Yesterday I ran my first 5k and I admit I am rather proud because I placed 2nd in my age group. I was surprised when people told me, I had no intentions of winning anything — I had a certain time/pace goal, but the thought of placing did not cross my mind. It was a nice surprise. However, as proud as I am of what I accomplished with my body I feel even more sense of pride in that I actually tried it. I was too anxious to sign up for several weeks. I went a few times with intentions of signing up and I even went online to register at least five times; each time I felt panic rise up and I could not do it.
I felt like I was annoying people because I kept asking them if they were going to run.
I kept talking about it because I wanted to try it, but I could not overcome the panicky feelings that would rise within me when I thought about it. I get frustrated with myself when I do this, I try not to, but it is such an aggravating experience for me. I want to do something, but the unknown takes hold of my mind and it becomes consumed with every possible scenario or I see nothing. It feels black, empty, with vapors of fears misting through my thoughts. I am not afraid to fail. It has nothing to with that. In my mind, just attempting something new is a great accomplishment. The time it takes to prep and then, follow through is WINNING! (I feel that with most things, the areas where I struggle with perfectionism is different and they normally have to do with intellect or emotional needs of others , that is a whole other post.)
My anxiety comes from social fears and sensory unexpectedness.
When it is a special interest of mine, I can press through these overwhelming feelings. My desire is so strong for my special interest that I am unstoppable. Yes, I still have to talk myself into moving forward or make myself go places while almost in tears and hyperventilating, but in the end it is something that I care about so much that I can get through it sooner. Something that I am somewhat interested in or intrigued to try, I find my anxiety can talk me out of it quickly. I will feel disappointed, but the amount of energy that I would need to use in order to do it does not seem worth it. I have done this with so many things. The more that I thought about the race the more I felt like this was something that I had to do. I needed to try it because it felt challenging on so many different levels.
I thought about all of the experiences that I had missed out on because of my social anxiety and I did not want this one to be another thing that I did not do.
I found myself openly talking to people at the YMCA about my anxiety. At first, they thought it was about how well I would do in the race. They encouraged me and told me that I would do great which, I will say has been quite a fantastic experience to have so many people be encouraging and build into me. People on my facebook page were encouraging as well. It gave me such a boost of positivity and courage to follow through. I am thankful for everyone who did that for me. I explained to those who did not understand my reasons for being anxious, that my main source of anxiety was due to the fact that I was going to be surrounded by about three hundred people in a situation that I had never been in before. The unknown filled my mind with AAAAAAGGGGGG!!!
It still did not register with some people, but they were kind.
There were others who understood and those who had done it before explained as much to me as possible. They also, gave me helpful tips for running and being in that atmosphere. A couple of my friends from cycle class and boot camp invited me to go with them. This helped a great deal, and they were so supportive — I was really amazed. I have not had many friends in my life, especially, ones who are sympathetic, encouraging, and supportive like this. It made such a difference for me. I could not sleep the night before, keep in mind David’s mom and aunt were coming that afternoon too. It was just another component to my social anxiety, nothing bad, it was that we had not seen her in about six years. That can cause me confusion with social dynamics if I am not around a person for a long period of time. Side note: The visit went great and everyone had a wonderful time. The visit was another reason why I kept teetering on whether I wanted to run or not.
Too many social interactions and new things could spiral me.
However, I decided I was determined to work through this. To help me, I had to force myself to go to the running group that I signed up with to train for the half marathon. I was not going to go because I was consumed with anxiousness, the group is a few hundred people who participate. I had paid for this so it gave me an additional reason to go, and I decided that it would help prepare me for the upcoming group at the 5k. I had a lot of support and many people from the Y that were running too. It was one of the socially “safest” first 5k’s I could do. I was a little bummed that I would not have any family there, but I worked through that because I have grown accustomed to doing things on my own. There was no way that David and the kids could come and my aunt had left for vacation. I was ok with that, BUT my dad surprised me and told me that he was going to drive into town to cheer me on. I had a moment of panic, mixed feelings, and then I was overcome with good feelings.
It’s how I process, panic at something new or unexpected, then being bombarded with all sorts of thoughts and emotions, finally ending with my settled feelings.
I was happy that he was there it felt really good to have someone there at the finish line. It felt good to have my dad there. On my way home, I thought of what it was like only a few hours before. I was shaking, trying to maintain control of my breathing, working through feelings of frustration with not being able to stop, overcome with panicky feelings about my friends, I had feelings of fear that they would think I was ridiculous or that my anxiety would be the cause of me losing them as friends. I was shaking, and trying to maintain control right until the gun went off for us to start. I did pretty well at being ok in front of everyone else, but on the inside I was freaking out. I knew that I had to find some sort of calm so that I could run and keep control of my breathing.
After I got going, I felt much better.
I am not one who loves running, I did enjoy myself though and the end results definitely made it even more positive. I was running alone for a while and starting lose my zest, but then a couple of ladies from my boot camp caught up with me and three of us practically made the finish line all together. It was a great feeling, they won too in their age group. I am glad that I did it and now I will be more at ease for the 10k that is coming up in several weeks. I just need to do something once and then, I am usually fine after that. I will still have anxiety, but if I have positives to remember I do much better. I felt great accomplishment by following through with it. I was amazed too at how my family gave me so much support. They posted on facebook and texted me how proud they were which, I have not experienced with other things that I have done so I was a little confused, but I got over it. It felt really good to experience and be able to have something to share with so many of them.
I plan on running the half marathon with several of my family members this coming October.
I am looking forward to having a shared experience with them, it’s a good feeling to have a connection in some way. I think this was a another big mind shift for me. This was something that I never thought I would or could do, I did not even know I could run! I overcame a huge feat within myself this weekend, not only with trying something new, but with my relationships. I received a trophy for the race, while that is really exciting because I have never received a trophy except for participation before, I believe I received much more in that I saw things in myself that I have never seen before. I had moments of actually, being able to see how others saw me. I have a difficult time with that and I do have to work through dismissive thoughts that come immediately into my mind, but I have so many positive anchors to hold on to that it makes it somewhat easier.
I am determined to not allow anxiety to take anymore experiences away from me, too much good can come from new experiences.