How to Beat Fear in the Human Race and Get a Shiny Medal

Okay, so maybe, if you beat fear out of your life, you won’t get a shiny gold medal.

But you should.

Living in fear is something so many people do every day.  And for some, fear is a legitimate reaction to preserve the human race.  If you live in Syria, for example.  If I lived in Syria, I am all in favor of my nervous system telling to get the hell outta somewhere dangerous.

But in the modern world, I’m not encountering real danger very often.  When was the last time the threat of death or even physical harm stopped you from doing anything?  Has fear stopped you from getting your eyebrows threaded/giving a speech/joining a circus?

I, being in lovely suburban, middle-class America, decided to go to get my eyebrows threaded one sunny afternoon.

And yet, despite the sun shining (er, rainclouds storming), birds chirping (I mean, the sound of construction workers tearing up the roads), I was wracked with anxiety.  I was literally shaking as I drove to the Place Where They Extract My Eyebrow Hairs.  I wanted to cry.  I was so overwhelmed with fear.

This is something I have done for several years.  (Ah, the power of the threader over my upkeep.)

But why?  I have, on occasion, ended up with manly eyebrows, and the world has not ended.   The process itself is quick and painless, too.

So.

In lieu of an actual medal, I give you a mneumonic to go through.  MEDAL: Meditate, Excavate, Detonate, Allocate, Lactate  (just kidding…the actual last word is Live, but I really wanted an -ate to finish off the list…ah, well, c’est la vie). 

Meditate:  Why are you so afraid?  Some thought, not much, needs to occur.  Be careful not to get too deep into your thoughts, which can lead to melancholy, over-analysis, and some serious Google-searching anxiety cropping up at three am over fears deeply rooted in your childhood.  Meditation is not the most important here.  Find a reason, settle upon it, and move on!  Most anything will do.  Realizing that there is a reason, however trite or important, and acknowledging it, is important.  In my case, I realized that it was because going to the Place Where They Extract My Eyebrow Hairs reminded me of my younger self, when I hated running into my peers there.  It was like going to the Place was openly admitting that I was an ape of hair.   An APE!

I was so convinced. This was the me the world saw.

Excavate:  Take those memories out of your head and put them in your current situation.  I have hair.  So does everyone else.  I take pride in taking care of myself, and if I feel great after the process, shouldn’t I feel great before and during the threading as well?

Detonate:  Imagine those memories, sticking them in a box, and exploding all the negative feelings and insecurities that (possibly) accompany them.  BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM.

Allocate:  Yes, that time in your life was bad.  Instead of ruminating on this, allocate those emotions to a better, more charitable use.  Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, donate that pity to a cause like  girls who can’t afford an education or perhaps contributing to the fund for fallen rangers who have died protecting apes.

Live: Finally, go get your eyebrows threaded/finish that speech/join a circus.  You’ve earned your medal.

 

Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part III

Right as I was about to run through Cinderella’s Castle, I saw Minnie in true princess fashion!  So, so excited.  The attendant warned that the line was closing in two minutes, but I made it!  Hurrah!

While I was on line, I saw the two unofficial balloon pacers walk by (they were walking a 16-minute-per-mile pace, the minimum needed to stay in the race, not get picked up & driven to the finish line).  I had always trained at about a 12:15 mile on my long runs, so I wasn’t worried–but I didn’t take into account walk breaks because I was sick, photo stops with characters, and a bathroom break.  Still, I wasn’t giving up a photo with Minnie!

Or The Princess and the Frog characters:

I LOVED their costumes and they were so friendly!  Definitely one of the highlights of the race.  At this point, the bikers informed me I was two minutes behind pace and I needed to catch up.  I asked if I stayed ahead of the bikers–would I be okay then?  They said no, I had to be in front of the balloon pacers–the ones that had passed me while I was on line for Minnie!  Aaaagh.  I sped off through Frontierland and rocketed forward.  I skipped the HUGE line for Sleeping Beauty as soon as I got out of the MK because I did NOT want to get driven to the finish line!  I must have been running an 8:00/mile pace; I was so terrified I would be picked up during the race.  I knew it was not an empty threat and I had been in a completely empty Adventureland (minus two women, but I’ll get to them later).  Luckily, I caught up to the balloon pacers and walked slightly ahead of them for a while.

At mile 7, Kelly Clarkson’s What Doesn’t Kill You was blasting on the speakers.  We were running on a VERY narrow strip of road backstage, and the walking and the song provided a much-needed boost.  I decided to pick up the pace to give myself a little wiggle room.  One man cheering on racers said, “Run faster! There’s free beer at the finish line!”  When no one picked up the pace, he started singing, “Iiiiit’s a small world after all, iiit’s a small world aaaaafter all…” over and over.  He was hilarious (and I obligingly picked up the pace).  As cute as that ride is, that song never gets stuck out of my head!
Stitch just went on a break when I passed by, but Lilo was still there!  Lilo & Stitch is definitely one of my favorite Disney movies, so I was psyched.  I was also feeling good, well ahead of the pacers, and running strong.

I saw my parents again at mile 8!  They made it!  Based on my 5k and 10k automated text updates, they weren’t expecting me for another twenty minutes at least.  I gave them a quick hug, explained I need to be speedy because of the balloon pacers, and took off.

I saw Goofy and golf gear and I had to stop…I mean, why not?! (Well, because I was terribly aware that the pacers were very close behind.)

Now, I had to wait in line for Goofy.  No problem.  But it was behind the same two women whom I had been behind since Adventureland–and they brought their autograph books with them.  Both of them.  It was incredibly, incredibly frustrating that I had to wait for the two of them for three photos while the characters signed.  With the pacers so close, this really shouldn’t be allowed.  Luckily, the character attendant for Goofy refused and I took off soon after.  I was determined to get ahead of them before the next photo.

Which I did!  Hi, Pocahontas.  I was a little nervous here because I could SEE the pacers from here! AAAH!  We were circling past the MK again and back down the other side of the highway, the opposite side from where we came.

In reality, when ants aren’t purple and cute, I hate ants.  But here I stopped for A Bug’s Life photo.

It was past mile 10 (I passed it around A Bug’s Life!), my first time in double-digits as a runner.  This Toy Story soldier was telling me to keep on keepin’ on!

More and more people were walking as we neared mile 11, but I kept on running!  As we ran over an overpass, they had cars clearing the highway of runners.

Up next: Mile 11 and the Magical Finish!  Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part IV

Something That Scares You

I promised a while ago that I would post about trying spin for the first time. Technically, it wasn’t my first time (I tried it once in June 2009). I’ve blocked that memory from my head.

This is what I knew when I first signed up for spin that fateful day:

-It was on a bike.
-It was set to music.
-It was a good workout!

Hey, it sounded good to me. At the time, I had just started my gym membership and only taken half-hour classes, so I assumed spinning was a half-hour, too.

HAHAHA. As you spinners know, it is quite intense. However, I didn’t read fitness blogs at the time, and I had absolutely no idea what was in store for me.

I had only been running for twenty minutes at a time back then, and I was just starting to get in shape. When the instructor said to increase the tension, I increased it every time. I struggled, waiting for the half-hour mark. When we showed no sign of cooling down, I assumed it was a 45 minute class. At 40 minutes I realized it was an hour class. I looked around me at all the hardcore spinners and felt crestfallen. They were still going strong.

They even had fancy water bottles. =(

I was exhausted. I was intimidated. And I wanted OUTTA THERE! I hopped off that bike at the conclusion of the class, felt happy that I survived (and defeated at the same time), and thought I would try again someday. When I was ready.

“When I was ready” turned out to be two years later. Today. I’d been eyeing the spin schedule, but I didn’t have the guts to take it on.

Thanks to prom, my sleep schedule was all messed up. I woke up at 5:00 am. I’m an early riser, but that’s pushing it for me! Despite trying to get back to sleep, my stomach was roaring, so I gave in, made breakfast, and decided to do something crazy. Spin.

I drove to the gym with classical music on, hoping to calm down. I mustered the cheeriest good morning to the receptionist and signed up at 6:10 am, then hopped on the treadmill for forty minutes. Guilty pleasure while walking on the treadmill: reading the Gossip Girl series. It’s so addicting! My 2 miles were filled with the cattiness and glitz of Manhattan socialites.

I was so scared of taking spin again that I almost walked out after my warm-up. After a quick stretch, I entered the workout room. Luckily, some nice spinners showed me how to move and adjust my bike.

I’m proud to say I didn’t struggle until about 40 minutes in. I stopped increasing the tension, then, and didn’t hesitate to back off. After injuring myself from pushing it, I’m slooowly learning the difference between challenging your limits and pushing myself past the critical point of pain. Discomfort is okay. Sharp pain is NOT okay. This is now permanently ingrained in my head.

I walked out of the class today encouraged by the friendly spinners. I’m going to back just to completely get over my fear of it, but today was encouraging. I really love working out in the morning.

Good day! Now if only I could get my left eye to stop burning from too much chlorine….


(Dinner was leftovers from T.G.I. Friday’s: Jack Daniel’s chicken and sweet potato fries on top of romaine and tomatoes. My mom thinks I’m weird because I combine potatoes and lettuce. I THINK NOT.)

My legs were sore today, so I took it easy and stretched out with a swim.

I was craving a burger (although I doubt nothing will surpass my beloved Shack Shack), so I decided to head to Checkers. I got a Cheese Champ accidentally, but it was good. Next time, I’m going to forgo the mayo. (Sometimes, I just have to say AYYYYYYYO, PLEASE NO MAYO.)


(I took it on my phone, because in true classiness, I ate in my car.)

For dinner, I cooked grilled some delicious eggplant with mozzarella and tomatoes, on top of spaghetti. I also had a salad with tomato, mozzarella, and honey mustard dressing. YUM.


(SO DELISH. I could eat eggplant forever, pretty much.)

(I love putting the cheese from the main course in my salad. It’s like the previews that get you excited for the movie.)

(My snack on top of my workout schedule. The banana is covering all my “tough” workouts, I swear. Accompanied by much more than two of those amazing chocolate-covered cashews. I could munch on these lots more. Soooo good.)


Sunday:
40 min. walk (2 miles) + 60 min. spin + 45 min. swim
Monday: 30 min. swim

What’s something that scares you? Is it a workout that pushes your limits, or a new situation that gives you the jitters?

Scare Yourself

I’m a big believer in pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

That is…until I actually have to step out of it!

I’ve always been a little bit afraid of heights. Or more accurately, I’ve been afraid of falling. I’ve learned to enjoy the thrill of roller coasters, but one thing has always sent me shaking–views of cliffs and harnesses.

That’s right: rock climbing.

My adventure the other day may not have been momentous as the rock climbing I’ve been eyeing on Expedition: Impossible, but it was an adventure nonetheless. At a local festival, I attempted the task of inflatable rock climbing:

Step 1:
Ditch the shoes! YOUR SHOES HOLD YOU BACK. Hmmm, well, that quite fits with all the reading I’ve done on barefoot running recently. (More on my running philosophy later this week.)

Step 2:
Strap on that harness!
There comes a time in life when you don’t want anything to tie you down.
This is not one of those times.

Step 3:
CONQUER THAT INFLATABLE TIKI TOWER!

It was not easy. I attempted it once and only made it halfway up. But the second time, that tiki tower was mine! Take that!

Of course, I rewarded myself with some lovely, complimentary popcorn afterward.

Now I’m absolutely looking forward to experiencing indoor rock climbing at The Inner Wall this fall. I’m not quite ready for outdoor climbing yet….

After all, the very next day, I was shaking on a ladder as I put up yard decorations. I told myself that if I could make it up a tiki tower, I could certainly make it up to the third step of the ladder.

And I did.

Whether your fear is climbing the local mountain or stepping foot on a ladder, you can overcome it!

Happy adventuring!