True personal story. When I was in 5th grade, I found sheer joy running hurdles in track and field. Hurdles came to me naturally by combining the leaping grace from ballet and the sheer power of gymnastics, two sports I did since basically birth. The gym teacher watched me and could see I was unaware of my talent so she took extra time to encourage and coach me. On the 6th graders’ Field Day, she had me run in the hurdle races against those big, scary, older kids. I won. She then signed me up to run at a 7th and 8th grade track meet, being held at the local high school. I was excited to have my eldest sister drive me and off we went in our family’s white, all metal, no seat-belts, station wagon…Ol’ Betsy the Tank. As we walked closer to the track, the hurdles grew and grew and grew. They were not grade school size but high school size which appeared almost double in height over anything I had ever jumped. As I walked to the start line to do a warm-up, I looked down a long row of what appeared to be solid brick walls that felt almost as tall as me.
It’s times like this experience, you have several options. First option, claim stomach problems and run to the bathroom where you hide until the race is over. Second option, let the fear psych you out. You don’t believe in yourself, so you half-heartedly run the race and crash into every hurdle. You limp away with bruised shins and ego…and never try again. Third option, tell that negative-nelly-voice in your head to go back to the station wagon. Then with an ounce of courage, just start running. Remembering the hard work during the hours you committed to training, you trust your body will take you where the mind can’t believe. Like most of my life, I did the last option. In a storage box in my garage, I still have the first place, blue ribbons from that day.