[164] Butterflies

Like many athletes, I get nervous before a race. Really nervous. Perhaps a runner exists who can stride confidently to the starting line of even the most consequential race. That runner is not me. About six weeks ago I started feeling that little drop in my gut whenever I saw a shamrock or other symbol of St. Patrick’s Day (if you’re new here, I’m running the Shamrock Marathon on St. Patrick’s Day weekend). My skin gets tingly when I scroll past a post from the Shamrock folks on my Facebook timeline. Butterflies in my stomach? More like a flock of migrating sandhill cranes.

I’ve allowed this race to take on an Olympian persona – not only have I set an aggressive goal for myself, but I know that this could be the last time in my life that I approach the marathon at my current level of fitness. It could be several years before our next child is old enough to allow me to dedicate more time to training. Not only will I be a few years older, but I won’t have the solid running and triathlon fitness behind me like I have right now. I won’t be starting from scratch, but I’ll certainly be a few rungs down the ladder. I won’t say there will never be another chance to qualify for Boston, but this moment is about as good as it’s going to get.

There lies the root of my apprehension. This will be the first race where I’ve been shooting for a standard set by someone else. In other races I’ve chased PRs and 10-minute denominations (sub-1:40 in the half or sub-20 in the 5k, for example), but they’ve been goals that have only had significance in my own little running sphere. For once I’m chasing a goal that has a concrete meaning in the larger world – even non-runners are at least familiar with the idea that qualifying for Boston is hard to do.

And while I’ve run my training miles in solitude, I feel like there are a lot of eyes on me for this race. Social media such as Daily Mile and this blog have been wonderful to help me connect with athletes of similar interests and abilities (and those that are far faster but provide inspiration and knowledge), but the flip side is that I feel like I have a lot to prove with this race. I’ve received so much support and encouragement from these people (including those of you who are reading now), and I feel like I need to show I can actually pull it all off. After March 18 all the training and preparation fade away and leave only the final clock time to judge the effort of the past months.

(It’s intentional that very few people in my non-Internet life know that I’m chasing a BQ, or even that I’m training for a marathon – there’s less to explain if I fall short on race day!)

However, there are a lot of reasons to be confident as I approach the final week of taper. My training cycle has been about as perfect as I could have asked for. I nailed every workout and, looking back, I can’t think of much I would have changed. To be going into the marathon with this kind of preparation is really the best situation I could hope for.

I’ve taken care of everything under my control, and I need to find a way this week to get out of my own head. I can’t let the significance of this race – realistic or not – paralyze me. All that’s left is to show up next Sunday, turn off my brain, and let my body do what it knows how to do.

Bike: 0/334.5 miles
Run: 6/404.1 miles
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15 Responses to [164] Butterflies

  1. Funny, I feel so similar to you going into this same race .
    No matter what you do that day I don’t think anyone will question your ability as an athlete or how much work you have put into this.
    “those who mind don’t matter, those who matter don’t mind” – Bernard Baruch
    Release those butterflies and let those legs fly 3/18. Sounds like you have never been more prepared.

  2. Ann says:

    You have trained for it. Now you have to work your plan and things will fall into place. I do have to say though that children, no matter what the age don’t have to hamper your marathon training. My husband and I have both trained for marathons throughout our children’s lives. It has been great for them and great for us. Good luck out there.

    • traintotri says:

      You’re right. I let my training slack off for a few months after our first daughter was born, and I really want to avoid that this time around. I just need to make it work.

  3. jnkmiles.org says:

    You are going to great things I have no doubt. Numbers don’t lie and you’ve put up some great ones, day after day. Now come the easy part….go out there and have fun doing what you love to do!! The rest will simply fall into place!! 🙂

  4. David H. says:

    I’ve always said the day that I don’t get nervous for a race is the day that I’ll move along to something else. I do whatever I can to get extra sleep or at least regular sleep in the 2-3 nights before; the night of it doesn’t really matter. I hope this next week doesn’t drag along for you!

    • traintotri says:

      Thanks, David. I’ve got some non-fitness activities planned for the week that should take my mind off of things. I’ll definitely be resting up and hoping to get a little more sleep if I can.

  5. Rebecca says:

    It’s in the bag. Just keep your head on straight during the first half and you will have no problems at all.

  6. sethbertronecclesiates says:

    All your training is in the bank. Don’t think about failing… it’s not even an option. Get that out of your head completely. Don’t worry about other people’s expectations. You know you can do it physically. Only thing to do now is work on your mental game. Relax and have fun. Think about how good the feeling of success will be when your training pays off, and that is all. Go out there and crush it. You got it. Easy day.

    • traintotri says:

      It must be nice to never have any doubts about yourself 😉 Of course, that’s why you’re going to be a SEAL and I’m not. Thanks for the kick in the pants, bro!

      • sethbertronecclesiates says:

        A SEAL once told me, “Of course you are going to doubt yourself. Everyone does. So hurry up and doubt yourself so you can get over it and move on.” All the doubts left my head soon after that. It’s do or die bro!

  7. krissy m. murphy says:

    “Social media such as Daily Mile and this blog have been wonderful to help me connect with athletes of similar interests and abilities (and those that are far faster but provide inspiration and knowledge), but the flip side is that I feel like I have a lot to prove with this race. I’ve received so much support and encouragement from these people (including those of you who are reading now), and I feel like I need to show I can actually pull it all of”


    I feel like I could have written this myself!

    I think the most important thing to do in this situation is to just BE! We’ve put in the training and done the work, now it’s just time to let it go and RACE! 🙂

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