Sunday was a significant day for our country, as we looked back 10 years, mourned the fallen, and reflected on how far we've come since the terror attacks on NY and DC. As someone who was in DC on 9/11/01 and who still lives in the metro area, I certainly did my share of remembering, but my thoughts quickly jumped from 10 years ago to one year ago, when I ran my very first 5K race.
Last year, I shared a little about why I chose that particular race, but I didn't really follow up on those initial thoughts. I had attached some emotional goals to the event, but then got distracted when the race didn't go as planned.
Now, a year later, I have suddenly realized that the race was a turning point for me after all. Somehow 9/11 no longer has the hold on my psyche that it once did. I can honestly say I'm not afraid anymore. When I think back on that awful day and all the innocent victims, I still feel overwhelming sadness, but it's sadness I can handle. I know grief. Grief and I have become well-acquainted, and I'm learning how not to lose myself in that relationship. But the fear...the fear was once the most crippling effect of 9/11, at least for me. Inititally it was intense fear of another terror attack, but over the years it branched out into fear of all other threats of bodily harm, and fear of emotional harm as well, including but not limited to the fear of failure. And now it has released its chokehold on me, and I have run away, finally free.
I left fear on the street in front of the Pentagon last year, and unfortunately picked up disappointment and self-loathing in its place. Oddly enough, there is a positive side to that trade-off, in that my new negative buddies were by-products of a very positive journey. I hemmed and hawed and moaned and groused and read lots of encouraging advice from people wiser than myself. Then I told those naysaying voices in my head to kindly STFU while I laced up my shoes and hit the pavement once more.
Since then, I've completed a 5K without walking, AND a 10K without walking. I ran another 5K while battling morning sickness, and continued to run well into my pregnancy. I had looked failure in the eyes and discovered that it wasn't so scary after all. Coming back from a rotten first race experience taught me lessons I continue to draw from now, while getting back into running is proving difficult to achieve.
September 11, 2011 was a milestone anniversary for our country, but September 11, 2010 turned out to be a huge turning point in my life, even though it took me a year to realize it.
I will never forget 9/11.
I will continue to run, and I will not be afraid.