Tomorrow is a big day. Tomorrow I lace up with two of my friends and we run, no, RACE the Athens, Ohio marathon. I will admit, I am nervous, but appropriately so. It would be odd for me not to be even though I have gotten many well wishes and comments of "You are ready!" "You will crush this!" "Don't worry!", (ha ha… that one is my favorite :). Honestly, my very favorite comment was from Suttan, who I ran with on Thursday morning. We were discussing the weather, which has decided to be very warm (80 degrees). Keep in mind I have mostly trained in freezing and sub freezing temps and there is a phenomenon known as acclimatization. No, it won't be 80 by the 8 am start, but it will most certainly be 70 or so by the almost noon finish.
Anyway, as I voiced my concerns over the temps, sweet Erin tried to dismiss my worries, while Suttan said, "I would be worried too. I would not like that." Now while most people would have looked at her like "How could you say that to this head case??", I so appreciated her validating my concerns and making not feel crazy to be worried because yes, temperatures CAN and DO affect performance. Do I really think they will? No. I think I will do well. But I loved, LOVED that she said that to me. She was still very positive and encouraging. So thanks, Suttan :)
Of course I am nervous. I have toed the line in a quest for a BQ in many races past. I have felt very ready at some of those races. The same thing will happen tomorrow. I will start the race, confident I can get the goal. I am planning a slightly different strategy, however, and I have the utmost wonderful pacer and race partners to run with. My running friend, Greg, will also be running. He is as strong and ready as they come and I cannot wait to race with these two. Sarah will be pacing us. She will also be wearing my Garmin. So I will have no clue what pace I am running throughout the race. She has strict instructions to pace easily in the beginning…. in fact, I hope our first splits reflect a slightly slower time than what I need. The course runs along the river in Athens and is out and back. We run down river on the way back and my hope is to take it easy in the first half and run a nice negative split. I run best that way in training, especially during long runs. So we are mixing thing up and hopefully, we come in right where we want. Keeping my head in check will be the biggest challenge. All the "snap out of it!" advice is not helpful in the least. I am who I am. Yes I have an element of control over which thoughts I choose to let linger in my head, but I also cannot "trick" myself. I'm smarter than that :)
And so, as always, I turn to God, who lovingly whispers, "I got it. Don't worry." I have absolutely no qualms about praying for my race. I don't think it's selfish or unimportant to ask for help with something that is important to me. God LOVES when we rely on Him for everything. I know that if it does not counter His will for me or if there is not, yet again, some lesson to be taken from failure, all will be well. I know this. I also know that if I can't trust God with the little things in my life (and trust me, add perspective in and this is little), then I will never be able to trust Him with the big stuff. So go ahead, pray for your races. Pray for strength, pray for endurance, pray for mental fortitude. God is thrilled when you do and He always shows up! Because spirituality and running are so intertwined with me, I think that the day I am racing is eerily relevant. Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. The gospel will reflect the betrayal and handing over of Jesus to be beaten and ultimately crucified. Certainly reflecting on the significance of tomorrow's gospel will make a difference for me in how I choose to run.
I'm still nervous, though :)
All nerves aside, I have had a great taper. I am well rested and carbed up, though my body is a bit off kilter from all the carbs. I have slept in most days this week… yesterday until 6:30!!! That is huge for me. I must not be THAT nervous if I'm sleeping well. I got to have lunch with my parents yesterday, which was awesome. It isn't too often I get to just sit with them and chat about all sorts of things. Last weekend, they were the main crew (along with my 12 year old nephew) for my brother Jack's 150 mile ultra marathon (sigh). My dad told me the story of how at one point, he and my mom trekked up a muddy, steep hill en route to an aid station. It was around midnight and they had only a small flash light to guide their way. All these runners were going by with high tech head lamps and flashlights. Here they were, climbing with one flash light. When they reached the aid station, the workers and runners all clapped and cheered as they thought my parents were DOING THE RACE! I thought that was hilarious. My parents are 77 and 76. And honestly, the energy it takes to crew an ultra is immense. Here they were, having a blast doing it. My dad describes the scene as a "happy asylum". I got a kick out of that description because he is so right. You have the craziest people on earth who are so kind, encouraging and polite. They are also in the throws of physical misery and exhaustion WHILE being kind, encouraging and polite. It really is no mystery to me why so many are beginning to discover the world of ultra running. The atmosphere at the races is just awesome.
I love that I have these two people as an example of who I want to be like when I get older. My mother was still having babies in her 40s and many years after the youngest is gone, married and mothering her own children, they are off crewing a grueling and difficult race on little sleep. Their description of the experience showed nothing but pure joy and pride for their son, who completed the race. I was very lucky to be born to these people.
Prayers for Greg, Sarah and me greatly appreciated!