Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Welcome Back, Gusto!

During the couple of weeks before the half-marathon, my life seemed to slow to a standstill. I became very sluggish, very unproductive, and, yes, even a little depressed. I ran when I could, but not with the same gusto I had previously. I started getting weird physical symptoms--side cramps, knee pain, shoulder pain--and was afraid that I had some sort of injury. I also went on some mindless eating binges and gained a couple of pounds, which I of course carried with me for the 13.1 miles of the race.

I got a couple of calls to substitute-teach at my old school, but I told them I couldn't do it. I was too depressed to get out of bed in the morning. How was I supposed to show up for a job at 7:30 a.m.?

I became stuck on the edge of Chapter 6 of the novel I'm writing. All of a sudden, the novel seemed a waste of time.

Piano was the only thing that was working. And, sad to say, piano tends to work best when I'm trying to avoid dealing with Other Things In Life. Like fear. And I think that, on some level, I was afraid of this half-marathon. Even though I'd already run the 13.1-mile distance several times in training runs.

Two nights before the race, I had nightmares about my family disowning me. Only once in my life have I ever had nightmares like that: the night before I climbed Mt. Katahdin to begin my AT thru-hike. Some deep part of me was afraid that, by catapulting myself out of my comfort zone (and everyone else's comfort zones for me) and potentially failing, I was somehow going to render myself unlovable or unworthy or unacceptable.

Of course, I wasn't aware of that on a conscious level. But I guess that, no matter how much we challenge ourselves, we never lose the fear that necessarily accompanies such challenges. And there's one thing that I have learned: the greater the fear, the more important the challenge.

What's a little scary is that I've learned to ignore certain fears. As a result, I've ceased to realize the importance of the life-challenges they are associated with.

Odd. This was supposed to be a "Welcome Back, Gusto!" post, but instead it's made me all pensive-like.

See? Now that this race is over, I've started having deep thoughts again.

Welcome back, Gusto!

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