Monday, March 5, 2012

Overcoming fear and willing to walk/run in truth

Alone in the Rio Grande Bosque during my first 5K
Photo: Katherine Belvin, EWB-UNM
I did it! On Saturday, March 3, I completed my first 5K race with a respectable time! Well, I think it's respectable. And if it isn't to anyone else, it sure as hell is to me!

In a field of 64 competitors, I placed 60th with a gun time of 38 minutes and 38 seconds in the Engineers Without Borders-University of New Mexico 5K River Run. I thought that was pretty cool, considering I was 38 years old when I first got serious with my fitness journey. The pace of 12 minutes and 26 seconds per mile is alright by me, too. I don't really know, though, since I don't have any prior running experience to compare it to.

Happiness is knowing you're not alone even when you are!
Photo: Katherine Belvin, EWB-UNM
Running this 5K has shifted my mindset about running. Before, I was afraid to run, even if no one was looking. I think primarily I was afraid that "true runners" would look at me and laugh, judge me for my size or the way my belly jiggled as I jogged. But even more, I was afraid my knees or ankles would just give out under me. I was afraid I'd run out of breath and collapse right there mid-trail.

But as I said in my previous post, I buy into the Green Lantern mantra that fear is the enemy of will. And if we banish fear, will prevails. So following the advice of a wise younger runner, I started off slowly and finished strong. And I was chanting "I will, I will, I will, I will, I will", as I jogged the final third of the race and crossed the finish line in style.

I've been inspired a lot lately by Green Lantern and my other Justice League heroes. But besides these fictional characters, I am also inspired by someone very real. In fact, it is the living example of someone who I respect and love deeply that made me believe that completing this fast-fleshed-out goal was possible. This person is a dedicated runner who has supported my fitness journey in ways I would need much more room than a simple blog entry to highlight.

This person taught me how to cook and prepare healthy meals in advance, so I wouldn't have to rely on prepackaged junk. He taught me to be kind to myself and others I meet along the way. Through him I am learning the importance of being true to myself, and to not fear unexpected consequences but rather deal with them as they come. And I am learning through our relationship that not even his love for me is more crucial to my success than my own love for myself. Because, as our pal Ru Paul says, "If you can't love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen!" Amen!

Mostly, though, he has taught me that I should learn to look up from my feet from time to time, to notice others traveling alongside me and the path that they are on. Because if I don't, I could lose footing and end up hurting those I'm traveling with, and miss out on walking with their love.

Anyway, I'm still working on unconditionally loving myself. Part of my process is overcoming fears and learning to walk in truth at all times. This process is a long road that will take some seriously reflective time to  fully travel. And while I hope I will not find myself alone at road's end, if I do, I will still be content. Because I know that what really matters is how I traveled the road and that I got better at walking every step of the way.

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