Marathon Monday: On overcoming fear

As you know from last week's introductory marathon monday post, our very own Erica Ferrell will be running the 2016 Boston Marathon. In the weeks leading up to the race, she'll be sharing her thoughts on her training and giving us a peek into what it takes to prepare for a race like this. This week, she shares the highs and lows of training, and what it takes to mentally overcome our fears. With that, take it away, Erica!

This past week was filled with many emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, love, & determination (to name just a few). Over this week, I attended a wake for a friend's nephew who died too young and very unexpectedly, celebrated my daughter's 6th birthday, cross-trained (& then some), ran my 18 mile training run on Saturday and I reached my fundraising goal!  And through it all, I found, yet again, the steadfast community that I am so fortunate to be surrounded by, as my anchor. 

When I say that it takes a village to do this training and fundraising, it is no joke. My husband was at a course for work on Saturday, all day long. There was no way I'd be pushing Ella & Nate in my double bob for 18 miles. Thanks to my friends (Emily & Tim) I dropped the kids off at their house at 7:30am and set out for my long run. And it was a beautiful day: sunshine, not too windy, perfect temps! I set out around the lake and up the prospect street hill in Wakefield toward Stoneham.  

When I run outside, I do not wear headphones or listen to music. I never have. I don't need it when I'm outside. I enjoy taking in my surroundings and finding my stride. It takes about 3-4 miles to set into my stride and really get into the run. After about 4 miles, you don't really think of what you're doing, per se, you just sorta do it. Some people ask me what I think about when i'm running. A lot of the time I'm thinking about where I am and where I am going. Making sure that I'm being careful (especially on busy roads and where there is limited sidewalks). I make sure that I am re-hydrating and re-fueling. This run, I did a much better job of both of those two! In order to keep up my energy levels and make it through these long runs, it is important to re-fuel and re-fuel at the right times. I alternated between water and gatorade and every couple of miles I ate energy beans. I also consumed a luna bar along my run.  Sometimes when I run I pray (which I did). I also give myself many pep talks!

Back to my route: from Stoneham, I ran to rt.28 into Reading and took a right onto Franklin St (just before the Home Goods) and back down Haverhill St. into Wakefield where I set up a bag with water (to re-fill my water bottles in my running belt) and more energy beans. Just down Main St. at mile 11, I met up with Tim. Tim ran with me all the way down Main St. into Greenwood and into the hills. Having friends run with me at different points along the route is wonderful. It's a break from my own thinking and gives me a chance to just talk and not really think about the run. And it was just the extra push I needed to get me up the Spring St. hill! At the top, he went right and I went left to continue on to Green St. and down to Albion St. in Wakefield.

So then comes mile 16 and Albion St. I'm pep talking to myself about how good I'm feeling! My energy levels are high, I'm at the end stretch, only 3 more miles to go, feeling good. And then, for the life of me, I don't even know how, I tripped and fell. And I mean, really fell! I landed on my hands (thank God), and my right knee scraped and dragged on the cement. I think I fell and fell with such force that I skidded forward. In all my running, this was the first time I ever took a tumble. Last week, I ran 17 miles in snow and ice and this week, on a beautiful dry day, I fell.  

This is wear my fear sets in. I have this fear of injuring myself. I had trained a few years ago for a half marathon and got a small tear in my calf during the training. I had even said (more than a few times) after that happened, that I wouldn't be doing long distance running any more. I felt that it wasn't worth the chance of getting injured.  I was happy with my short distance, 5K's & 10K's, why put myself at risk? Even after I decided to run Boston this year, my fear and self doubt at the beginning was so high, I almost called Colleen at the MYL Foundation to tell her I had made a mistake. But thankfully, my husband talked me off my panic bridge and gave me confidence boost that I needed. And just at the same time as I had fallen, he had texted me from his course asking how the run was going. I was able to get him on the phone and through my tears he calmed my fears and I finished my 18 miles fast & strong! My knee is cut up and bruised, but it will heal (and my cut up favorite lululemon pants can be replaced). 

Those 18 miles were completed through determination, friends helping me and cheerleading for me, as well as fundraising for me!  I am thrilled to have reached my $5,000 fundraising goal. Thank you all for your support in helping me achieve this lofty goal.  I can run happy knowing I have reached this milestone and feel even happier knowing my running has helped to raise funds for the Massachusetts Youth Leadership Foundation and its students. Even though I am at my goal, I still hope you will consider donating to the foundation in support of my run to help send more students through the MassSTAR Leadership conference.  

I ended my weekend with my family at Kings as for Ella's final birthday week celebration (yes I said week - in our household we have week long birthday celebrations) with family bowling. While I did not bowl very well (my excuse is my sore muscles and bruised knee), it was the perfect end to a beautiful weekend. Next weekend I will bring my mileage down to 10-12 as I get ready for my final long training run of 21 miles on March 26th. I'm looking forward to good week of teaching classes, cross training, and a "quick" run on Saturday. Thank you all again for your support and encouragement.  It means so much to have you all rooting for me. The big day is almost here and I can't wait to make you all proud!