Today’s my 30th birthday. The big 3-0.

Why, how old did you think I was?

Honestly I can’t wait to celebrate. I’m heading out the door right now for my annual birthday run along the Seven Sisters (this will be my second year … that’s annual, right?), and tonight I’m going out to dinner and drinks with my boo. To top all that off, in a few days, friends are coming from all over to party. It’ll be a birthday to remember.

Beyond just the celebration, though, this birthday feels different. As cliche as it may sound, I really feel like I’m breaking in to a new chapter in life. Yuck, I feel gross just saying that.

Think about it. I’m no longer in the decade when …

… I graduated college.

… I lived in a group house, or drank crappy cheap beer, because that’s all I could afford.

… I applied for my first real job, got rejected from that job, and after a few months of living at home, finally landed another.

When I entered my 20s, I didn’t run, I wasn’t vegan (or vegetarian), I hadn’t met my wife, and I barely had enough discipline to write a term paper, let alone a regular blog. All things that have now shaped my career and life in ways I couldn’t have fathomed just a few years ago.

As much fun as the past decade has been (and it’s been fun, trust me…), it wasn’t always pretty. It feels good to leave it behind, and let go of a few things in the process.

Calling a Wolf a Wolf

See, for much of my 20s, I made mistakes, hid behind insecurities, and resisted change because I was scared of the unknown. Every inch of progress and growth was dampened at least in part by fear.

Here are a few examples:

  • There are dozens of unpublished posts written for this blog that I’ve been too afraid to release (for fear of the wrath of the interwebs).
  • I stuck with a job I knew wasn’t making me happy, because I was too afraid to leave.
  • I didn’t register for races, because I was afraid of failing and embarrassing myself in the process.

Can you relate?

Yet for some reason, this birthday feels different. The song is set to a new tune, and I’m in charge.

I’ve grown confident enough with who I’ve become to start owning my choices. To let the anxieties fade, and suppress the insecurities. To go after change, instead of hide from it, and to challenge myself instead of timidly resting deep within my comfort zone.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from the past 30 years, it’s that fear solves nothing.

It’s designed to act as a protective barrier, but instead causes anxiety, keeps us up all night, and holds us back … only to become a non-issue later down the road.

I’ve seen it in myself whenever I set a big goal, and I see it in others when they say they want to run a marathon or ultramarathon, then never actually start training. We fear:

  • failure,
  • getting hurt, and
  • the unknown.

There’s a German proverb that says,

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.

For many of us, the wolf is the risk of failure, a missed time goal, letting ourselves or others down, or embarrassment. But the wolf is only as dangerous as we let it become.

I want my next decade to be full of conquering the wolf, not building it up. I want to challenge myself with outrageous running goals, and to be the man and husband that I’ll be proud of when I turn 40. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy — I’m positive it won’t be — but I want to stop fear before it stops me.

This birthday feels different. And it’s liberating.

But here’s the thing … there’s nothing special about turning 30. That liberation can take place anytime you let it.

Maybe today’s the day we all start a new chapter?

Announcement: The Ultarunner’s Race Week Blueprint is now available!

Speaking of fear (eh, that’s a rough transition), last week I wrote a post about common race week mistakes. Mistakes that will cost you time, energy, and maybe even your race. I’ll admit, that post was a setup for a project I’ve been working on for the past month called the Ultrarunner’s Race Week Blueprint, and it went on sale yesterday.

The Blueprint is a step-by-step guide for the final days before your goal race. A guide that if followed, will eliminate the risk of those common last minute mistakes, and show you exactly how to properly prepare.

Click here to learn more about the Race Week Blueprint.

Also, up until yesterday, I was going back and forth about the price. I know this type of guide is incredibly valuable when it comes to not screwing up your training, but charging too much didn’t feel right.

So, since it’s my birthday, and all I want to do is celebrate, I’ve decided to offer the guide as a “pay what you want” product. That’s something I’ve never done before.

You can pay as little as $1, or as much as you’d like. It’s my birthday, you can pay what you want to (see what I did there?).

Learn more about the Race Week Blueprint here.

Author Doug Hay is the founder of Rock Creek Runner, host of the Trail Talk podcast, and fanatical about everything trail running -- beards, plaid shirts, bruised toenails, and all. He and his wife live and run in beautiful Black Mountain, NC.

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