{What I Love} no18: the 811s
{What I Love} no20: present in THIS moment.

{What I Love} no19: not feeling The Love

I woke up this morning after dreaming about Ragnar all night. Not just dreaming about it, but talking and moaning quite a bit, too, according to Kendell. (Just to recap: Ragnar is a relay race, which you run with a team of 12 people; each team member has three different legs.) I told Becky last summer, after we finished our first one together, that of course I'd run Ragnar again with her. And then I didn't think much about it, because I don't tend to get anxious about races.

But this morning, after all my dreaming, I'm anxious about this race. My first leg in particular, which is 7.2 miles long—all uphill. The ascent is 1743 feet total, but there are some downhill stretches, too. As soon as I could wake up and get on the computer, I started trying to find places around here where I could do training runs that would compare. And not much does. Even though I live by the mountains, I live in a valley. To run consistent steepness I must run in the mountains, which does make me anxious. I mean—I love to do it. But I get nervous, thinking about the possibility of Bad Guys Chasing Me Down.

And maybe it was just the fact that I didn't sleep well, and I have this horrendous sore throat and headache. Maybe it's because my friend's very-good news yesterday cracked open some old scars for me. Maybe it was that I spent an hour at Jake's junior high this morning, and junior highs tend to reawaken those old, unpleasant memories. But the I-can't-run-this-race panic has completely overflowed into full-out I'm-a-pathetic-loser darkness. My brain starts clicking out lists of all my failures, like how if I had a friend who was also a runner I could run those mountain roads with her and not be afraid. Something sparks the cascade and then it's just all downhill from there, and this morning the spark was the race and it sent me spiraling.

It is so easy to be overwhelmed with that combination of fear, loneliness, ineptitude, failure, and self-disgust. Which is an odd thing to write about in an "I Love This" sort of blog post. But, this is me, and I always knew this sort of post was coming, even without the particulars. I always fail at cheery optimism. It's just not my natural state, which is why I try harder to be cheerily optimistic. Sometimes the pessimissm knocks me over. I don't love feeling this way. I don't love how that darkness is always sitting just behind my shoulder, waiting to pounce. And how weak I am once it does.

But I also know this: it does pounce. Maybe it pounces upon everyone now and then. And I know, once the darkness goes away, it will reveal a little bit of light, a way to do what right now seems impossible. I know that the fear will goad me to do things I don't believe I can. And while I don't love this process, I know I need it, and so I value it, if only for what I can learn from it.


Melanie Bell

I'm thankful that you're so honest in your posts. Because I sometimes wonder if anyone else goes through the self-loathing that I do. Of course I know I'm not the only one, but doesn't it seem like everyone else has a reasonable amount of self-confidence? And I do too, sometimes. But I totally get that spiraling down feeling. So thanks for making me feel like I'm not so alone. :)


Boy, your words were scary-familiar to me. Eerily so. I spiraled today too, but not with the same trigger ... you'll never catch me running a mile, let alone running a Ragnar (BUT I admire from afar ...) The darkness does indeed pounce, and often. I appreciated your final words however - I've never considered my own demons to be something I needed; just something I have to live with. You've given me something to think about - thank you!


Oh, I am sorry!! You are totally going to rock that leg. We should meet up and do some mountain climbs together - my hill leg isn't as long as yours but I will still need the training. I am so sad we aren't sharing the hill again this year. I know you can do it though.

I am thinking of you!!


I get it. And I appreciate it. I’m a lover and fan of opposition. Not the experiencing of it, but the knowledge of it. It’s those lows that make the cheery days brighter. I’m also thankful I don’t stay in the lows because they hurt.

You are real and wonderful. I hope you feel the love again soon.

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