Everything you want is on the other side of fear

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Fear.  It inhabits us in some form every day.  This post could be about how I’m about to give birth for the third time tomorrow. And of course, this terrifies me.

This post could be about how I’m about to be a mother of three kids instead of two and I have no idea how I’m really going to do it, let alone, having no idea how to parent a girl. And of course, this terrifies me.

But this isn’t about that.  Those things are fear inducing, yes, but I know I can do it.  So, while the fear is there, it’s not “real”, it’s not tangible.  No matter what, I will succeed at this because failure is not an option.

This post isn’t about that kind of fear.  It’s not about the fear you have when you know you will survive.  It’s about the fear you have when you jump head first into   something you’ve never done before, something you don’t even know if you can do, something where there is essentially no safety net.  This post is about jumping headfirst into something you have a 98% chance of failing at…and doing it anyway.

While this post isn’t about my pregnancy, per se, it definitely is impacted by it.  For most of my life, I have suffered from insomnia.  I don’t sleep a lot and I don’t sleep well.  This can be rather helpful as a parent, though when pregnancy induced insomnia rears its ugly head and you are getting 4 hours of sleep as a pregnant woman, a mom, and a kindergarten teacher, reason seems to go out the window.  And that is essentially where we begin.

Because it was this pregnancy induced insomnia that lead me to be on Twitter at 3 am on a random January “morning”.  And it was this sleeplessness that had me on the New York Road Runners website scouting out some post-baby races.  And it was this incredible exhaustion that had me reminiscing about how much I loved running and couldn’t wait to get back to it.  And it was this amazing weariness of both mind and body that led to the major lack of judgement when I entered the lottery to run in the TCS NYC Marathon.

I knew the chances of getting in via lottery were super slim.  I knew less than 10% of people are accepted.  So I put the phone down, attempted to go back to sleep and put it out of my mind.

And it was.  I went about my life.  I ran intermittently.  I started a a new Girls on the Run group.  I parented and taught and my life went forward as it always did.

Until March 3rd.  When somehow, in some strange twist of fate, I received this e-mail:

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At first I couldn’t breath.  Then I was excited.  Then I was downright petrified.  How the hell was I going to do this?  I barely made it through my half marathon in October.  At 5 months pregnant I could barely manage to talk by the end of it, let alone have completed another 13.1 miles.  Not only did I take a spot from a real runner, someone who dreams of the NYC marathon the way I pregnantly dream about cake and wine, but if I decided to go through with this, I was ultimately going to fail.

And for the past month, all I could think about was the fact that I was going to fail at this.  That I should drop out.  That I should quit so I could just stop worrying.  Then today I woke up and thought, maybe I wouldn’t.  Sure, there is a 98% percent chance that I would fail, that I won’t be able to finish the marathon.  But how will I know until I try.  I began making a list of the reasons I might not fail.  I began making a list so I could see that glimmer of hope in the 2%.  And while I was only really able to come up with 2 things, here they are:

1. I was able to finish a half marathon at 5 months pregnant.  I had barely trained because the beginning of my pregnancy had been emotionally and physically challenging.  I had finished the half in 4 hours with running very little of it.  The time limit for the TCS NYC Marathon is 8 hours.  With the proper training, there is a chance I can do this, even if I come in dead last.

2. I was able to accomplish this (and this, and this).  And somehow, it seems, when I make up my mind to do something, I don’t let anything stand in my way.

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When I really began thinking about it, I realized my fear was mostly about what the “others” would think.  What would my real runner friends think?  What would my everyday friends think?  Would any of them think I could do it?  Would any of them tell me to my face that I could totally do it, but then think negatively behind my back?

And did any of that really matter?  They weren’t running this thing, I was.  And that’s when I had my answer.  I was going to do it.  I might fail, I might not.  But that’s not really the important part.  The important part is the idea that I could try.

I would try.  2% and all, I would try.

See you in November, NYC.

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