That feeling like I can't do this is creeping in again. I've never been a great, or even a good, athlete. I have no business pretending to be a runner. The Brooks tank and Mizuno shoes might make me look the part, but I'm not fooling myself. This isn't who I am. I don't run races. I am not a runner. This isn't me.
I had a particularly bad run today. Put it this way: I intended to do a good trial run for the 5K I'm registered for next week. It started out as a decent run; it turned into a lovely walk. Well, not that lovely, really, because I spent the better part of it psychoanalyzing myself.
Me: Why can't I do this?
Voice: You just can't.
Me: But I should be able to. I ran 2.5 outside less than a week ago and 3.12 (a 5K) on the treadmill two days ago. I really should be able to do this.
Voice: Well, you can't. Your coaches always said you were inconsistent. Here's just more proof.
Me: Well, maybe it's just a bad day. I can try again tomorrow.
Voice: And what if you have a "bad day" on race day? The 5K is only a week away. And the half marathon in February? How are you ever going to do 13.1 miles when you can't even do 3?!
Me: I wonder if there's a way I can get my money back for the 1/2 marathon registration. . .
Luckily I still had a mile or so to go before I got home, and the more positive me came back and started to talk the voice down. I was probably having a bad day because I hadn't gotten to bed until 1:00 AM and hadn't eaten much today. That might explain why my legs felt like lead when they usually feel GREAT at the start of a run. And of course, the voice was having a particularly strong showing today. I let it get fueled by lots of things -- the looming 5K that I am really excited and nervous for (reality is setting in that I am actually going to do this), my husband's much more rapid success in becoming a runner (he started running a month ago and is already doing three miles), and just many other insecurities that I am dealing with (like comments of people who don't get what it's like to be a struggling athlete). As bad as my run was today, the voice had a great one. But in that last mile or so to home I got rational, logical even. I have had bad runs before, and they are almost always followed by great ones. There were real physical reasons why I might not have done so well today and admittedly some mental ones, too. I am still in decent shape to do the 5K (I hear race day energy really helps), and the 1/2 marathon is five months away. I can still do this.
Unfortunately, my logical rational side ran out when I got home and saw my husband. I opened the door and announced, "I didn't run." He looked at me, and as though I were speaking Greek said, "What do you mean you didn't run?" (Side note: As logical and rational as I was, I am a woman whose emotions sometimes get the better of her, particularly when talking to my husband.) I had intended to calmly rehash my shortcomings with him, but I am pretty sure that comment set me off into the emotional windstorm that followed. I even tried to take a minute to calm down and told him I was upset and didn't want to take it out on him, but . . .
My husband and I are wired very differently. He's rather competitive. I am not. If I had half of his competitiveness I might have been an exceptional soccer player. I had the skills, my coaches would always say, I just didn't have the killer instinct. If I were as competitive as my husband I'd have been an All-American. Regardless, he listened well to my semi-rational mostly emotional tirade and was very supportive. We did have a bit of typical male/female misunderstandings in the course of conversation, and my husband needs to remember that just telling me to "keep your head from getting in the way" doesn't work for me. I have many years of legitimate "head" issues, ghosts, that I am running against here. If I could just keep them out of the way, this wouldn't be so damn hard.
Still, he's right, and I do know that. I have to get out of my head. I can't let the ghosts catch me. They're trying really hard, and today they won the practice race. They will not, however, get the better of me. I'll be back out there again soon, and they won't catch me. They tell me I don't run races, let alone a half marathon -- that's not who I am. They're right. That's not who I am, but it's who I want to be -- who I will be.