Had a recent insight on fear.

I coached Damian Reid in 2015 to his first half marathon in 6 years and am coaching him in 2016 for his first marathon ever.

He shopped the marathon circuit, showed me a few options, I made recommendations, and he landed on Cape Town, South Africa (Sept 2016).

A few days later…

Screenshot 2016-06-12 19.58.25

I get cold feet about all kinds of things in life.

But the worst kind of cold feet I can get is other people’s cold-feet fear.

<<Damian gave me full permission to share these details. Thanks, brah.>>

I believe Damian was initially acting responsibly and giving this gentleman the benefit of the doubt.

He’s from Africa … specifically Botswana which looks to have more adjacent border mileage with South Africa than any other country.

He’s run three marathons … that’s 3 more than Damian and most people you meet.

He’s the champion of a squash club in a major metropolitan area … obviously still a committed and accomplished athlete.

Unless Damian really wanted to pull out his phone to check the course elevation during this quick, post-match conversation, I’m sure the thing for him to do was nod and say, “Thank you, I’ll take that in consideration and speak with my coach.”

I’m glad he did basically that.

Damian recapped the info. He suggested we may go to Plan B. He trusted me. By so doing, Damian put his faith in himself and in me as his coach ahead of any fear triggered by Mr Botswana. That shows great strength on his part.

People can be totally wrong. And this guy was.

Having an appointed supporter and champion to be there for me in life’s challenges has been a super awesome practice, and once I have those people clear on the roles they embrace for me, then they ARE the person I go to when I hit moments of doubt, darkness, fear or spiraling questions.

When people spew doubts, their fear, and more questions in response to mine, I get more darkness … and now I’m 2x in the dark, or even worse, because I have mine AND theirs. Bad recipe for any situation where I care about moving forward.

Doubters don’t belong in my corner. Who does? People whose faith surpasses fear.

People committed to helping me (and you) through moments of doubt, fear and seemingly unanswered questions are better suited to shine light and direct me to my own light switches so I can see clearly.

As a coach, my athletes count on me to make solid recommendations and not knowingly let them walk into high-failure, low-learning situations. Living + training at sea level, then running a first marathon at elevation counts as one of those. (Post for another time: great coaches do on occasion run their athletes/clients thru inevitable-failure, high-learning situations.)

My athletes, clients, friends and anyone I know, myself included, will experience fear. What I aim to do is support them to recognize their own faith. And, when invited, help them move smartly, faithfully and powerfully toward their faith, even in the face of whatever fear is there.

I felt confident I hadn’t overlooked the geographical challenges of the Cape Town Marathon for Damian, and I thought I’d show him what goes into those evaluations so in the future he can make them on his own.

Here’s what I found:

Screenshot 2016-06-12 20.20.56

I Googled “cape town marathon site:strava.com” and found exactly what I was looking for:

unfounded fears of cape town marathon elevation

(gray, left axis = elevation; blue, right axis = pace of the Strava user who recorded this. Bless the internet and smart phones. And Google. And GPS. And Strava.)

What follows is how my texts went down as I shared this image and more with Damian.

Damian, it’s between 0-200′ above sea level … the whole time!

The entire elevation gain is 721′

The Salt Lake Marathon, while at moderate elevation, has a total gain of 789′

Berlin has 366′

New York City has 454′

Boston has 572′

721′ is nothing crazy

And most importantly … 

In your half marathon you climbed 935′ … you got this 😊

(1,870′ over the course of a full marathon is challenging for a road race and specific training for such is smart)

I imagine will be stunning to run all the way around Table Mountain … without ever going up it (shaded green = mountains):

Fear of Cape Town marathon - route on elevation map

The hardest parts will be miles 16 and 17:

Fear of Cape Town Marathon - the hardest miles

Highest elevation gain in a mile … 145′ … and then the steepest drop in the next mile … 131′ down.

Going up that late in the race will burn your hamstrings …

… and coming down will be an extra load on your quads.

And then you’ll hit mile 18 … that proverbial wall!

Which is also fairly uphill looking at rest of course … 92′ up.

Those 3 miles will be a HUGE mental game and discipline to execute whatever plan we make ahead of time.

So excited for you!!!

Man! Love digging into this race info and thinking about strategy for ya!!!

When you take a look at all this … will you let me know how you feel?

Damian’s a champion. He got it:

Fear of Cape Town Marathon - got it

Back on track. Fear put to rest.

I have no idea how many years ago Squash Club Champion ran his marathons. And I really don’t think he meant ill will. I don’t think he was consciously aware of fear or wanting to incite fear in Damian. I genuinely think he thought he was being helpful … most people do when they give advice … and, to the extent that now Damian and I have thoroughly looked at the elevation profile of Cape Town 2016, he was helpful.

Perhaps it was an innocent slip of memory. Perhaps one of the three marathons he ran is somewhere else in South Africa or around Cape Town and is at elevation. Or maybe years ago the same Cape Town marathon Damian selected had a route at elevation.

Whatever the case, none of that matters because the only relevant items are the facts about Damian’s race and Damian’s preparation for those realities.

So it is in all aspects of life.

I experience so much “advice,” even when given with the best intentions, that, when unrobed from the cloaks of “wisdom” and “concern” for my well-being, amounts to a presentation or attempted transfer of the giver’s unresolved fear and insecurities. And guess what? Their fear and insecurities are theirs. Not mine. And 99% of the time the fear isn’t grounded in reality.

So …

Thanks. But if I see or smell fear, I’ll hand your a ticket for a seat in the stands.

When I’m in the ring — and when, ever, are any of us not? — ya gotta have faith for a spot in my corner.

RIP Muhammad Ali

January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016

A man who lived word and deed entirely in faith ahead of fear.

Fear of Cape Town Marathon - Muhammad Ali