Monday, December 31, 2012

What scares you?

By MattW

No, I'm not talking about sharks, clowns or animals dressed as people. 

A couple of years ago a friend called me up and asked me if I would join him in signing up and training for a sprint triathlon. Without much hesitation I agreed. I'm not sure what I was thinking, or what made me say yes, but as I hung up the phone I realized that I was completely and utterly terrified. Could I  even do this?
That fear drove me out of bed on those cold early mornings. It pushed me as I (re)learned how to swim and started running. As race day approached, I felt well prepared, but there was still some of that residual fear prickling up on the back of my neck. After all, I had never done anything like this before! It was hard, even still that swim remains one of the hardest things I've ever done - Yet somehow I did it. 

I may be smiling on the outside... (L)

Fast forward a little less than a year to 2011. I found myself clicking "Submit" on registration for the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50K. My longest run at the time was 13 miles. Yep, you guessed it - I was terrified. I had a few months to train, and was under the best tutelage anyone could ask for, and I got there.

The races and adventure runs in 2011 started to become more frequent that year as I pushed (and was pushed) to stretch what I expected of myself:

Zion Traverse (attempt) - Petrified
Pacing Craig for 40 miles in the Laramie 100 - Didn't think I could do it
Pony Express 50 miler - Yep, still scared

2011 Pony Express 50 finish - with Josh

Despite the fear, each time a challenge arose I would trust in the training and work that I had put in, and lived to tell the tale. 

As I burst into 2012 my level of experience, confidence and expectations for myself had grown by leaps and bounds. As I now look back on the year though, it occurred to me that I didn't really do anything in relation to my running (with one exception) that truly terrified me like the previous year had been full of. While I was able to have some amazing running experiences, even running longer and faster, I was missing that element of fear that had driven me. 

The 2012 "Exception" - Pacing Craig the last 47 of Wasatch

This realization motivated me to (with a little peer pressure) start off 2013 by pulling the trigger on putting in for the Wasatch 100. This is something that terrifies me, but I know I can do it, and relish the opportunity to have a lofty goal to reach. Hopefully the path to that goal also includes other such "terrifying" challenges.

Check is in the mail

I'm often asked (as I'm sure many of us are) if I ever worry about falling while running trails. My answer is simple: "Nope - I know that I will fall, so I don't worry about it". If we're always scared of falling, it's likely that we'll never do anything worth doing! 

I hope that as we ring in this New Year you will join me in the challenge to terrify yourself (running or otherwise)! Do something that scares you! That challenge will be different for each one of us. Surround yourself with people that will push you beyond what you believe is possible, and go out and get it done!  

Here's a little something from earlier in the year...just for fun. 


jun said...

Unbelievable article. Thanks for posting that. So cool.

ultrajim said...

Did my first tri in 2011 at Boise Half Ironman. Scared the crap out of me but I finished and had a great time. Leadville 100 in 2011 scared me as well with the altitude and tough cutoff time. Made it. There's something about being scared like that that motivates. Great article. I need to find something new to frighten me.

Kelli said...

NICE!!! You are an incredible runner and i never once knew you were scared for any of these things! I am still afraid of falling, can you help me???

Brian Beckstead said...

Matt- you are a stud. Great article.

I've finished Wasatch twice...and I'm still petrified.