Sometimes You Gotta Show Up

This morning I ran with Bennie, a nice easy 2.5 miler down back, nothing special, just a nice run  on a beautiful day.

Strava - Bennie Run 8-9-14
Strava – Bennie Run 8-9-14

What was surprising was that I didn’t run the Doc & Mardie 5K over in Waterville this morning, which I had planned on doing all summer, it was one of my goal races.

Hell this post should be a Doc & Mardie 5K race recap or even a quick RunLog entry about my Bennie Run, instead it is something else completely.


The truth is that I just “never” got around to putting in the race registration. I know Patrick, the race director pretty well and have volunteered at the Quarry Road Trail Race series with him for the past couple of years. Which also means that I know a lot of the runners who were running the race this morning.

I knew it would be a good time, although running up the hill by Colby, would be a pain-in-the-ass. However, the after-the-race camaraderie of the event would more than make up for the tough course.

However, for some reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to register for this race, yesterday I did a tough long run (which I do not do before a goal race) or even go this morning and just do a race-day registration.

I had plenty of opportunities.

TheWife even asked last night and this morning if I was going and I made up some excuse about having to put the front door back together (which could have waited until I got home), last week I had gone down to Portland to see Meb and didn’t want to do two weekends in a row and best of all – I just didn’t feel like it.

The bottom-line was that I didn’t go run the Doc and Mardie 5K today, even though I planned to and wanted to.

What to hell happened then?

Not running this morning has been in the back of my mind and bothered me all day and I couldn’t really put my finger on why I didn’t go???

Tonight when I got to reading my RSS Blog Feeds, I read this post from

Grandma Runs

and realized what had happened.

Please take the 2-3 minutes to go ahead and read her post, before you go any further. 

It very eloquently puts into words and context, what happened, some of what I was feeling and unfortunately what has crept back into my running.

That insidious thing called pre-race anxiety –

  • not jitters,
  • not butterflies
  • not all those other things the almost every runner feels before a race.

Nope race anxiety was worming its way back into my life and the song was being sung so seductively and sweetly, I didn’t realize what was going on until one of my goal races for the year was run without me.

It is something I have battled before – if you are interested, you can read more it below:

Race Day Anxiety So Much More than the Jitters

How did it happen?

In my mind I believed I was being conservative with my most recent spate of injuries and using them as the rationale to stay home, until they have completely healed or that I didn’t want to “race” up the hills this morning, because I didn’t know how my hamstring and foot would respond…

Except they were all excuses designed and created to avoid facing my difficulties with pre-race anxiety.

I was getting back into that thinking, if I don’t run in a race, I don’t have to deal with all those feelings.

Okay, let’s get real —

I have run sub 7:00 minute paces for a couple of miles, done track/speedwork training sessions and 30-40 mile weeks, without breaking anything over the past couple of weeks.

Which means that I am over my injuries, well as much as I will be for a while any ways and I cannot use them as an excuse not to do something — like a race.

So I was physically able to run this damn 3.1 mile course, hell I even ran up that frigging hill a couple of weeks ago, without any problems.

Now that I see what actually happened, it sucks.

The reality is

After reading Joyce’s post, it forced me to take a look at what I am doing – again.

Now to do the hard work of putting the lid back on this race anxiety demon that seems to smack me upside the head all too often and spoils, and has spoiled so many opportunities to be around other runners and enjoy the social aspect of running. Something that I miss out on all too often – it seems.

I just have to keep reminding myself:

  • No, I am not going to win the race.
  • Yes, I can go have fun.
  • Yes, I can be a sociable human being before the race, not just afterwards.
  • Yes, I can do my best during the race.
  • Yes, I can train hard to prepare for races.

Most of all

  • Yes, I can show up.

Now to go do it.

3 thoughts on “Sometimes You Gotta Show Up

  1. Finally got back to this one – excellent post, and I also loved Joyce’s post …

    I had been wondering since you were coming back how anxiety might impact you … and was sad to see that it HAD returned. But I think that by identifying it early – calling it on its BS – you will be better positioned to deal with it going forward.

    My older son deals with anxiety quite a bit, which is weird because it is all ‘before the event’ type stuff that dissipates instantly when he starts, regardless of what the event. It is a very real thing … and hard to deal with!

    I think it is harder to deal with because there is a normal level of anxiety and actual Anxiety. When I am doing a race, starting a new project at work, have a big event or talk I am giving or important meeting or whatever – I get nervous. But nothing that shuts me down … but real Anxiety can be truly debilitating.

    Thanks to you and Joyce for sharing these stories, and I am sorry for your frustrations and challenges!

    1. Thanks Mike. Race anxiety is something that I have battled since high school and probably will fight as long as I choose to run in races. It is insidious and all too real to me.

      Anxiety encompasses all parts of our lives and sometimes surfaces in areas that you don’t expect, for me it is pre-event anxiety and being in large crowds. Hmmm maybe that is that why I avoid large races or do go to “events” unless i am forced or have to “suck it up buttercup” and all I want to do is leave as soon as I get there.

      Sometimes those pre-event anxiety attacks get to the point, where the benefit of going does not outweigh, the emotional pain and distress that is caused by going and I don’t no matter what it is. It is not something you outgrow or that you will suddenly stop feeling – it is something that every time you do that thing which triggers your anxiety you have to battle it. You can use some strategies to bring it to more manageable levels, but the anxiety is always there, waiting to “trigger” a full scale panic attack, that just doubles the embarrassment you feel about how you are acting.

      I had a panic attack going into the Yale Bowl for the 94 Special Olympic World Games and HAD to leave – after going halfway into the tunnel, I had to push and shove my way back out of the stadium arch and had to go against the tide of humanity that was coming in. I was in full dress uniform and people thought that something happened and got out of my way quickly. Nothing serious happened, but I felt like an ass, it was noted to my supervisor what had happened and I had to go through a whole bunch of rigamorole over it. I haven’t been to any kind of major activity (other than Runner’s World races) since then.

      Because of this anxiety around events, I haven’t been to any Red Sox/Patriots games since 1978 or Celtics games since 1979 and as much as I talk about it and really, really want to go, probably will never go to another one, because I just can’t stand the feelings I have leading up to the games and how it feels when I am there.

      The anxiety issues are a part of who I am and something I struggle with. For me avoiding the situations that cause the worst of the anxiety attacks is what I do to combat it – probably not the “correct” way, but it works most of the time for me and most people do not notice that I have these issues. The racing is the one thing that I really want to do more of and have pushed myself to keep trying and will keep going to lower-key local races and leave the bigger ones to others who can really enjoy them. 🙂

      I guess that is why I settled out in a rural area, where there are not a lot of people and don’t get involved with too many “big” events or politics hehehehe 🙂

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