Monday, August 15, 2011

Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy

Sometimes it’s a tough lesson to learn and follow, but the truth is: we are only as good as we think we are.

  • Think you can’t complete a race in a certain time even though you’ve put in specific training to do so? Then you probably can’t.
  • Think you aren’t cut out to do the 26.2 marathon distance despite 16 weeks of tough workouts? Then you probably aren’t.
  • Think you’re not a good enough runner, mother, friend, wife even though you give all that you can? Then you’re probably not.
  • Think you’ll never heal from that injury? Then maybe you won’t.

The thing is, we tell ourselves things and we believe what we tell ourselves even if it’s bullshit. What if we switched it up this way?

  • I know I can do this race in the time I trained for.
  • I know I can run 26.2 miles because I’m going to trust my training.
  • I know I am a good enough runner, mother, friend and wife because I do my best at all times and give back to those around me.
  • I know this injury is temporary and my body will heal because I treat myself well and do what I need to do.

Confidence is everything and it can affect all outcomes.

I was reminded of this lesson the other day when I read an essay by Bill Cosby called, “Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy.” I read this right after my 70.3 race and it was spot on. Even though I did better in that race than I could have imagined, I was never behind myself leading up to race day. In my mind, I put myself down - You have not done enough. Who do you think you are competing in a race of this distance? You are not cut out for this.

In the essay,  Bill writes about being an up and coming comedian in the 60s, at the start of his career. He was asked to perform at the pinnacle club in New York City, Kelly’s. He never thought he’d be on that caliber of a stage. The night of his performance, he sat in his dressing room, waiting to go on stage. His nerves got the best of him and he psyched himself out. “You are not funny,” he told himself. “You don’t deserve to be here.”

The irony of it was that he had been invited to come for a reason. Because he had proven himself to be a hilarious and successful comic that could make people laugh. But, in that moment of vulnerability and anxiety, he told himself otherwise. And, he believed himself.

Bill went on stage and no one laughed. Not once. He choked. Afterwards the owner told him, “When you get back to your hotel will you tell Bill Cosby to come back her and do the second show and to never again send you, because sir, you are not funny. Bill Cosby is very, very funny.”

Against all odds, Bill had been invited back. He returned for the second show with guns blazing, ready to do what he did best. He got behind himself and knew he deserved to be there. The audience roared with laughter and begged for more.

So, what happened? Both performances were made by the same man with the same jokes. But one man believed he could do it and one man didn’t. The outcome is disastrous for the non-believer and exceptional for the believer.

Don’t get me wrong. You still have to train to get results. You can’t just sit on the couch eating potato chips and WILL yourself to run a marathon. But if you have put in your time, don’t second guess. Get behind yourself and your mental strength will add to your physical strength.

You see, it’s true what Henry Ford said, “Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.”

So, stop your questioning. Quiet your insecurities. You deserve to be at the start line of that race. You are a runner. You have put in your time. You create your outcome. Make it a good one.

What are you questioning about yourself today that makes you your own worst enemy?

SUAR

75 comments:

  1. I am questioning whether or not there is another roll of toilet paper in the house…because this bathroom is OUT!

    Naw…you just went and got all semi-serious and caught me by surprise…

    I love Bill Cosby and think of him often as I live this life of many kids and try to maintain a sense of humor. I love that he never swears. Today I am questioning a lot of things…i think I'm hitting all the biggies…am I a good enough mom and wife? Will my weird training sched be enough to not only survive but enjoy Hood to Coast? Will I survive that half marathon in Oct? Do I really still have a marathon in me? Am I someone my husband wants to come home to after 11 days at a french naturist camp? Will I ever make something of myself?

    Lots of questions…you really opened a can o' worms, sistah.

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  2. I have so little confidence when it comes to running. I"m not trying to do marathons or ultras, just 5Ks and 10Ks with the occasional thought at a half marathon. But everytime I run, whether 3 miles or 6, whether a race or just around the neighborhood, I find myself walking some. I'm not in pain or short of breath when I stop running and I don't know why I do it......it drives me crazy!

    Great post---I know I can, I know I can. I can, right?!!

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  3. Brenda Jo: of course you can. Remember last January when all I could do was run for 1 minute at a time and three months later I ran the Boston Marathon?? Marathons might not be your thing, but stick with your running and your goals and you can do amazing things. And there is nothing wrong with walking.

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  4. oh beth, amazing words indeed. Bill Cosby is a huge role model. great inspiration!

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  5. I DO remember your comeback.......and was totally inspired by it (I was in a running hiatus at the time and your stories got me back out there) and will try to think of it when I head out this week. Thanks!

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  6. Training for my first Ragnar in 4 days! Taking on 18 miles over 36 hours...quite a lot for a novice runner on the course for just barely one year. But I'm confident that I'll complete it.....just hope I enjoy it at the same time!

    Am worried bc my training was less than I hoped....I set up a too rigorous training schedule and fell apart mentally for a while. Bit I'm feeling good now, and ready to kick this in the butt!

    It's about completion, not perfection.

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  7. Wow.....this came at a good time for me! Start my "official" half marathon training in 2 weeks - for my FIRST half. Until I hit the "enter" key on that registration, I had done nothing more than a 5k....I'm scared, but trying not to be my own worst enemy! THANK YOU for this post!

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  8. Cheryl - I felt the exact same way about my first marathon. Don't psyche yourself out. You can do it.

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  9. Good luck Cheryl---you are braver than me. I am still researching my first half (do I want to go somewhere or find one locally?,.....).

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  10. Great post Beth. Almost all of us need to remember this once in awhile. Some of us more then others, as I know I feel like an athlete imposter most of the time. :)

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  11. This is awesome. Freaking love it. Looking for that essay now.

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  12. The timing of this post couldn't be more perfect. I'm 9 weeks away from my first marathon attempt and I've been questioning myself daily if I can do it. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

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  13. LOVE THIS!! I am telling myself I am so ready to run a 3:30 marathon in 18 days. :) Thanks for this!

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  14. Thank you, Beth. I am training for my first Ironman and I really really needed this. The closer it gets, the more I doubt myself. Gotta change the attitude!

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  15. your post couldn't have come at a better moment...last year i was training for a marathon and got injured on my second really long run...well, guess what is coming up this weekend? my second really long run...and i'm psyching myself out completely. every twinge of my foot makes me worried that i won't/can't get myself to the start line and that my body is about to break down any second.

    thank you for this awesome, awesome post.

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  16. Beth - great post - I have really been telling myself that I am capable of running a 1/2 marathon on Saturday. I have had piriformis and hamstring issues most of July and August and it hurt to run . . . so I increased my biking and figured cross training would only HELP. I ran the last few weeks, but didn't want to overdue it. I had a great 8 mile run last Saturday and felt that I really could go further, but figured I didn't need to prove to myself that I could do it - I knew I could do it! I truly believe that a positive attitude will get me through the 13 miles. Thanks - I CAN do this!

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  17. I feel this way at work sometimes. Although I love writing and my boss has told me that she thinks I am a good writer, I psyche myself out when she asks me to write something. You'd think I'd be excited but instead I am apprehensive out of fear that I'll write something terrible and she'll see that she was wrong about me.

    Why would I do this to myself?! It's so silly.

    I also doubted myself and all of my training before the Surf City Marathon. I thought that I wouldn't even be able to cover the distance. I thought I would be lucky to make it under 4 hours. And guess what! I ran it in 3:35! Clearly, I was prepared but I just didn't trust myself.

    We are so hard on ourselves. I loved this post because I need to be reminded of this often.

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  18. Love the post- I nearly convinced myself out of a 20 mile run tonight because I doubted myself. Luckily, i got out the door and had a great run. Even after 12 marathons I battle with the self-doubt, what an annoying and persistent pest. Just wanted to say thanks for touching on something that I'm sure so many of us fight against daily.

    Also, kick ass job on the tri!! You ate legit hard core!!

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  19. Man, I needed this today. I'm training for my first half, which is in 11 days. I've done the training but I am doubting myself. Can I do the distance? Can I do it in the time goal I set? Am a really a runner or am I just faking it?

    I have done the training.
    I will be Awesome!
    I. Am. A. Runner.

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  20. You are so right. Thank you for the reminder.

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  21. What a great post. I am definitely my own worst enemy.
    I trained all winter for my first 50 mile race when I became injured and had to bail. I've taken a lot of time off to recover but building up my mileage again is difficult. I doubt myself. I doubt whether I can do another marathon much less an ultra. I am definitely in a running funk and need to figure out how to get out of it.

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  22. Great post! Thank you for sharing this, I'm off to find that essay and read it now!

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  23. Thank for this Beth! Today was the first day of a great new job for me and I believed in myself and it went great. Next stop...a full marathon or at least another half that has a decent time. :) OH, and screw that blogger who knocked your writing skills....your writing inspires me! :)

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  24. Thanks so much for sharing this. I am primarily a cyclist and have been in a training funk, and due to lack of training I am not as strong as I used to be so I second guess everything. I just need to stop being so hard on myself and take the time to "get back into it", it will come back.

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  25. I needed to read this tonight, as I prepare for my first Oly. Thank you.

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  26. Thank you for this post. I am an "older" runner training for my second marathon (and coming back from an injury). Thank you for making me see that I can get to the starting line!

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  27. Thank you very much for the post.. but could you also put in a twitter handle where the viewer can click on it to twit it up? many thanks! ( p.s i dont know how to do it)

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  28. Where the mind leads, the body follows. It's up to us where it takes us. We must never forget that.

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  29. Anon - it did post through Twitter when I first put it up. I can try to do again.

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  30. Great points Beth. I'm always cautious of this as I know at this stage the most important part of my training is keeping my confidence up. Needed to read this, this morning! I'm going to bookmark it even:)

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  31. I am ABSOLUTELY my worst enemy! I sometimes wonder if I sabotage myself because inside I feel I don't deserve success.

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  32. Just stomp all over my toes!!! DAG!!!

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  33. I fractured my ankle in July and question getting back to my walking/running abilities. I am "aqua- jogging " now and riding my bike and walking slowly 2 miles.... at 58 it seems like such a huge set back.

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  34. I just finished an interesting book called Stillpower, where the author's premise was that we tend to give negative (and positive) thoughts too much credibility, and that on their own they're basically powerless.

    Example - if you're experiencing feelings of nervousness, but you've put in the training for a race, chances are good that you'll be successful regardless of your thoughts.

    Alternatively, if you're feeling confident, but haven't trained for a marathon and try to run one, chances are you won't succeed - again, the thoughts on their own are powerless.

    I heart sports psychology.

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  35. I am definitely my worst enemy. Thanks for this post.

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  36. What are you questioning about yourself today that makes you your own worst enemy?

    Well, I *was* questioning my ability to re-work my training after needing 2 weeks off for an injury.

    Now I've decided not to undermine my work. I'll use all the practice I've had to decide how much is enough and how much is too much, and I'll make it to the start line.

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  37. This post definitely requires one of my favorite poems:

    THE VICTOR by C.W. Longenecker

    If you think you are beaten, you are.
    If you think you dare not, you don’t
    If you like to win but think you can’t,
    It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

    If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost.
    For out in the world we find
    Success begins with a fellow’s will.
    It’s all in the state of mind.

    If you think you are outclassed, you are.
    You’ve got to think high to rise.
    You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
    You can ever win the prize.

    Life’s battles don’t always go
    To the stronger or faster man.
    But sooner or later, the man who wins
    Is the man who thinks he can.

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  38. That is a great story and analogy...there have definitely been times that I've been my own worst enemy. Beating myself up quite a bit right now since my training is not going as planned and I catch myself saying "this marathon is going to suck." With that attitude, it sure is!!

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  39. this is a great post! thank you so much for sharing. i often find myself questioning my training, and my ability as a runner and this is a good reminder that i need to tell myself that, in the words of Emz - "I've freaking got this"!!!

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  40. Great post. I so want to do another marathon. I had a running partner on the first one. If I do another one I it will probably have to be solo. I keep questioning myself, can I really do a marathon solo. I know how tough those las 4 miles can b. Thanks Beth.

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  41. Penny - I do most of my training and racing solo. You can do it!! It requires you to dig a bit deeper, but you've got that in you.

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  42. Great post and wished it was there for my 5K race (first one in a long time). I had LOTS of anxieties leading up to the race and it took a while before I calmed my nerves. I did much better than I thought (alot better since my goal was just to not die). I did the race in 38 minutes, which was great for me. But I know I can do better. Now, I have confidence in me again and I'm ready for the 10K in a month.

    It's so very true. Tell yourself you will be awesome and by God, you will be awesome like me!

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  43. I have always been called conceded, cocky, narcisstic (sp?) but I have always believed in myself. I have always thought that I am good enough and that can be bad as well because when things don't turn out the way you want you question the others and not yourself.

    This mindset has not changed as I have gotten older b/c there is nothing I can't do, but what has changed is that I take responsibility for my failure now and work my ass of to make myself better.

    There is no magic pill to make me faster and stronger. There is no magic pill to make me a better husband and step-father. There is no magic pill to make me a better friend or son.

    It's all work. Hard.Damn.Work and I love every minute of it because I love getting better and showing the world that I can and I want to carry that over to other people who question themselves and beat themselves up into I can't.

    I don't accept it. I can sometimes be hard on my 5 year old because I don't accept I CAN'T. That is not a word we use in this house. We find ways to get it done, and while not always perfect it got done. I want him to know that he can do anything he puts his mind to.

    I can, I will and so it shall be done.

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  44. Just what i needed to hear. I'm training for my 1st 1/2 marathon in October, new to running (about 10 months)and i feel like i'm not improving on my time and just started questioning if i can do this. I am a very strong willed person and if i can keep my mind in check i can and will do this.
    Perfect timing....thanks

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  45. Thank you for posting this! I needed the reminder today :)

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  46. I got chills reading this. Thank you.

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  47. Couldn't agree more! In my 1/2 marathon Sunday, I went out much faster than I usually do. At mile 2, I remember thinking, "I don't belong here" (in this pace). Then I quickly reminded myself that "Maybe I do belong here"...

    It truly does work to challenge that negative voice. I got my first AG win because of it :)

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  48. I have been questioning why I am trying so hard when I keep putting on weight. But then I realized that I was slacking on the running because I am discouraged, and I need to keep in mind that I quit smoking over 2 months ago (after smoking for 18 years). I am doing all right.

    I didn't start running because I wanted to lose weight. I started running becuase it feels like flying. Screw worrying about it. Just go.

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  49. This is so timely and so perfect for me right now! With only 3months of training left until IMAZ I am constantly asking myself if I can do it, am I doing enough. I need to trust in myself, in my ability, and in my training! I need to chance the questions to affirmations! I CAN DO IT and I WILL DO IT!! :)

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  50. Thank you for posting this. It brought tears to my eyes. I'm getting ready to run my first half marathon after 14 weeks of training, and I STILL go out for five mile easy runs and wonder if I can get through them. Thank you for reminding me how ridiculous I was being and to enjoy the journey because I am, and we are ALL, winners!

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  51. Thanks. I needed this today. My first marathon is in 4.5 weeks and I have knee pain--overuse, I think. Panic was setting in. [deep breath] I can do this.

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  52. I needed to hear this as well!! I am 12 weeks away from doing the NYC marathon. This is my first big race without my husband or a friend to run with and I am struggling with it. But i have to change my thought procees for sure! This is my 3rd marathon but I want this one to be my fastest. That's the other part I struggle with is competing against myself! I mentally shut down at the race and tell myself i can't beat my time and then I will start walking and beat myself up. I am going to change my thinking and make NYC my best race ever!! Thanks!! You're a true inspiration.

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  53. Thanks for your post today. It was just the kick in the running shorts I needed!

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  54. I love reading your blog.. Your hilarious, entertaining and you give great advice!! This blog was definitely what I needed!! I've been torturing myself about my running lately and just haven't been feeling as pumped about this upcoming marathon as I was for the first and this was a great thing for me!!! THANK YOU!! :-)

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  55. I needed that kick in the pants. Thank you!

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  56. Wow, yeah I can see that. I'm having trouble convincing myself that I can run a 4:30 marathon. That's basically a 10mm if you count in water/fueling walks - a 10mm used to be fast for me, now it's easy, but for 26 miles? I'm scared!

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  57. Did you write that just for ME today? How'd you know I needed it? thanks!

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  58. Great post on an important piece of the training, racing and LIFE pie!

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  59. AMEN, SISTER!

    Sometimes, you just need to give birth to than inner drill sergeant baby and yell at yourself.

    And sprinkle in a couple of f-bombs. These affirmations are no joke!

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  60. wow, this is exactly what I needed to hear today...brought tears to my eyes...thank you

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  61. Inspiring article - thank you! I do the same thing. When I put myself down, I try to remember to give myself 2 "put-ups". So I counter one negative thought with two positive thoughts! It really does help!

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  62. I enjoyed reading this so much a forward it to a girlfriend that is trying to start up training again too soon after a 100KM walk race and a friend that is about to take on the Transrockies. 120 mile run/hike/drag/cry your way to the end kind of race

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  63. Just what I needed to hear today. I really needed this today! I'm a newish runner. Just started running in February, walking actually, and working my way up to a half marathon in November. I have been battling an injury and it's taking it's toll mentally. I keep running, not quite as much as my training program has scheduled, but I'm running. It is such a mental game I have to play to get my running shoes on! Today is speed day, 5 miles. It's going to be tough, but I'll be out there!

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  64. How true.
    I would love to open up a bakery, and I need to start thinking positive thoughts (and doing something about it). Instead I come up with excuses of why it wouldn't work. I am only holding myself back from living my dream, and that's sad.

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  65. Thank you again for another great post. Whether you are writing something so funny that the tears are rolling 'cause I am laughing so hard, or a post like today's where you make us remember that yes, we can do it, you are truly inspiring.

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  66. so true!! and it's great to remind ourselves of this again and again because it's way too easy to fall into the 'i can't do that' trap.

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  67. SUAR, I think I love you and I'm not even gay. That last paragraph is one to live by. So easy to tell ourselves we stink. Let's make it easy to say we got this, we own it!

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  68. so wonderfully true, what a great story to share. I actually needed to hear this before I go in to talk with my bosses next week so thanks!

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  69. Love H. Ford's quote and so true.]

    Athletes too often "replay" the bad performances instead of the good. A critical group we are! Why don't we reinforce the positives more?!

    So glad I follow your tata's ;)

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  70. Great post and words I so needed to read today! I just registered for the Philly half in part because I really want to do this race and in part because I know I got in my own way during my last half. Nerves got the better of me and it took me half the race to shake it off. I know I can do better - I'll remember this post as I train. Thanks Beth!

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