Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Adventures of Captain Awesome, Part I (Or, Shakes On A Plane)

I'm so excited, I'm practically trembling in my seat. After nearly a year of planning, it's happening. My teammates and I are meeting in Miami and running the 200 mile Ragnar Relay to Key West.

As I type this, I am on a plane from Houston to Ft Lauderdale. Today's travel day actually feels a bit like a Ragnar. My first leg was San Diego to Houston, and that started forty minutes late. My second leg is from Houston to Ft Lauderdale, and that started nearly an hour late. And my third leg will be the shuttle/cab/bus from the airport terminal to my hotel for the night. Hopefully, the last part of this journey will be simple, on time, and without further incident.

It's all a bit surreal at this point. I know that I am flying to Florida, running a relay race, and being filmed for our documentary (FatToFinish.com). But it is only beginning to sink in. This is not just "sometime in the future." It's this week.

Over the last few days, all of us on the team have kicked our Facebook team chat into high gear. We've been planning our team outfits, packing lists, and more logistics than I could ever have imagined.

And along with the expected excitement and nerves, I've had a bit of a surprise.

Fear.

Yep. Hard to believe, isn't it? But it's true. I'm not afraid of the race itself, since this is my fourth relay race. Back to back miles, running through the darkness, and a sleepless night? No worries at all. So what am I afraid of?

I worry that I'll somehow let my team down. I should be in better shape, perhaps. I'm making a documentary about people moving from being fat to being in shape, and I still feel like I have so far to go. I worry that my outgoing personality will come across as overbearing in person. I fear that my sense of humor will fall flat and I won't feel connected to my teammates. I am afraid that I will be out-of-sync with the other people in my van and none of us will enjoy my company.

It's crazy talk. Seriously. I know that. But old wounds are painful and scars run deep. There was a time in my life when I felt like the odd man out, and there is always the worry that I will feel that way again. What if everything I want from and for this team just doesn't happen?

I wonder sometimes, how long will these insecurities continue to surface? Because the reasonable and rational voice in my head knows that I could not find a safer, more accepting, more caring, and more amazing group of people than this team. Each of us has walked a journey that was at times painful and lonely. No one knows better than these eleven people the negative self-talk that is filling my head.

If there is any real difference in my life now compared to years ago, it's that the worry and fear that used to haunt me no longer has the power to cripple me. I still play those old tapes in my head, but I don't fall into total darkness. I am not my own worst enemy, anymore.

Over the last two and a half years, I've learned that feeling afraid is not the same thing as acting afraid. Instead of giving in, I dig deeper. I remind myself that being fearless just means being willing to take action in the face of fear. And this week, my action is to fly to Florida, engage on every level with my amazing teammates, and do the best that I can each time I run.

Am I at my goal weight? No, I'm not. Am I as fast a runner as I want to be? No, I'm not. Am I a role model for perfection in eating and exercising? No, I'm not.

But I am very happy with the weight I have lost. I'm proud of my transformation from couch potato to multi-marathoner. And I am a real person dealing with the pressures and demands of day-to-day living. Sometimes I am great, other times I am just hanging on. But I'm always determined to be the best me I can be.

My teammates nicknamed me Captain Awesome. And I'm going to earn that title every step of the way.

Watch me.