Sunday, February 15, 2015

Typing Out Loud: Bang, Bang I Am the Warrior

In my continuing saga with the River Bank Run, I submitted an application, three times I may add, to be a Road Warrior in the 5 and 10K divisions for the annual race.

Road Warriors represent the race at community events and trainings, as well as blog about the experience. Right up my alley.

First thing was the application. My first application was crafted carefully, an epic tome meant to make readers laugh, cry, be inspired and thus be nominated for the first-ever Pulitzer for online applications. So when I hit send... I got the dreaded 404 error.

Second application was an edited version of the first, emphasis on inspiration, a "chicken soup for the runner's soul" that was so heavy on syrup, I hesitated hitting the submit button. Another 404 error.

I gave it a few days and submitted a dashed off third try. I was borderline smart-alecky, inserted some trademark humor, and when I hit submitted and got the "accepted" page, I mentally ticked the "do something brave today" box, pretty certain I was not the type of runner they wanted or needed for their program.

Until I got the "congratulations!" letter from officials while I was eating supermarket sushi in a hotel room while off to judge a figure skating competition.

I was very surprised and immediately bashful. Me? No really, me? Before any reader think this is false modesty, you have to know how I think. And it isn't pretty. I probably have the worst case of conflicted self image in the history of self images. Immediately upon reading the news, the vicious, cynical side of me woke from her sleeping slumber and unleashed a series of worst-case, ego destroying wicked vile that made me toss and turn most of the night.

Ever had your own brain tell you such things as "you're a loser"? How about "you're not a real runner"? Or even the litany of put downs such as "you think you're so special" and "you think you're all that" or "attention whore."


The first ring of the circus was the community vote. You were given the link to publicize your intention to be a warrior. I skipped Twitter and Instagram, and opted to get the word out on Facebook. I composed my post at Starbucks and sent it out into the world. It got liked, shared, reposted, etc. Friends rallied to cheer me on. There were also a few notable exceptions to the support, which send my negative Nancy on a rampage.

I didn't win the community vote.

The next phase was the personal interview, conducted at Gazelle Sports. I was funny. I was gracious. I got arms and limbs involved in telling stories, swooping in for effect. They loved me. But it all came down to I think one key question: "what are you not looking forward to in this process?"

I wanted this, but I also wanted to be honest. Skating is a huge part of my life, and working at the hospital, I work odd shifts that don't always work with someone's 9-to-5. I reviewed the listing of events I was required to attend and worried out loud I wouldn't be able to make any of the Wednesday trainings, and most of the Saturday runs. For the first time, there was a wrinkle on the brows of the women conducting the interview. Game face still on, I was pretty sure I was sunk.

Less than 48 hours later, my fears were confirmed when I got a "thanks but no" email from the committee. As an added bonus, I also got a rejection letter from a place I had applied to for a writing position.

Negative Nancy had a field day on me on my way to work. The way I figured, NN had somehow found her way out of my brain and managed to have not one but two entities vocalize what I had been thinking all along. You're nothing special. You're a loser. They're all laughing at you.

I took another day to reflect, and give myself perspective. After running for only 4 years, I managed to hang with the best the Grand Rapids running community had to offer. Even before when I thought I had a chance, I was worried about the time commitment, knowing full well that work, family and skating took precedent. I represented myself well and conjured up some confidence I didn't know I had.

I posted today a thank you to everyone who supported me, and to tell them I wasn't chosen. I rewrote it carefully as I intentionally omitted negative words like "loser" from my phrasing.

I'm still doing the run, and as a reward for my efforts, I was given yet another free entry to the race. So I got a prize after all.

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