Do you ever have that haunting feeling, like you left something undone? Unaccomplished? Unfinished. Yet, you can't really put your finger on it? Well, fortunately (?) I can put my finger on it, but unfortunately there is nothing I can do about it. That feeling has haunted me day and night since the April Run4Water 24 hour event back in Nashville. It's this feeling, of failure, that has motivated me to run endless miles, get up at 3am for runs, and literally run to the end of the state for training.
If there's any such thing as an "ace up your sleeve" in this race, I'm riding along with him as race veteran (and 3x King of The Road) Greg Armstrong helps me to preview the course less than 24 hours before I'll be stepping off the ferry for the start of the Last Annual Vol State Road Race. The training is done and the fear that has pushed me this far has only intensified. Am I ready? Did I prepare enough? Can I do this?
Greg and I spent most of the day Tuesday and Wednesday having driven the majority of the course. Now as I sit in the hotel with only a few hours to go before we get started I'll go through my gear and maps once more before trying to get a good night sleep on the last bed I'll encounter for several days. As the miles and hours get closer my mind races quicker.
Will my inexperience be my demise or will it allow me to be cautiously optimistic along the course? Will the 100F+ heat indexes be too much for me to manage? I've got goals. Big goals for this race. I had to put it all out there and reach for the stars after not seeing my most recent goals accomplished. I needed to do it, for me. Not for anyone else. But, have I set the bar too high? If things don't go well what will I do next?
What I do know is that the feeling of not finishing my last 24 hour race still stings something fierce. I absolutely will not allow myself not to finish this race. If it takes me the full 10 days and I have to reschedule my flight and miss a few extra days of work then so be it. That feeling of quitting and not leaving everything on the course is one that I know all too well. I will not have it when I leave the state of Tennessee again.
No matter how long the race takes me I know that I will learn a lot about myself. I'll push myself through the unknown and into the depths of hell and back out again and again. I'll have to if I want to finish. That's why I'm here. To become a stronger runner and even a stronger person at the end of the day. I know that no matter if it takes me 4 or 10 days to run 314 miles that I'll come out on the other side better for it. I'll need to run for the low points and embrace them for all they are worth. I'll need to take the heat and everything that comes with it and roll with the punches. This is my race, and I paid to be here so I had better make the most of it.
I just have to remember that although I'm here on my own that I am far from alone. I've got the support of amazing family and friends both near and far and I'll feel all of you rooting for me along the way.