facing fears

Happy New Year!

As a perfect way to end the year, my local parkrun was hosting both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day events which gave me the chance to break the cycle of eating and drinking that generally takes up the festive season!

At today’s New Year’s parkrun, I volunteered for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed the chance to meet people and celebrate their post-run happiness as I scanned their barcodes. I’m not always the most sociable person in the world so this was quite a big deal for me but it’s definitely something I’ll do again. Running at parkrun is good but volunteering gives you a new perspective on the whole thing, especially seeing how similar all runners are, regardless of their times.

At the Christmas Day parkrun, I faced up to another fear that I’ve had lingering for quite a long time – the fear of coming last. Ever since entering my first fun run (very tentatively), I’ve been paranoid about being the last over the finish line. I meticulously check results from earlier events to see how long the last finisher normally takes and I don’t enter if I don’t think I can get in a bit quicker than that. I stress about cutoff times and worry that I’ll be out on the course alone when everyone else is done. On Christmas Day, it happened. And I didn’t spontaneously combust. In fact, it wasn’t actually bad at all. At about the halfway point, I realised that I was going to be last and, other than the twinge of realisation, wasn’t worried in the slightest.

When I did finish, I apologised to the volunteers on barcode scanning for making them wait, particularly on Christmas day. They were so lovely and didn’t mind in the slightest, reminding me that I’d done more than most people that morning who were still in bed or tucking into sumptuous breakfasts. However fast and wherever you come in the list, we’re all still runners and get the same buzz at the finish.

So, whether out of 70 runners or 7000, I won’t be scared of finishing last again. Having faced that fear, I can confidently say that it’s more important to celebrate the finish than to mourn my final placing. The key is to remember that I’m only competing against myself.

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