Of 26.2 and Vanquishing Self-Doubt

Although I love a great redemption story, this isn’t one that I’m telling. On Saturday I ran the Rock n’ Roll DC marathon, my first. I wasn’t there pushing through a horrific injury or life event, and there would be no life-or-death consequences if I didn’t finish…unless I collapsed and died. In that case I asked my running-guru friend to tweet #DiedTrying in my honor.

No, the only opponent I was battling on Saturday was Self-doubt. I’ve battled her before, but most times she gets me to quit before I even try. She’s that good.

Self-doubt didn’t think I could run 26.2 miles and didn’t like my choosing to make our disagreement public. On Saturday she turned up turnt up and ready to kick some (my) ass. She sat next to me on the train and yelled: “Girl you know you can still go home right?” She helpfully observed as I did my warm up stretches: “you know you look stupid.” She scoffed openly as I rehearsed my survival strategy (Chi-running techniques, a determination to keep breathing no matter what, and Philippians 4:13, and Hebrews 12: 1–3.)

Self-doubt lined up beside me at the starting line and the battle was on! She threw left hooks of aching calf muscles, and right hooks of sore hip flexors. She threw an emergency porta-potty upper cut at Mile 7 and followed it up with straight ominous-portend jabs of urgent final digestive outcomes. I countered with core Chi and a decent lean. I pleaded with gravity for help, and fervently chanted “I can do all things…”, “I can do all things…”

Self-doubt went for the knockout punch at Mile 23 when she threw a straight hamstring-cramp body shot. I staggered to a stop. She smiled — smug and victorious pity — but her smirk made me so angry I knew I had to make her irrelevant. I lurched forward and somehow willed myself to keep lurching. Eventually the hamstring cramp dissolved into petulant grumbles. Self-doubt was done and she knew it. As I crossed the finish line I glimpsed her fading to nothing and smiled. I hope she noticed it was smug.

26.2 miles later.