If there is one thing I've learned in my years of running and racing, it's that the most important thing you can do going into race day is to trust your body and trust in your training. There will be times when your training wasn't what you wanted it to be or when you were working through injury or you just weren't having a good training block; but all of those things need to be in the past. Leading up to race day no matter what has happened in the weeks and months before, the most important thing is to trust in every mile and every minute you've put in to get you to that start line. If you can't do this or if you don't do this, failure is almost inevitable. If you don't even get to the start line mentally ready, you won't make it to the finish line how or when you want to get there. I know this. I tell myself this every day.
When it comes to focusing on my upcoming Run4Water 24 hour race, these past 2 weeks I've been an absolute wreck. No, it isn't because the training isn't what I wanted it to be, I wasn't injured, and I had one of the best training blocks of my life. I honestly don't know what it is. Maybe I'm scared of failing or maybe I've put so much pressure on myself over the past year that it's become too heavy to carry? The worst part is that the pressure to succeed is 100% my own. It's not coming from anyone else, but yet it's never been greater. Maybe it's because no matter what happens after this weekend I don't have any other goals to look forward to? Things at work are typical (not great not terrible) and things at home are great, so it's none of that "other stuff" so it's gotta be this race. If you're reading this and you know me, you know that to those closest around me I wear my heart on my sleeve. If you don't know me and you're reading this (thank you), you'll have to take my word for it. I'm an emotional guy, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows it's my friends that get me through and who I want to share those with. I guess that's why I'm sharing this now.
The only thing I've focused on for the past several months is what it would feel like to know on April 2nd that I'll be representing my country at the IAU 24 Hour World Championships in Ireland in July. That's it. Every long run, every track workout, every early morning alarm clock that beeps or not having that beer with dinner and going to bed at 9am has been for this. If I don't make it, will it all have been worth it? And there it is, without even realizing it, my mind overrode my body yet again.
Here is what I know. I know that in the last 3 months I've run more miles than any other 3 months in my life combined. I averaged 114 miles per week over a 4 week span after not ever running more than one consecutive 100 mile week.
For 5 weeks in a row I ran long runs of at least a marathon (27, 50, 27, 35, 40) including pacing a 3:15 marathon on an 84 mile recovery week with very little effort. And, AND, I ran a 3:00:30 training marathon (on a treadmill) to cap off the longest mileage run training week of my life. I know that my body is in the best shape it's ever been in! I know this. I know it deep in my heart. But why do I keep letting my mind creep in and wander? Is it because I'm all in? This is my last chance at this (for 2 years)? Maybe it's because I'm afraid that this will be the only opportunity or the closest I'll ever get to being good enough at anything to be at this level. Is it because there are close to 10 guys signed up for this race who have run over 140 miles at some point in their lives? Yes. All of this.
I've went into races in the past a bit nervous and it's not uncommon for me to have some pretty intense race anxiety dreams a week before races but for this race I've been having very vivid dreams for the past 3 weeks! I recently dreamed that I missed the start of the race because they started it early without me. I couldn't find my Hoka's to get to the start line and I couldn't find the ChafeX cream I use on my toes. I've also dreamed that I finish the 24 hours and look at the clock and see that I've run over 150 miles and literally felt what it may feel like to make the National Team only to wake up and realize it wasn't true.
I'm not entirely sure why I'm even writing this down. Maybe it will help me feel better? Maybe it will allow me to reflect back one day in the future on this race and how I approached it? Maybe I just want to tell someone how my mind will not stop racing every minute of every day leading up to this race and I can't figure out how to shut it down. I don't know.
I know that I need to focus on the right here and the right now. Focus on getting my rest, nutrition, and getting myself in the best possible frame of mind to succeed this weekend. If I can do that, then maybe, just maybe, I'll get to the start line where I need to be so that I can mentally tackle running for 24 hours without stopping. I know that if I can get to that point, my legs and my crew (Johnny and Woo) will help me get to the magic 150.
My body is ready. Is my mind? Only time will tell.