The only thing to fear is fear itself (and sucking, that’s scary too).

I had to take a blogging hiatus there for a bit because of a GIANT exam I had two weeks ago.  I basically spent a month with my nose in a book reading about medicare, 1035 exchanges and charitable remainder trusts.  If you were bored reading that sentence, imagine how I felt.  It was a two day, 10 hour exam.  Interestingly, I found that it was yet another thing that I believe triathlon training has helped me with.  People were freaking out heading into this thing and I was a calm as a cucumber (which, please don’t take as an indication that I passed).  During the breaks I heard people whining and moaning about how exhausting it was.  “Exhausting?”  You have no idea what exhausting is,” I wanted to say back.  It’s further evidence for me that endurance sports training is more than about being in control of your body.  It’s about being in control of your emotions under the weight of duress, be it physical or mental….but, I digress.  At any rate, the exam takes about 6-8 weeks for grading and has a 55% pass rate (eek!).  I’ll be checking the mail box like I’m a senior in high school waiting for college acceptance letters.

The Sunday after the exam I woke up with no Ironman to train for and no exam to study for.  It has been over 2 years since I have last been able to say that.  It was a strange feeling, and not, necessarily, a good one.  Truthfully, I felt a little empty.  For the last two years, Ironman has really been a large part of how I’ve identified myself.  It’s strange to be taking a break.

One of the things I have decided is that I can’t chase 2011’s results in 2012.  2011 has really been a dream come true.  I don’t want to try to replicate it next year.  So, I took a complete chance and threw my hat in the ring for the 2012 Team FeXY off-road team.  The team was newly started and they were accepting applications regardless of race background.  Seeing has I’ve never done a single Xterra race, it’s a good thing the requirements were lifted.

So, I got a new mountain bike (who is still without a name) and I’ve been out on the trails trying not to kill myself (which has proven to be a tall order).  I’ve bitten the dust a few times, but I am having a complete blast.  Each day I get out, I try to push myself a little more. For the most part, I’m trying every obstacle in front of me.  Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not, but I’m enjoying the challenge.

The as yet unnamed bike

I’ve noticed, though, that while I am not afraid of falling I am afraid of having my failure witnessed.  There have been a few times that I’ve gone riding with fast, experience mountain bikers.  This Sunday was an example.  I was heading out to meet up with a few guys from our team and the whole way there my heart rate felt elevated and my palms were sweaty.  I wasn’t afraid of falling.  I was afraid of being the dumb, slow girl who was holding everyone up.

Ryan got into a pump track this weekend.  There were half a dozen people in it with him and he was calling me in.  I hadn’t even known what in the heck a pump track was up to this point, let alone seen one.  I wasn’t afraid of crashing in it.  I was afraid of having the other people watch me crash in it and look like a moron.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt this fear of failure before.  Although, I vividly recall having it before team track workouts and group road rides a few season ago when I was still learning the ropes.  I remember going to a track workout and not being able to keep up with anyone.  I remember being gun-shy from that experience and making myself go to another track practice and then another one.  The fear dissipated and went away then.  I trust it will again.  Still, though, it’s a really scary thing to thrust yourself into a completely new and foreign endeavor.  Especially when it would be so easy to just get on my road bike, sign up for another Ironman or 70.3 and start training the way I know how.

I was sharing this fear with Ryan this morning.  Actually, I hadn’t told him how I was feeling yet.  I had just told him that I didn’t think I was going to do a cyclocross race that we had talked about doing that is this weekend.  He asked why.

“Because I’m afraid,” I told him.

“You could have told me any other reason and that would have been fine, but being afraid isn’t good enough,” he said.  “If that is your reason, I will drag you there by your ear lobes.”

I know that he is right.  I know that being afraid isn’t a good enough reason.  Sometimes, though, I just wish that I could just let myself be.

I know I felt fearful at so many steps on the road that led me to triathlon, but I am so grateful that I pushed myself along the way.  It led to some of the most amazing experiences of my life.

I truthfully don’t know if I will be able to overcome my fear and register for this race this weekend.  Although, putting it on a public blog certainly makes it more likely.



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