Today, I want to talk a little bit about celebrating small accomplishments. The type of accomplishments that maybe only mean something to you.
Last year, I joined the Hogwarts Running Club, a virtual running community that holds several races a year, each supporting a different partner charity. One aspect of these virtual races is that, in addition to receiving a completion medal, you also get a customized, downloadable race bib to wear while you run (or walk) your miles.
Of course, with virtual races, you’re often running solo unless your city plans a meetup for the race. When I first joined, I thought “there is no way I’ll ever be brave enough to wear a race bib while I run alone.”
While I’ve gotten (mostly) better at coping with my social anxiety (most days), there are certain things I have mentally tagged as impossible because I would feel too awkward. This year, I’m doing my best to break through some of the smaller ones. It’s a part of my ongoing quest to embrace being single and find joy without needing someone else to be there.
Enter this year’s Nargle 9K. I signed up, provided the info for my race bib, and printed it out even though I was still pretty sure I’d be too scared to wear it. The suggested race day was February 13th, in honor of Luna Lovegood’s birthday, yet I wasn’t sure I could channel her self-confidence enough to do this one seemingly small thing.
But as usual, the first couple weeks of February proved to be a particularly challenging time to be single. As cheesy as it is, Valentine’s Day always gets to me with constant reminders about couples existing in the world and the fact that I’m not in one of them. Here is some actual footage of me throughout the first two weeks of February, vacillating between two main emotions:
Considering the amount of time spent feeling alternatively irritated with all the couple talk and irrationally sad that I was single as a result of my own decision to stay that way, I figured February 13th was the perfect time to face a small fear.
I cut out my race bib, safety-pinned it to my shirt, put on mismatched purple and pink striped running socks, and headed out to run 5.6 miles.
People glanced at me as I ran by, and I did feel self-conscious, but I also knew they probably didn’t notice or care about my race bib. My internal monologue went something like this:
That person just looked at me. Do people always look at me when I’m running? Can they see my race bib, or am I running too fast? A 12 minute mile probably isn’t fast enough. If they saw it, could they read it? What if they did? Maybe they know what the HRC is? Or maybe they think I’m a huge nerd?
This was followed by a pep talk from myself:
Even if they do think I’m a nerd, who cares? I’m running a race and I deserve to wear my bib if I want to.
This cycle went on in between the usual thoughts about whether the running is hard or feels good at any given moment and questioning why I’d decided that running 5.6 miles on the busiest day of my week was a good idea. But as I paused at my halfway point to take a photo to prove to my roommate (and the world) that I’d run with my race bib on, I felt proud of myself. Not only was I wearing a race bib while running solo, I was also brave enough to stop and photograph myself doing this in a public park! Where people could see me taking a selfie.
It’s small and maybe a little bit silly to people who aren’t as self-conscious as I am, but when I got home with my race bib still affixed to my shirt, it seemed like an accomplishment for more than just running my furthest distance yet. Small steps like these remind me that there’s room for progress, that it’s possible to hear the doubts and fears inside our own heads but push through them and have a great time anyway–even if we’re alone.
So if you’re still listening, I’m curious. What small victories do you celebrate?