I met a girl somewhere around mile 65 of Javelina, not a fellow competitor, crew or spectator. No, she was a version of myself that I have never ever met before. She was Devon 2.0. She was brave, she was confident, she had a steel-resolve and the heart of a lion. She was unafraid. It wasn't because of how I was performing that she came about, it was because she was there that this performance was possible. She was all the things I strive to be, she embodied all the mental hard work I have done throughout my life. She was an integration of the person I want to be. And I want to be that girl. I do not want her to retreat back into the recesses of my mind. I do not want her to shrink back and be dominated by uncertainty, lack of self-confidence, and fear. I don't want Devon 2.0 to be an optional self, an occasion self. I want to be that girl.
After the race, it was easy to be that version of myself. I was brimming with confidence, feeling that my performance was not "once in a lifetime" but instead, a turning point, a breakthrough. I felt I better understood myself and what it took to draw out my best. I for once in my life was able to give myself the credit I deserve for what I accomplished. I was happy and content. I felt capable, worthy and enough. I was also keenly aware that, although I knew the post-race glow would dissipate, I didn't want the self I had experienced during that race to disappear too. But how do I hold on?
It's been almost 6 weeks since Javelina. And I enjoyed my victory throughly. I enjoyed 5 weeks of unstructured training and running just to run (and running plenty!). But the time has worn away at me too. I have battled with 7 different health issues over the past three weeks. I have tried to establish a new sense of normalcy for myself now that I am not on the night baking shift. I've thrown most things up in the air and tried to make sense of them all. It has mentally and emotionally been a lot. And Devon 2.0 stopped being the strongest voice. I noticed as I have transitioned back into training and worked through all these things that my old default Devon mode has reasserted its dominance. I may exude to the world strength, bravery and confidence, but often the way I talk and treat myself is very unkind. I don't give myself the benefit of the doubt. I don't feel unafraid. I question my worthiness, loveability and if I am enough. My negative self-talk is not some new phenomenon, it is a demon I have battled for years that is deeply rooted in several issues that I have fought tooth and nail to face, resolve and heal from. But those habits stick.
I always hopped that I would do something that would finally once and for all change the narrative. I thought that if I could accomplish something so great it would be the tipping point for my brain to finally flip the switch to a positive stream of consciousness instead of a negative one. I make an excellent effort to CONSCIOUSLY be positive, forgiving with myself and strong, but I want that to be what I believe through and through on every level. Those last 40 miles of Javelina were absolutely thrilling for me. Not just because of how I was able to run, but more because in those miles I felt a way for myself that I don't know if I ever have. I deeply, genuinely embraced myself, loved myself, forgave myself and understood that I was worthy. It was a breakthrough in my own sense of self, one that years and years of self-work, therapy, reading and research has lead to.
I hoped, there in the dark, pushing myself, that the switch had been thrown magically. I realize now that that is unreasonable and unattainable. There is no switch. There is nothing I could ever accomplish that would magically tip the scales. Instead what I see now that is just like running, which takes constant and consistent effort, so does embracing and being the person that you want to be. Just like in running, where there is not a single one workout that will magically make the race easy and perfect, there is not one single moment or thought that will magically change who we are. It requires work. It requires effort. It require patience. It requires vigilance. It requires wading in.
Today I went out for a workout and the negative thoughts were strong. My workout was just work. But as I ran, I realized something. Devon 2.0 is not gone. She is a part of me. She is the light side of me, always there but often dominated by my dark side. And as I ran, I made room for her, I gave her space to have a voice. And suddenly, she was there to beat back the dark. The workout didn't really get any better, but in the end, I did the work and felt good about my effort. I fought, I gave myself credit, I showed up and said, "today this is enough, I am enough".
I see now that Javelina was a true breakthrough for me. Yes, because of the run I put together but more because of the version of myself that emerged and I have become. The dark and the light will always be a part of each of us, but now I see that I have a choice of which I let carry water. I don't want to be that girl I met that night; I am that girl: brave, strong, confident, enough.