I flew to Philadelphia last Friday for the Rehoboth Beach Half Marathon on the coast of Delaware. The flat, fast, late-autumn race felt like the perfect way to break back into racing after my five-month absence fueled by book deadlines, TED talks and sibling weddings, plus an untimely ankle sprain on Halloween night.
I’m injured again.
The human body is a beautiful, capable, complex machine. Sometimes, it can also be fickle. I figure that’s why I can run a half marathon blindfolded without getting hurt, as I did four years ago this month, yet roll my ankle reaching for a shirt in my closet, like I did last week.
Some days are so unforgettable, so moving, that we live them over and over again, immersed in the moment, for the rest of our lives.
Yesterday was one of those days.
On Friday, October 13, 2017, I accomplished something I’d never dreamed I could do until this year: I delivered a TED talk. After all, public speaking terrified me for most of my life. I hated the spotlight, more content scribbling sketches and stories with a No. 2 pencil in my treehouse than giving a class presentation or speaking up in a group. In fact, the soccer field was the only place I really felt comfortable using my voice, and even that confidence didn’t come till halfway through high school.
Six weeks before Montana’s Missoula Half Marathon, I set a goal to run a sub-1:40 race in this, my 18th of 50 states. And over the next month-and-a-half, I trained to run 13.1 miles a whopping five minutes faster than my personal record (1:44) for the distance.
Almost all of the stars aligned for success. I put in the miles and blood and sweat on streets and trails and gym floors. And when the sun rose in Big Sky Country early on the morning of July 9, I thought I was ready.
Today is Global Running Day. And in about four weeks, I’ll run my 20th half marathon in Missoula, Montana, where I’ll aim to break 1:40 for the first time.
I’ve only run sub-1:45 three times while battling injuries for the past seven years. But the Missoula Half Marathon is a flat, fast course, and I might be in the best shape of my life. When I entered my first 13.1-mile race on a cold December day in 2009, I could outrun almost anyone on a soccer field, but I didn’t know the first thing about training or pacing. And when I crossed the finish line in Charlotte at the 2:37 mark, I was gasping for air.
If you’re afraid of speaking in public, you’re not alone. In fact, Forbes contributor Nick Morgan says a whopping 10 percent of people enjoy public speaking. For the rest of us, talking in front of others induces hair-raising fear or butterflies or lost sleep or a general feeling that we’d rather be anywhere else.