I had just clicked the mouse on my computer and immediately my brain felt numb and my stomach dropped liked I was on a roller coaster at the annual Gladstone’s World Fair. I sat and stared for a minute at my screen. The screen stared back. Without hesitation I started to feel a little regret and remorse about the decision. Before anyone notifies the FBI, the click on my mouse was to hit purchase on the entry fee to my first ultra-marathon. This was Monday of this week; the race is Saturday. Yes, six days later Saturday. Before you go off thinking I am totally off my rocker, I have had this race in mind for a couple months and have been training “just in case” I made this decision. After the staring contest I had with my screen, a buddy of mine asked me “what’s up”? I told him about the race and he without hesitation told me I’m nuts, but he felt I’d do fine. I think I’ll do fine, I mean I think I will do ok. Wait no I don’t feel that way at all.
Since Monday I have spent time wondering how one person can be so insanely confident in their ability to run 32 miles, that they’ll pay $100 to prove it. While another person sits and stews about doing the same thing even though they are probably physically ready. Then the real question becomes, how can these two people be the exact same person? When I sat down at my computer I was Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden (without the good looks) from Fight Club only to quickly turn into Edward Norton. Do I have a split personality? Bi-polar? I don’t think so. I think it’s simply self-doubt.
Self-doubt is defined as lack of confidence in oneself or one’s abilities. What causes this doubt in oneself? One website I read said it was negative attention from parents, teachers and others. I definitely received some negative attention from teachers. Of course, that was 100% self-induced, in junior high and high school I was completely lacking in self-doubt. So that isn’t it. Then there is tinybuddha.com’s theory. They theorize that there are three things that cause self-doubt: 1. Comparing yourself with others, 2. Fixation on a particular outcome, 3. Feeling like an imposter. Is Tiny Buddha on to something? Yes, Yes and hell Yes!!! I think comparing yourself to others can be a beneficial practice if you keep it realistic. This is where I struggle, I read a lot of Trail Runner Magazine articles about the amazing feats of incredible athletes. These articles inspire me to get out and run, but when I am running the articles run through my head of how what I am doing would be laughable to the super humans on those pages. These are the unrealistic comparisons I saddle myself with, so strike one. The particular outcome I am fixated on is, finishing. I don’t have a problem setting unrealistic goals for a finish time. I do have though an irrational fear of not finishing a race. The thought of coming home or going to work and having to tell people I DNF’d literally makes my stomach churn. Typing this has me reaching for the Pepto. I’m not sure why I have such a visceral reaction to DNF’ing. I don’t think it’s the fear of failure, I’ve done plenty of that in my life. I think it’s the fear of being seen as a failure. Strike two. How about part three of the theory, feeling like an imposter? Only every day. When I am standing on the starting line I feel like everyone in my race looks like Dean Karnazes, Scott Jurek and Jenn Shelton. And I feel like Family Guy’s Peter Griffin. Steeeerike Three.
So what now? How do I get through my pity party? How do I defeat the three headed monster known as self-doubt? Tiny Buddha has answers to that also. But, I’m going to ignore them. I’m going to do what I think all of us do every day. Strap on my boots (Hoka Speed Goats in this case), put my head down and chug along one step at a time. This method is not ingenious but it’s a method that has worked for many people for many years. Benjamin Disraeli said, “There is no education like adversity.” We all face adversity. This diversity may come from an external source or in my case an entirely internal source. As with Disraeli’s quote no matter what happens Saturday I’m going to get an education. Which is the point of doing the things we do, right?
I’d like to welcome two more writer’s to A Rock in Your Shoe. First person I’d like to introduce is, Lawman101st. Lawman101st, known to some as Steve to other’s as Dad is a father of 5 kids, husband of 49 years to one person, war veteran, blue collar worker at the same job for over thirty years, self made farmer, black belt in multiple disciplines, and marathon runner (soon to be ultra-runner). He will be discussing a variety of topics from the perspective of only a person of his experience could bring.
Next, I’d like to introduce taylorborn27. She is also known as Tamara and my wife. Mother to one human and two dogs, educator of thousands, runner of our home, and inspiration. She will be bringing thoughts from the experiences of being an educator for over 20 years, a newly minted house wife, and experience with dealing with the insanity that is our family.