So...did I run the race? To put it simply, no. No, I did not run the Shamrock Shuffle this year, even though I was registered. I broke my own tradition of running the Shamrock Shuffle every year and my own rule about always running the races I sign up for as long as I am not sick or injured (and even then I sometimes run).
To be honest, I don't really feel that bad about it.
By the time I got home from work on Saturday night, I was starting to feel better about the idea of racing on Sunday. I was even starting to get a little excited for the race. Before going to bed that evening, I packed my gear check bag and laid out my special Shamrock Shuffle gear - Shamrock Shuffle neck gaiter, green sparkly visor and skirt, four leaf clover compression socks, etc.
When my alarm went Sunday morning, however, I was no longer excited. I got up, had breakfast, got dressed, and made my way to the train. I felt like I was on autopilot. Then, sitting on the train on my way downtown, the panic set in.
I just couldn't do it.
I couldn't deal with the crowds or the noise. I fet the tears coming on. I tried to catch my breath. I was on the verge of a panic attack. I had signed up for a race that I've run and enjoyed before, so what was the problem? It was only an 8k. It wasn't like I was on my way to a marathon. Why couldn't I pull myself together?
I got off the train and transferred to one heading back towards home. Once home, I changed out of my running clothes and went back to bed. My cat, Hannah, snuggled up next to me, and I fell asleep.
I woke up a few hours later feeling infinitely better. I felt refreshed. I expected to be disappointed in myself, but I surprisingly felt fine. There was no resentment towards those I know who ran. There was no feeling of remorse for having missed another race.
I still can't quite pinpoint what caused my panic, but I know that skipping the race was the right thing for me to do. There will be other races to run.
Right now I find solace in the knowledge that I can still find joy in running. Even if it comes less often than it once did, that feeling is still something that is worth chasing.