Don't let fear fail you

Looks can be deceiving.  Something that looks so simple can also be a mental obstacle course.  Sometimes, we can’t see fear but we imagine it thus creating unnecessary barriers.  Or, just maybe it makes us stronger.   “What ifs” are very famous words that cross the mind of the average human being.  Phobias often induce panic, stress, and make us feel trapped.  There seems to be a recurrent theme for me this year… control over mind – learning to find peace.

Not many people will admit their mistakes or failures.  As I mentioned before, my PeePaw’s famous words “Do not let a failure fail you” couldn’t be any truer.  We have all failed at something but it serves a purpose, it’s a tool to strengthen our mind and body.  Preparing to study for my National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam was a heavy weight to carry around early this past spring.  Sitting for a four-hour exam is hard for me.  Not only can I think that long, but that amount of time allows the anxiety to creep in and cloud my thoughts causing me to be impatient during each set of questions.  Nevertheless, I walked away knowing I failed…and I did.  That failure brought on fear causing me to procrastinate and avoid taking the exam again.  I finally found courage months later to focus, relax, and feel confident to pass the second time around…and I PASSED!  Anyone that has to sit through exams like this, know that feeling when you see “Congratulations” in the mail or online!
Sometimes in life, we need to often reward ourselves,
mentally and physically...even if it's just over a weekend!

Athletes face the same struggles.  Some fear of not performing well while some fear of not finishing.  During training, there is fear of injury or at times, it’s simply fear of the unknown.  Thanks to my friend who told me she supposedly had some good podcasts to listen to on our 4-hour drive back home from a weekend in my hometown and biking the Ironman Louisville course.  It was good until I heard a lady telling a horrid story about a raccoon with rabies!  I had no idea that rabies caused critters to be so out-of-control crazy that you basically have to chop their heads off to keep them from attacking you!  Hearing stories lately about copperheads and rattlesnakes is enough to keep a runner with snake phobia off track or enjoy what used to be “peaceful” runs.  I typically find new routes adventurous keeping the spark to ignite my motivation to run.
A bump in the road may slow you down,
but it does not mean give's just an obstacle. 
I’m the type of person who loves to be naïve with a free-spirit and adventurous soul.   I like living in a bubble because well, it keeps me from pondering negative thoughts.  A wide open, pancake road looks pretty simple but mentally, it’s full of psychological obstacles.  While I visited my in-laws in Alabama, I was looking forward to running on these county roads even though I knew there would be challenges such as heat and no shade.  However, at 95% humidity and my heart rate spiraling out of control from the fears that fed my mind…this was not the “adventurous fun” I was anticipating.  The first time I was there, I had no fear running but because of my previous run-in with wild dogs, crazy birds circling my head, and gunshots (it’s Alabama…people shoot guns for fun in their backyards – the problem while running is that you don’t know where that barrel is aimed!), it was enough to stir my mind with fears the next time around.  Then hearing about the copperheads and rattlesnakes only brought on more stress.  Oh, and there is no shoulder but luckily the roads are open enough traffic will go around you but if you have to get over…watch out for mounds of fire ants.  Whew!  That’s enough to halt anyone from exercising!  Perhaps, I’m testing my mental fitness (again).  Sure it’s scary and why would anyone put themselves in front of their fears?  It’s about control over mind and learning to find peace…and despite the spike in my heart rate when I heard the gunshots, dogs running wild, birds circling over my head, and a dead snake on the side of the road…I gained control, I won those 8 miles!

As I trained harder this year (having a coach makes you learn about your capability), pushing my limits in racing learning to be very, very comfortable being uncomfortable, I have finally climbed my way up in my age group and qualified for Hy-Vee U.S. National Championships in Olympic distance courses.  But it wasn’t easy when on race day, I faced the worst weather conditions I’ve ever raced in (and trained in!) -- cold, rainy, shin-deep mudpits and on my new triathlon race bike (aka time-trial bike).  I was so cold baring lots of skin for 25 miles of biking and couldn’t feel my extremities and phalanges (arms/legs, fingers/toes)!  Miserable but I was surprised to find I finished 30-minutes faster than my last race in Memphis and qualified for nationals!

Rain, mud & chilly temps didn't slow me down!
Instead, it built my confidence.  Now, know I can push my limits...
beyond my fears and obstacles in life. 
Fear, failure, and obstacles may be a thorn in our side, but consider it a positive factor giving us strength to tolerate the pain for the next thorn that is trying to hinder our goals in life.  Don’t let your fears fail you.

Quote of the day:  We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Bible verse of the day:  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.  ~ 2 Timothy 1:7


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