One week from today I will be making my trip to the Akron Marathon expo to pick up my racing packet. Welcome to the week of my nerves becoming a key factor to the success or failure of my entire training effort. The rational side of my brain likes to think that I prepared well for this race, that my runs have been rather successful, that I am relatively well-rested and that I can do it. The irrational side of my brain likes to think that I am the worst runner in history, that my training has suffered because of my return to teaching, that my nutrition is awful and that I will hit the wall at mile 8 and have to walk off the course in shame. As these two sides of my brain hash it out, I will have nightmares that I forgot about the race, that I am waking up late in Lake County and hustling the hour to get there, that I will forget to pick up my brother-in-law, that I will fail on all fronts. I’ve been down this rabbit hole before and I just have to push through it. My anxiety is a natural part of my existence and I’ve accepted that no matter how zen I think I can go, I’m still bound to be nervous.
A little over 4 years ago I completed my first 5K. I remember the morning clearly and I also remember my nerves causing me plenty of nausea. The weather was cool and rainy, leaving me uncertain as to what clothes to wear. I was unsure of how much to eat, what to drink, how many times to go to the bathroom. I got to the venue, looked around at all the experienced runners, and promptly decided to go back to the car and head home. I sucked it up instead, walked over to the registration table and asked for my bib number. I grabbed the small piece of paper, looked down, and saw my grandpa’s birthdate printed on my bib. 1028, October 28th. And that’s when I knew that quitting wasn’t going to be an option. Some people look for signs, messages that you are on the right path, making the right choice. That number was mine. I ran, I finished and I have considered myself a runner ever since.