Wouldn’t it be nice…if I were no longer scared?

Here’s what I wanted to write on my blog tonight:  I have found my inner confidence.  I have dug down deep since last Monday night, contemplated all the things I have achieved, overcome, faced down, and now I’m no longer scared of the North Face 50km race that happens in four days time in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney.

Not quite.

I will say I have tried.  Ok.  I haven’t.  I haven’t even been able to try.  This is one of the scariest things I have ever done, and I feel a bit rabbit-in-the-headlights-ish, to tell the truth.  Like it is too scary to even really contemplate.

Sure, I’ve been studying the maps and exploring blogs that go into detail about the trails we’ll travel.  I watched the North Face 100 DVD that has sat on my bookshelf for a month (I kept meaning to watch it over dinner at night, but it made me feel sick to my stomach each time I thought about it, so I watched it after school drop-off last Tuesday morning – the first time I have ever watched TV in the day!  And watching it was a good and bad idea – good that some of the trails didn’t look too hard; bad that some of the people looked like they might die, but thankfuly, didn’t).  I’ve tried on and put away the new Salomon backpack I panic-ordered last week (great idea, to consider using a new pack on race day – glad I came to my senses quickly on that one!).  I’ve done all the last-minute checks (salt tablets in abundance, lots of gels, sunscreen, BodyGlide, etc).  I’ve even bought two portable DVD players to entertain my non-travelling kids in the car for the ten-hour drive to the Blue Mountains (I’m sure I’ll be ready to run screaming into the woods after that drive!).  I bought new jeans today to put in my after-race bag, assuming I’ll need one, because my only other pair has the knee fully torn-out from a face-plant on the playground at my kids’ school when I was running too fast for my own good.  So I am truly ultra-organised (I didn’t even mean that as a play on words).

But I am also ultra-terrified!  This was the tipping point – the Facebook post from the North Face race organisers page, warning runners not to train on the course early this week because the powers-that-be were planning to SET FIRE TO THE WOODS in the areas where the race will be held.  Okay, here in Australia, we call it a “planned burn” and I’m sure it won’t even be smouldering by the time we drive up, but really?

(The actual post from the Facebook Page: Alert from National Parks: For any 100km runners planning a run on course from now until at least Monday, you won’t be able to do Leg 2 as there are hazard reduction burns occurring in the Wild Dogs (the area directly to your left as you run between Medlow Gap and Dunphy’s Camp). The Medlow Gap firetrail is closed for at least the next 3 days and will be reopened once the area is safe again.

For updates on track closures check the National Parks website or contact the NPWS Heritage Centre, phone 02 4787 8877 (open seven days 9.00am to 4.30pm).)

In full panic mode, I downloaded the New South Wales Fire App to my iPhone, and have been studying the little icon that says, “planned burn alight, under control”.  I’m waiting for it to say, “it is now out”.  Oh, and then I read the Emergency Instructions again about how there is really no mobile phone service down in the valleys we will be running in – gulp. So I won’t be able to check my FireApp to see where the fire is?

Today, the race organisers posted a picture of the Blue Mountains on their Facebook Page in a get-us-all-excited moment, and I swear there was a plume of smoke in that picture.

Photo: Cracking morning in the Bluies, course setting well under way. Track looking good, 5 days to go!

The actual picture from the North Face Page – see, doesn’t it look smoky?

Can I type any faster to tell you all how cowardly and scaredy-cat I feel right now?  When I took my maps to OfficeWorks to get them laminated (I know, overkill) I was too nervous to wait in the long non-moving line for service, and bought contact paper like you use for kids projects, and laminated the thing at home.  Of course, my husband walked through the house during the lamination, and my hand shook, and I didn’t get it perfect, and I nearly, very nearly, shouted at him, like a crazy, mad fish-wife (“Why did you have to walk by just then?  Don’t you know I’m doing something critical to my survival and now I’ve just messed it up and your children will have no Mom and I’ll freeze to death lost in the woods because of this stupid crease that obscures OBSCURES the trail name???).  Or some such thing.  I believe it is to my great credit that I said nothing, and put the map away.

So, no, I don’t have a non-panicked self to share with you tonight.

All I can say is that fear has not stopped me ever before, and this monster certainly won’t stop me this time.  I’ll keep having the stupid dream where I’ve forgotten to pack my gear until five minutes before the race, and the other one where the tidal wave is coming but no one notices but me (“Ah, hey guys, do you see that wave?”).  I know, there is no ocean near the Blue Mountains, but I was raised by the Atlantic, and I see waves when stressed.

In a few days time, I will front up to the start line of the North Face 50km race in the Blue Mountains.  I will face down this demon-fear again.  Until then, please bear with me.  Bear?  No, there are no bears here in Australia.  Don’t get me started on the other venomous creatures though…

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