A few days ago, one of my professors asked a few of us students if we would like to participate in the annual half marathon hosted by Okanagan College at the Kelowna campus. I said yes, and then became immediately consumed by anxiety about possible issues that could occur on the day of. I expressed to the other students my anxiety, telling them that I hadn't trained, wasn't historically good at running, and had major performance anxiety when it comes to running races due to traumatic experiences of fitness testing in middle school. They admitted that they weren’t in race shape either, and reminded me that it was only about 4k per leg since we were splitting the half marathon 5 ways. I mentally prepared myself by not thinking about it for the subsequent days leading up to the event.
I work at a busy restaurant in Penticton, and night shifts can sometimes end up taking me into the wee hours of the morning. Luckily, I was scheduled for a day shift the Saturday before the race (8:15am start time in Kelowna the following Sunday). I worked my shift and was getting ready to head home to carbo load and watch Game of Thrones (I’m nerdily obsessed), when one of the shift leaders informed me that they were going to need me for my on-call shift that evening. I guess I hadn’t taken a very good look at the schedule as this was the first time I was hearing about this shift. Nonetheless, I quickly took my break and went to grab food, made it back on time, and began the second part of my shift expecting to get off at a decently early time due to my split shift. We got slammed. I didn’t totally mind because I made good tips, but ended up working until midnight in heels which resulted in some sore feet. I went to bed going over a conversation I had had with my mom earlier that day...
Me: “What if something bad happens?"
Mom: “Like what?"
Me: “I get a cramp, go the wrong way, shit myself…"
Mom: “None of those things are going to happen."
I tried to believe her as I fell asleep.
The next morning, I wake at 6:00am and long board to the college (my car was in the shop) to meet up with the team and carpool with my professor. Everyone is there, except for one. One whom I had seen the night before having drinks at the restaurant where I work. One that I kind of suspected wouldn’t make it up in time for the early departure time. We all climb into Prof’s car and zip to this one’s house, hoping to awake him and get him ready in time to make it to Kelowna for registration (good ol’ Prof forgot to pre-register). We send in a foot soldier, and he returns with reports of a disastrous post-party scene and a teammate that definitely won’t be making it out for the race.
We bomb to Kelowna and make it just in time, planning on having Prof run two legs as he seems to be the most aerobically prepared. He takes the first leg. We drive to my starting point. He hands the baton to me. I get going. I feel like I’m making good time… I’m passing people left and right and feeling pretty good. I get to a turnaround point where a man tells me to keep going straight through. “Marathoners this way!” he says… I, thinking that there was a half marathon AND a full one taking place, tell him that I’m not running the marathon. I tell him that I’m doing the half as a part of a relay team and turn around and run away before he can say anything else. I’m getting close to the 4k mark and my team is nowhere to be seen. I get to 5k, 5.5k… And then I realize that I’ve made a huge mistake. I am running the 10k route. I should have kept going like that dude at the turnaround said. At this point, I decide the best plan of action is to continue on the 10k route (I only have 0.5k until the finish line), and then try and find someone to drive me to find my team. I’m running down the last stretch towards the big, arcing, blowup finish line, everyone is cheering, and a lady yells, “Wow! Our first relayers! That is incredible!” I veer off just before the finish line and ask her to please help me. She sends me with a nice dude named Dave who drives me towards relay handoff point #2 in a gigantic OC moving van. I see Prof’s kia pass us going the opposite direction, yell at Dave to stop, jump out, jump in, and we rip to our runner #3. I give him the baton and he takes off. Prof and teammate #4 are laughing at my mistake but are relieved that I’m not injured, puking, passed out or dead. At this point, we’re in 5th place. There are 5 relay teams. A guy in a banana suit passes us as we wait for runner #3. He makes good time and runner #4 takes off before we load up the kia and drive to the last handoff point. Prof tells me his legs are done after borderline sprinting his first leg (I think he ran his 4k in under 10 minutes). He says he should make me run the last leg as a punishment for messing up. I laugh. He doesn’t. I’m thinking that my legs don’t actually feel too bad. We get to the spot, runner #4 gives me the baton and I head out to finish the last leg. I cross the finish line and dry heave a couple times. We take a picture. Laugh. Choke down some free food. And then prof and teammates 2 and 3 head back to Penticton while I wait for my parents to pick me up and take me to UBCO. My sister is playing in a volleyball tournament and I am lucky enough to catch her last game.
As I’m waiting, work calls. They want me to come in for my on-call shift. “What on-call shift?” Thankfully, they’re not mad, but adamant that I do a better job of checking the schedule. My parents arrive. They keep asking me how I’m doing on the drive to the university, expecting me to be full of self blame and hatred. Surprisingly, I feel okay. I don’t know if it was the endorphin high or my lack of proper nutrition, but I feel just fine. I actually feel kind of proud of myself for running 10k without training or dying. My mom starts laughing… She reminds me of our conversation the previous day. I didn’t get a cramp or shit myself, but I did go the wrong way and completely screw my team. We laugh. And I’m okay. In the past, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been. I would have beaten myself up for days over the crucial mistake, AND missing a work shift. But I don’t. And that, I think, is proof that I am moving towards actualizing my goal of total self love.
Some things I learned:
- Check the damn work schedule.Thoroughly.
- Never expect to get off work at any time at all. Expect to live there. Forever.
- Anxiety can be avoided by simply ignoring it until it needs to be addressed. This sounds like a poor coping strategy, but it works.
- I can run 10k.
- I hate running.
- I love how I feel after I run.
- I want to enter some races this summer.
- I don’t hate myself and am capable of self forgiveness.
If anything, I hope this little adventure gave you a laugh, or at least made you feel better about whatever you did this weekend.
If you did mess up (hopefully not as badly as I did), forgive yourself. I forgive you. The universe forgives you. I love you.
Peace peace peace,