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Kicking Out The Doubt Demons

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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

For this blog, I felt it only fitting to borrow a phrase originally coined by my friend (and author of the books "The Competitor In Me" and "The Competitor In Me II: Facing The Fear"), Francie Van Wirkus. Francie started out running and eventually went on to become a triathlete and then an Ironman. Obviously, Francie is a huge inspiration to me and definitely a driving force behind my interest in triathlon.

In her books, Francie frequently refers to those inner voices that come against a person and try to discourage or bring fear. She calls them "doubt demons". And she talks about how she works to defeat those doubt demons over and over and over and over. Sadly, they never seem to go away forever.

Before this injury, I thought I knew the doubt demons. But, for the past few days, I feel like they have descended upon my spirit en masse. Even in my passion and fervor to learn how to ride a bike and plan my various workouts and keep my calorie consumption under control, they have still be having a good old time in my brain. You see, that's the thing about doubt demons...they don't care how hard you work or what actions you have taken to do what's right...they just keep picking at you. They keep demeaning and they keep discouraging.

Today, I felt overwhelmed by them. As I said, it's been building for a few days. Nightmares and everything. In particular, though, I have begun to doubt my ability to run my 5k on Saturday (a 5k!) And I was getting close to panicking about being ready for my 10k race on September 29th. That's not very far away, you know. And, when I thought about my half marathon on October 20th, well...that is not even something I can describe. The doubt demons were EATING ME ALIVE on that one. They kept saying, "You won't be ready. What do you think you're doing? You can't do this, Leah. You will hurt yourself. You will make a fool of yourself."

Today, I knew what I needed to do. At some point, you just have to prove them wrong. And that is the only way to silence them. I was supposed to run 3.1 this morning. But the weather was so dark and foggy, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I got home from a full day of work just wiped out. But I knew I had to do it. I couldn't handle those voices of discouragement one minute longer.

I went for my run. The first real run since I was injured 7 weeks ago. Warmed up with a 5 minute walk and then ran for 5 minutes. Walk break. So far, so good. If I can do 5 minutes running, 1 minute walking the entire way...that's not bad! But, my gosh, it 90 degrees and who knows what the nasty humidity was! I walked one minute, ran 2 minutes and had to walk again. Sweat was POURING down.

Doubt Demons: See, you've lost it. You cannot do this. You have to start all over.

Ran 4 minutes and had to walk.

Doubt Demons: You're never going to be in shape by the 29th. No way.

Ran 2 minutes and walked.

Doubt Demons: How could you register for that half marathon? You probably wasted your money.

Finally, I was at the halfway point. 1.55 miles. Actually, I thought, I'm on time with my normal pace, despite all the extra walk breaks. So, I'm not doing so badly. Also, it's freaking 90 degrees out here and I can barely breathe. And, it's afternoon (not my most energetic time) and I'm exhausted from this day!

Doubt Demons: Excuses.

No...no...grace. Because I haven't done this in 7 weeks. And it wasn't my fault I got injured and I did the right thing by resting. If I keep working and putting in the miles, I'll be ready. You know what? Shut up. SHUT UP now!

From that point on, they were silent. I broke the last half of the run up into small pieces...just like when I first started running back in March. Just go from this sign to that next sign. Go from this curve to the top of that hill. Go from that next curve to the curve after that. Just go up this little hill and then you can walk. Just run the rest of the way home and you'll be done.

In the end, I made it in 45 minutes - with heat, with humidity, with doubt demons, and without the normal energy that I have in my morning runs.

My PR in a 5k is 42 mins 30 secs. If conditions had been better, perhaps I could have met that time.

When I realized that I just might PR this race on Saturday, well...I don't know what happened to those stupid DDs but they are gone.

I have time before September 29th and October 20th. One thing at a time.

For now, Bloomingfoods 5k on Saturday...YOU ARE MINE.
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