My running buddy Anne and I signed up to do a 5K together on Sunday, Oct. 4. We’d be running together for a few months and had a really good run together the Friday before the race — four miles in the rain in about 40 minutes. We both had high hopes for the race.

I was pretty confident before the race, even though I’d worked until midnight the night before and had left my house around 8 a.m.! We had a potluck at work, so I’d eaten pretty poorly, too. Still, those four carefree miles were in the back of my mind, and I knew I could do it.

I wasn’t paying attention when the gun went off, but we were off and running. It was not even a tenth of a mile in that I hit a huge mental wall.

“I can’t do this!” I kept saying to Anne. “I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.”

I was sort of panicked, because I couldn’t understand why my body just didn’t want to go. There were a few slight slopes, and I literally made mountains out of molehills, freaking out about each and every one. Eventually, Anne abandoned me and my negativity (I don’t blame her — I held her back!) and I broke down and walked part of the race.

Obviously, the lack of sleep and unhealthy eats were big contributors to my poor perfomance, but I made it 110 percent worse by psyching myself out. I just kept saying “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t” and you know what? I couldn’t.

I finished in 33:32. It was only about 40 seconds behind my first race and I actually finished fourth in my age group (which tells you just how slow everyone was — maybe everyone had an off day? 😉 ), but the experience was very different. I psyched myself out, and it was a terrible day.  This race proved to me just how much of running really is mental. Stay positive!

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