myself to be brave. In fact, most of my life I've suffered from anxiety and a lack of confidence. I know that probably comes as a surprise to most of you who read my blog. All those races I run? It has taken an enormous amount to mental energy to push myself to the starting line of most of them. But I realized early on that if I wanted to live life to the very fullest, I would need to put on a brave face and push myself out of my comfort zone, both on the road and off.
It hasn't always been easy but yes, it has always been worth it.
In 2014, I won a free entry to the Chicago Marathon and made up my mind to redeem myself from my disappointing first attempt in 2011. Yes, I was so demoralized by that race that it took me 3 years to get up the courage to try again. Would I have done it if I hadn't won the entry? Who knows. But I took it as a sign that it was a chance to put on my big girl running pants and conquer the beast that had been haunting me. To run the race I knew I had in me. My friend Marcia kept telling me that I had "unfinished business".
Prior to my 2015 Chicago Marathon, I received an unexpected gift from a Facebook friend, Teresa. The shirt, from Fellow Flowers, had "rockstar" printed across the front. Of course, I loved it. But it was the magnet that came with the shirt spoke to me:
Maybe it's the middle age talking, but I have a lot of things on my bucket list yet to be accomplished. Some are running related, some not. I'm at this point in my life where a lot of my friends and yes, my husband, are becoming content. Complacent.
I'm not there yet.
There's an expectation that with middle age comes an eventual slowing down.
Who me? Slow down?
Am I brave enough to push beyond expectations?
There are a lot of runners out there who will tell you running changed their lives. I am one of them. Crossing the finish lines of the many long distance races I've run has given me confidence, kept my anxiety at bay, and pushed me beyond expectations.
And yes, I've become brave.
Brave enough to push my pace hard to PRs and AG awards.
Brave enough to swallow my pride and enlist the services of a badass, tough as nails CrossFit coach.
Brave enough to take up cycling and yep, those dreaded clip-in pedals. Because we all know what a clutz I am. But I like to go fast. So I had to be brave.
Brave enough to push forward with this marathon training cycle, even with minimal road time and maximal cross training.
Brave enough to push outside of my comfort zone. So many times. You know what? Nothing great happens there.
And scared to stop being brave. Because what will happen when I do?
I love that I can do hard things. I love that in spite of not being able to run as much as I want to right now, I can transfer that level of fitness to other activities like cycling and pool running. I love that I can lift heavy things. More than anything, I love that I'm crushing expectations. I'm getting stronger and I'm getting faster.
I've become brave. Both on the road and off. Because for me, it always comes back to running. Running has made me brave. Running makes me push my limits and define who I am.
Don't let the way others see you define who you are.
Be brave. Leave the comfort zone. And let it change the way you see yourself.
Are you brave?
I'm linking up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word. Today's word is brave. Check out what everyone else is saying about the word brave!