Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Standing on the starting line, we're all cowards

Tomorrow, if I am feeling productive after my half-marathon and gorging myself at Thanksgiving dinner, I will be posting a RR.  It's been too long since I did one of those.  And I really don't have a good reason why.  Perhaps I'll change my mind after tomorrow, but I'm not sure why I waiver so much between racing and running just for the heck of it.

In the past year, I've run 13.1 or longer 15 times.  That means that I'm running a half or longer every three weeks.  So I'm not sure why I have doubts about race day.  I guess because other people are watching.  There is always a fear of not living up to your own expectations or the terrible possibility of a DNF.  When I run by myself, I only fear letting myself down.  Sometimes that can be just as ominous as we all tend to beat ourselves up the most. 

But I take solace in the fact that I was given a sliver of enlightenment this week.  Flying Tomato lent me a book months ago with the short stories of Runner's World.  (Sadly, my Words With Friends addiction, while not kicking me off of airplanes, has grossly interfered with my reading time.)  I have been reading a story every few days for months.  This week, I came across a fantastic quote from Alberto Salazar that touched me at the right time. 

"I had as many doubts as anyone else.  Standing on the starting line, we're all cowards." 

And that made me feel, well, comforted.  Knowing that a lot of other runners have the same fears when it comes to the final moments before the gun.  There's that strange feeling of the first few strides of the race that I think, 'uh oh, there's no turning back now!'  It keeps us up the night before a race--multiple nights if we are extreme worriers.  And for us recreational folks, there is no other rationale than good old-fashioned fear.  Ok, ok, there might be a few butterflies reserved for excitement.... 

This will be my first official half (shhh..don't tell anyone I just skipped over that and dove into marathons) and my first race with a friend.  I plan to hang alongside FT for the race and the 1:50 pace group.  I know I have it in me to run closer to 1:40 if all conditions are good (flat, great weather, great training, great race day).  And yes, I'd love to run a great race tomorrow, I'd be a liar if I said otherwise.  But I'd rather spend 5 extra minutes on the course smiling like the big goober that I am tomorrow and save the competitive spirit for another day.  After all, tomorrow's hills might make that 8:24 pace brutal--I don't want to be eating a piece of humble pie for dessert.

Let's rock n' roll:

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