Race-cations and Anxiety

Truth time: at both the Star Wars Light Side and Dark Side Challenge weekends, I had some anxiety issues.

At the Light Side races, I suffered a pretty nasty panic attack in the middle of Downtown Disney after finishing the 10K and hanging out with friends at the We Run Social meetup. I had to sit by a fountain and calm myself for 15 minutes before sitting down for dinner. I didn’t talk about it in my recaps because after it happened, I leveled off and the rest of the weekend went off without a hitch.

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I was still sniffling when I took this picture.

But then just last month, between the 10K and Dark Side Half marathon, I started feeling kind of burnt out and stretched thin. While I didn’t have a full on panic attack, things were a little bleak as I made it to the start line:

I remember filming this video as we walked to the start area, and as soon as I posted it I realized – oh no, that’s not my usually happy bubbly pre-race thing! I should delete it! But I knew it was important to share the truth, and it stayed up. And that’s why I’m writing today.

In the documentary about her and her mother that came out after their passing, Bright Lights, Carrie Fisher has a manic moment towards the end of the film and says:

“You know what would be so cool? To get to the end of my personality. And just like, lay in the sun…. I’m sick of myself.”

When I saw the film for the first time and heard Carrie say those words, I burst into tears: finally, someone had said it. At last, someone was able to put into words the feelings I’ve had for years about myself when I get anxious or depressed or have an episode. And of all people to do it, Carrie Fisher. Of course.

My anxiety levels tend to get higher when I travel, even if it’s a fun trip. And when I have a big race on the horizon,  my levels spike too. So a big race-cation is basically asking for trouble. Through trial and error I’ve learned that I need even more quiet time when this happens, and quiet time in Disney during a race weekend is hard to come by.

By the time I toed the start that morning, I was tired of running, tired of Disney, and tired of myself. Just like Carrie. But I managed to run my way through it – literally – and come out the other side, just like I have every other time. It’s painful, and it’s not easy, but there you have it.

Just like I always say when talking about these things, remember: this is only my personal experience. Whatever you’re going through, take it with a grain of salt. Not everyone goes through the same things, but I wanted to share for folks who might experience similar issues and show them that they’re not alone.

How about you: have you ever experienced anxiety while traveling or in the lead up to a big race? How do you cope? 

8 thoughts on “Race-cations and Anxiety

  1. I battle with anxiety almost daily, but I find that running and yoga make for excellent “therapy” for me. That being said, I understand that travel and race anxiety that is coupled with so many people being around. It can be very challenging. Thank you for sharing your story and that powerful quote by Carrie Fisher. That one certainly hit home. Best things to do is find your “therapy”, take deep breaths, and have compassion for yourself in those moments. ❤

  2. Great post Jess. Thank you for sharing your story and for being so real. I don’t travel very much for races anymore, but I definitely am no stranger to the overwhelmed/burnt out feeling! I have definitely been there. Remember, it’s ok to just kick up your feet, relax and just do you! I’m always here for you! “coco” 😘

  3. Beautiful post, Jess. I will surely pass it on to people, who reach out to me (mostly in private!) with issues about mental health, asking: how to cope & will it ever end?

    This year, I had intense episodes of anxiety & panic attacks. My depression cycles happen, ironically, when I rest! I learned the same: be compassionate to yourself and simply take time to do what needs to be done to get back to feeling whole, again.

    “….I’m sick of myself.” …wow, I often said this when I go through yet another episode. I know, I should’nt. Thanks for sharing Carrie Fisher’s quote. Hope to find the documentary online. I’ve been meaning to read her books to feel empowered. Ever since I learned she was bipolar, I felt more courageous in sharing my own story publicly.

    You know, the first time I read your blog via TMC, I had the exact same feeling. Empowered.

    I often write, as much as I curse mental health issues, I feel “blessed” to get connected with people, I admire & who are making a difference in spite of dealing or having dealth with anxiety, panic attacks & depression.

    We can let these issues isolate or share our story, & get connected to create a strong network, which spreads hope & inspiration.

    Thanks for choosing the latter. You are my hero, sole/soulsister! XO

    • thank you so much for your kind words, sweetheart!! Its conversations like ours that make me take a moment and be grateful for what the online fitness community has brought to my life: much more than just faceless strangers on the internet, that’s for sure! When things get tough, it’s too easy to fall into that isolation and shut out the world, but I’m so glad that I dared to open up and connected with you! ❤

  4. Thank you for your honesty…it started to happen to me about 2 weeks ago before coming to Martha’s Vineyard for my first half marathon, but I was anxious about a problem that I was having with my middle toe. Wondering if it would prevent me to run the race at all!
    I tried not to be negative about it, but I felt like so much was riding on completing this race and that if I didn’t do well I would feel like I failed somehow.
    I also put pressure on myself by thinking that the race won’t even live up to my expectations, but gladly that’s never been the case.
    In times like those I find a place to lay down or sit, close my eyes and literally tell myself to let it go, (give it away so to speak), and give myself permission to let it go. It works every time!!! Do try!! ❤️🙏🏼

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