I love the feeling that starts to stir in my stomach when there is a race right around the corner. Particularly a big race. Until today, I was beginning to wonder where my heightened levels of nerves and anticipation were, as I am only three days away from running the Portland Marathon. After a night of intense dreams, I finally awoke this morning with excitement and anxiety all coiled into a little pit in my stomach. Ah yes, there it is.
This will be my seventh marathon and I have high hopes of doing something truly spectacular on Sunday. Last year when I ran the Seattle Marathon, I had a long list of goals and expectations for myself that in hindsight were a little unreasonable. I was almost arrogant going into the race, feeling as though I was invincible and would easily meet and likely surpass my ambitions. The race ended up being a huge reality check and humbling experience. I started out too fast, too cocky, and completely fizzled out by the end. My hopes of qualifying for Boston slowly slipped away with each pound of the foot on pavement those last few miles. I missed my qualifying time by 5 minutes and still have a bitter taste in my mouth from how I chose to race that day.
I have learned a lot in the past year about patience, humility, and resiliency. Through trial and error, I have experienced disappointment in my performance at times when I felt the most confident, and have surprised myself at other times when I least expected it. I’ve learned that a big ego will inevitably explode in your face and completely demolish the mental game that racing tends to be. I am not a conceited person by any means, in fact I am quite the opposite, but there have been moments during racing where this personality trait wants to show up and make a statement. Most of the time I can shush it away. Most of the time.
It may be cliché, but I always set goals for myself before doing any kind of race. Goals are important. I know this because I study motivation and teach about it in an advanced context. To get better at anything or to make efforts worthwhile, one must have goals. Without goals, our motivation would cease to exist. So, like any other race, I do have a few concrete goals for racing in Portland on Sunday.
1) Keep that arrogant little voice in my head as far away as possible. I don’t want to race feeling entitled or overconfident. If I have worked hard enough and properly prepared both my mental and physical game, the training will speak for itself out on the course. I want to enjoy myself and feel all of my efforts this season come to fruition. Awesome reminder, Kara Goucher.
2) Qualify for Boston. This would not be my first time qualifying for Boston. I actually qualified in 2012 when I ran the Eugene Marathon. That race was a complete surprise as I finished with a 22 minute PR and an unplanned ticket to Boston. Unfortunately, because I never EVER expected to qualify, I hadn’t even thought about running in Boston or what that would entail. That was a busy year for me and I was in Cabo San Lucas when the registration for Boston was open. It wasn’t something I was ready to commit to and I passed up the opportunity knowing that someday I would hopefully get the chance again. This time, if I do qualify, there is no doubt that I will be making the trip to Boston.
3) Pace myself and remain patient. I have a really REALLY hard time starting a race without going out like a racehorse. Last year when I ran the Seattle Marathon I PRed in both my 5K and 10K times, but you just can’t do that in a marathon and expect to survive. My race was pretty much over when I reached the half marathon point. Darn gazelle-like tendencies. Marathons can be a challenge for someone with little patience (aka, ME). I think my mantra for this race will be patience. Patience. Patience. Patience.
“Patience, the gift of being able to see past the emotion” – Rodney Williams
4) Relax and enjoy. Sometimes I get so caught up in the actual numbers and expectations that I forget to breathe and enjoy the experience. I want to wander around the expo and meet other runners, chat with friends, share stories, enjoy a casual dinner, and take in the atmosphere of the city as myself and thousands of others are trekking along the open roads. This race is going to be different than others because it will be the first time in more than four years that my husband will not be with me before, during, and after the race, helping me and cheering me on. I am going with a friend who will be running her FIRST marathon, so we are making a girl’s weekend out of it. I can’t wait. I remember how intimidating and nerve-wracking my first marathon experience was, so hopefully I can keep my emotions under control and be there to support her.
Am I nervous? Heck ya.
But, nerves are fuel, and I need to fill up the tank.
Don’t mind if I do… 🙂
My friend Rainie and I will be heading to Portland on Saturday morning. I’m rather excited because I have several friends running on Sunday, a few of which are trying to BQ as well. I don’t run with music when I race, so knowing others and having someone there to encourage and push me will be advantageous.
If you want to track me on Sunday you can go to portlandmarathon.org and enter Bib number 2358. The race starts at 7am!