Finding Strength in my Pack

Today is my Runiversary. I started running in late December 2015-early January 2016, but the 2016 Shamrock 8K was my first race. I was freakin terrified and SO overwhelmed. The expo and bib pick up had my stomach in knots. The day of the race I thought I was going to lose my breakfast before getting out of the car. I wasn’t a “real” runner. I hadn’t even trained outside. What if I was last? What if I didn’t have the right clothes? What if I hurt myself? What if someone saw me for the fraud I thought I was? I don’t even remember what corral I was in, but I even had anxiety about if that is the corral I should really be in. I was kind of a wreck.

There was no one waiting for me at the finish line. There was no one checking in on me in the morning to make sure I got to the starting line. I only had my friend Amanda several states away in a different time zone trying to calm my nerves. Ultimately, I was on my own. (I did finish. I was not wearing enough layers. I probably should have trained a little more. At the end of the day I did finish though, and I had tears as I crossed my first finish line.)

Fast forward one year and almost 20 races later- I found myself preparing for the same race.

This year was different. I didn’t just have a few people supporting me. I had a whole Wolf Pack behind me. I had a group text blowing up my phone at 5am. When I crossed the start I had my pace family standing in the cold cheering for me. I spent the race waving to my team members on the course with my friend and pace-teammate Cindy by my side every step of the way. We even crossed the finish line putting on a show for the race photographers skipping across the finish. For the first time I heard my name as I was about to cross the finish line, not from an announcer, but from my coach. I have never had any non-running friends or family come support me at one of my races. I am struggling to find the words for how much today meant to me.

The reason I am losing sleep is because I have to get out some nervous energy about the half marathon tomorrow. I am pretty terrified. Wind chill in the 30s. Rain the whole time. Gusts of wind up to 40mph. I mean COME ON!

I have been a roller coaster of emotions about tomorrow. I am nervous and anxious. The number one thing keeping me from freaking out too much is thinking about my team. Knowing that tomorrow isn’t about a personal best, it is about finishing what each one of us started 16 weeks ago. I have so much confidence knowing that I will not be alone.

Walking around one year ago I questioned what everyone else knew that I didn’t. Today (and throughout the last few months) my Facebook has been flooded with with advice and encouragement that money can’t buy. I know I will not be blindsided tomorrow. I know what I am about to face. I know it will not be easy. I know it may not be fun. I know it may hurt. I know that it is temporary. I know that I will not be alone. I will have the support of my dear Team Fearless and my Wolf Pack. We started this together and we will all finish this together. I am so excited to celebrate the end of an incredible training season with my J&A family. The clock doesn’t matter tomorrow. The team is what matters tomorrow.

Bart Yasso reminded us that we have done the training and the race is just the celebration. He praised our team for having a positive impact on the running community. When I started this team I had no idea that this team would have such a positive impact on my life.

I went in to this week confident in the PR I will have tomorrow. As the race got closer the weather got worse. I am at peace with whatever happens tomorrow. The time doesn’t matter under these circumstances. What matters is I am getting up and getting out there. What matters if the journey and the non-running takeaways I have gained this season. What matters is the friendships I have made. I am lucky for every opportunity I have  to support each member of the team the same way they have all supported me. Some of us are running the full marathon and some of us the half marathon. The distance doesn’t matter. The pace doesn’t matter. The support and encouragement we give each other is what matters. What matters is there will be more races, I am strong, I am healthy.

Now I am excited about tomorrow. Come what may. I will control what I can control and accept what I cannot. I am strong. I am Team Fearless. I am not alone.

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