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Where I present the calm before a race

by John on September 18th, 2014

So, my original plan was to blog every day this week. I had two vlogs in my head . . . and they’re still there. I’ll share them, eventually — but, obviously, I have not posted every day this week. But, do keep your eyes out for some fun posts in the near future.

Many years ago, I attempted my first metric century — 100km on my bicycle. I had completed a 25k ride on several occasions, always feeling that I had a “lot” in my tank at the end of each ride, so the jump to 100k, well, that would just be four of those rides – it would be difficult, but it wouldn’t kill me. I did a little riding as training & thought I was good.

I was wrong.

The night before the ride, I ended up heading to a party, drinking a few beers, considering it “carb loading” for the big event the next day. I had a nervous excitement that night before – kind of like a kid on Christmas.

The ride nearly killed me. I made it to the end, but that was, mostly, because I didn’t realize that the guy asking “are you ok?” from the vehicle would have driven me back if I had asked him. I was out of shape, I had under prepared, I had entered the ride with too much confidence (I still remembering choosing to power up an early hill in a high gear, rather than shifting to a lower gear . . . if it were the last hill of the ride, that’d have been perfectly acceptable, if I still had the leg strength to do so, but it was just stupid in the early goings), my gear was far from sufficient.

The next year, I rode the 100km again. But, this time, I had trained. I rode hills. I logged miles. I had a plan.

The night before the ride, again, I went to a party, but I had a solitary beer. I remember just, kind-of sitting around taking everything in. That I was confident doesn’t seem right here, though I believe the definition of the word holds true – I was confident that I was going to ride, and ride strong, and finish, and finish happily. While before I was over-confident, this time I was certain. I was the kid who didn’t have to stay up all night cramming for an exam because he knew everything that might be on tomorrow’s test.

I felt like Neo, after he figured out that he was the chosen one – there was still shit to do, but it was just a matter of getting it done, there was no question about whether or not I’d actually accomplish everything. The conclusion was foregone.

I’ve felt this way on very few occasions in my life, where “today” was something to get through before “tomorrow’s success,” where the entire world seems to just slow down.

I’m starting to feel this way for this Sunday’s run.

A half-marathon is a distance that I’ve always just felt that I could “pull out of my ass.” I mean, I’ve run 26.2 four times, so far . . . but, honestly, I’ve never felt good or confident at the end of a full marathon. But, at the end of 13.1, I’ve felt that I’ve “given the course all I could give” while also “not feeling like absolute birdshit,” which, if you’re not an endurance athlete, well, I don’t know how to describe how those aren’t mutually exclusive, but, trust me, they aren’t.

But, even though the distance isn’t worrisome, it’s seldom that I head into the event feeling good. In the back of my mind, fear usually lingers.

Last weekend, these doubts started to work their way to the forefront of my mind — I hadn’t been running. Despite working out regularly, I hadn’t asked my body to do anything “active” for more than 40-45 minutes at a time . . . nevermind the better part of two hours that a half-marathon will take. So, with a few hours to kill on Monday, between work & symphony rehearsal, I set out to run. I went to a hilly 5k loop that I know well, and I ran it 5 times.

Since then, time seems to be slowing down.

I’m running on Sunday. I know I’ll finish, and finish well. It’s just a matter of filling out the details right now.

  1. I feel the exact same way about the half distance though I’ve done plenty to sabotage myself. I’m signed up for a full in a few weeks and I’m not ready at all. I might as well go to a party the night before and do keg stands. At least I’d have an excuse.

    Have a great race Sunday.

    • Sunday was a blast – but I really don’t like the “big crowd” races.

      I have a hard time believing that your anywhere near as “far away” as you need to be for the full.

  2. When I ran my first (and last before injury) half marathon, I was SO afraid that since I was spending the night at the resort where the race was held and rooming with 2 other (exuberant) women, I wouldn’t get my quiet, “I’m an introvert” time. It turned out to be a good thing though, because staying up and talking kept me from stressing about the race the next morning.

    Good luck Sunday! I will be at a casino. 😉

    • How was the casino? I’m hoping we both did well with our luck on Sunday 🙂

      What I love most about this comment, though, is the “last before injury” caveat — as it sounds like it’s just a matter of time before you’re back to running half marathons 🙂

  3. Dude.

    Seems like taking a step back (literally) gave you the rest you needed to crush this half.

    Hope you’re still flying high.

    • I am – actually, perhaps, a bit higher right now, because I’m still riding the high while the body isn’t quite as sore as it was yesterday 🙂

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