Saturday I had a moment of true panic and total loss of control. On March 18th, 2011, I attempted my first century ride, it was a small ride and I was by myself out in the country. During the ride I was chased aggressively by a white pit bull, I had never been so scared in my life. In all my life with a bad car accident, a bad motorcycle accident, 2 tours in Iraq, and all the other life hazards we all experience, I had never had the feeling I was about to lose my life like I did that day. For half a mile my Garmin was reading 27 MPH and this thing was snapping at my ankle, it got so close. It took half a mile for this dog to give up, and since that day training hasn't been the same. I didn't finish the century ride, I stopped at the next rest stop, which was a church, and called Joel still shaking and crying, telling him I couldn't go on. Ever since then, I will only train at places where there are no homes. In addition to that, I will only do races where there is a large enough field for me to feel safe, or in a location where I know there are no homes. This is why I have yet to sign up for a non M-Dot half iron or iron, the number of competitors an M-Dot race brings feels like a safety blanket to me.
Since March 2011, I have had flashbacks and nightmares about pit bulls. The flashbacks make my heart pound, the nightmares thrust me awake with terror. I went from simply not liking them to being terrified by them. Just typing this I am shaking. My dachshund Rosco was attacked by a neighborhood pit bull in November 2009, which is why I can't train in my neighborhood, since the owner does not believe in a leash and the police won't do anything. After this happened I was angry, but did not experience these feeling.
Saturday Joel and I signed up to be volunteers at a 5k in Savannah. We were looking forward to volunteering and giving back. Shortly after arriving at 6 a.m. I saw it sitting in a pickup truck, a white pit bull. Just setting eyes on it sitting in the truck, my heart started pounding, hard. The owner was a volunteer, he moved his truck closer since he had equipment in the back. Suddenly my breathing became labored and I was losing control of my body. Joel looked at me really concerned, I was shaking, breathing strangely, and on the verge of tears. He led me away from the area and took me back to the car where I just held him and sobbed into his shoulder. I just cried and cried, shaking, all my control was gone. This was a full-blown panic attack. Suddenly Joel unlocked the car and told me to get in, the white pit bull was out of the truck and running around off a leash.
Joel told the race director we had to leave. Since the race director was an acquaintance of ours I told Joel he could tell him the situation. He was very understanding and told Joel to take care of me. I was really upset and I felt like I let people down. There is no way I could have functioned with that dog running around. I felt paralyzed with fear and panic. When Joel got back to the car he handed me my Powerade and I was struggling to drink, me throat felt closed, it felt like swallowing a large dry pill.
Experiencing this on Saturday, I am reflecting on my fears. The problem is, when I think about pit bulls I immediately stop because my heart starts pounding and I am overcome with fear and anxiety once again. I go back to March 18th, 2011 and feel like I am about to lose my life again, never to see my girls or my Joel ever again. I feel powerless, and at a total loss of control over myself. I have tried to describe it the best I can in this blog entry, but I can't truly find the words to describe the feeling of a panic attack of this magnitude.
It has been very difficult to write this, and many of you now probably think I am a loser for feeling this way. These are my personal thoughts and feeling, and this is what prevents me from venturing out to find new training locations. This is what prevents me from running or riding my bike on residential streets and country roads. I really hate feeling this way, but at the moment is it something I have no control over.