5 Nov

You would think that by taking a few days off from running or having an easy week I would  feel confident and relaxed about my upcoming race.  It actually has the opposite effect on me. Instead of a happy, relaxed week, I begin to second guess my training.  

I should have done more speed work.
I should have done an extra long run. 
I should have done more hill workouts to prepare for the hills along 5th Ave and in Central Park. 

These are the thoughts that invade my mind during my taper weeks (but most especially in the last few days prior to the race).  

When I head out on my slow, short runs, I feel every twitch, ache, or cramp and start worrying that I’m injured or that I’m going to feel that pain for the whole marathon.   Or, I feel winded and completely out of breath after running a few miles at an 9:00 pace.  

How do I expect to run a sub-7:45 pace for 26.2 miles?   

I despise when I make myself take time off.  If it’s something I choose to do – like after a hard race or if I’m just not feeling up to running one day, I enjoy the extra time it gives me and don’t stress about my physical aptitude.  But, when it’s something that I force myself to do, I find myself bored, restless, and worrying constantly rather than relaxing and enjoying the extra time.  

This marathon is no different.  In fact, the doubt is only magnified – for a few reasons.  

First, it’s my first marathon in almost 2 1/2 years.  I haven’t pushed myself hard for 26.2 miles in a long time.  I’ve done a few runs longer than the marathon distance to prepare for my ultra on Nov 19, but I wasn’t pushing myself – it was a steady pace for the whole run. 

Second, I’ve never stood at the start line looking to compete with other runners.  I’m a competitive person – I’ve competed every race I’ve ever run – but it’s been a competition with myself.  I’ve never set out looking to outrun anyone.  I’m usually aiming to run a specific time.  So it makes no difference to me if I am the 25th or the 250th female to cross the finish line.  All that matters is my finish time.  Sunday is different. I will stand at the start line with 4 other runners.  After running together for 13.1 miles, we will be “let loose” to race to the finish.  And at this point in the race, there will be no other runners on the road with us – so there’s nothing to take our minds off of who’s in the lead and how far behind – or ahead – we are to the other runners.  

Due to modern technology, my (almost) every move is going to be watched by a lot of people.  As I’ve said earlier, the last marathon I did was over 2 1/2 years ago – technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now so those that wanted to “follow” me didn’t get the opportunity to get MILE splits.  Knowing that friends and family are going to be analyzing my time and seeing how I’m doing at each mile during the marathon makes me extremely nervous.  

Lastly, the “race within the race” is going to be aired on national television during NBC’s coverage of the marathon on Sunday morning.  It’s not like we are going to have a camera crew driving alongside us like the elites do.  But, there will be some brief coverage of the competition and knowing that, just adds to the nervousness – and doubt – that has begun to sink in.  

At the end of the day, what matters most is that I have a safe and happy run – and that I’m satisfied with my run time for the second half.  But it’s hard to convince myself this as the hours until the race starts draws closer and the excitement, nervousness, and doubt only continue to increase.

Do you experience doubt before a big race?  How do you cope with it?

One Response to “Doubt”

  1. Nicole November 7, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    I am so proud of you for winning the Foot Locker Five Borough Challenge, Michele! What makes your win even more awesome is how humbly and graciously you accomplished it! I cannot wait to read your upcoming blogs about your experiences. šŸ™‚

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