My thoughts swing back and forth between nervousness and calm… Self-doubt and a sense of confidence… Flashing thoughts of anxiety and focus…
This happened to me before, as I led up to my last “A” race at Greenbrier. I expect the same thing will happen as last time: I start with frequent mood shifts during the beginning of the week, first feeling focused and dedicated to doing this week right, training exactly the way I’m supposed to, eating right, getting enough sleep. Then going stir crazy as nagging worries creep into my mind… What if I slacked off on the intervals too many times? What if I’ve been eating too much/not enough? What if my legs don’t recover enough?
But as the middle of the week comes along, a sense of acceptance comes over me. It’s a realization that whatever training I’ve done is going to have to be good enough. There’s simply not enough time to affect it now. And I’ve been training really well… All I need to do is maintain and go into the race fully rested. The rest will take care of itself.
As I go through the last couple days before the big day, the race consumes my thoughts. I go to bed on time every night. I eat impeccably and I feel my body become lean. As I fill up on extra water, protein, and complex carbs, I feel a sense of calm fill my mind. I’m not replacing negative thoughts with positive ones by sheer will. Instead my focus on the coming race leaves no room for doubt. My confidence builds… Not a confidence that I’ll win, but a confidence that I’m ready to do my best and that I won’t let myself down.
I make decisions to be aggressive, to treat each moment of the race as if it’s crucial, to not let up. I remember how I felt at Greenbrier, how I didn’t hold anything back, and how I never conceded inside my own head. That’s what I will do again.
But this time is different. I’m building on past successes. I was able to stand on the podium in a National qualifying event. I was able to stay close to women who kicked my butt last year. I was able to excel in my first endurance race ever. I know how it feels to turn myself inside out at the start line. I know how to push hard for the entire race. I know how it feels to pace myself for long distances.
This coming race is on a course I know very well. It’s a course I find easy. The field of competitors will be large. I want this chance to see how I stack up against all of them. No longer do I worry about being last, about showing no improvement since my abysmal 2011 season. Now I have confidence in my training. I’ve also got some experience in how to dig deep to get that last little bit to propel me farther. I will dig deep because I want it that badly!