“Yes,” he said, “absolutely.”
One of the secrets of self doubt is that outside encouragement can obliterate it. That’s why I asked. And then I asked someone else. And then again. In total, I probably asked that question a dozen times. In the end, I made it.
Running is a solitary exercise without teammates to pass to, coaches to lean on, or goals to score. There are no external timers or whistles to maintain the game’s pace. Some runners talk about endorphins propelling their movements but I’m pretty sure mine don’t work. I don’t get high from running, I get cranky. I tell myself I can’t do it. I believe I can’t.
But I CAN do it. I HAVE done it.
Sometimes I repeat those words as a running mantra, saying them over and over in my head. Sometimes it works. Sometimes show tunes help, and passerbys are lucky enough to hear a capella versions of Avenue Q songs. (You’re welcome.)
But not today. Today I took off my headphones and while I ran past, asked the folks on the benches if they thought I could make 10 more minutes.
“Yup,” said the guy with the sunglasses.
The pretty ladies with the yoga gear gave me a thumbs up and a “You go girl!” I felt silly but I kept asking.
I asked until I repeated the loop, forcing myself to run past my cheerleaders again. Four more minutes, I said, showing four on my fingers. Two more minutes.
It’s amazing how energy grows, spread by smiles and kind words. I surprised myself today, not by running for 30 minutes, but by adding another tool to the anxiety busting belt I’ve been building. “Do you think I can make it 10 more minutes” felt awkward, but abandoning my run with only ten minutes left would have felt like defeat, and defeat isn’t a skill I’m working on.