Here I am, FINALLY just 4 days away from my first 100 mile attempt and so much is going through my mind. The strangest thing is what isn’t going through my mind.
Generally speaking, I LOSE MY MIND every time I taper. It is a common affliction and many in my sport like to call it the “Taper Crazies”. I am usually consumed with anxiety, restless energy, doubts and fears. More times than not, I do something really, really stupid. Like going for my first open water swim, slipping on the boat ramp and breaking my toe. Or I go crazy on Ultra Sign Up and register for races that are harder than the one I’m about to run.
But this taper…. The taper before the BIGGEST race of my life to date, and I have yet to experience any anxiety, doubt, restless energy, or fear. I keep trying to assess why I am so calm, because there HAS to be something wrong, right? Or maybe not.
I am confident. I worked my ass off in training. No, I didn’t run every mile that was scheduled, but I was consistent. And during all that training, I never went out and “just” ran. Knowing I gave it my all has helped me trust my training.
I am mentally tough. I fought many mental battles during training and spent countless hours outside of training getting my mind right. I read everything I could get my hands on and listened to countless podcasts to gain insight into tackling this distance.
I am prepared. I have packed everything (times 3 – no kidding) that I can think of that I might remotely need. (Well, I’ve decided not to take the kitchen sink.)
I know that nothing is guaranteed. NOTHING IS GUARANTEED. I may not finish and I am OK with that. My goal this year was to push myself and get to that place that I had to fight with every fiber of my being to continue. If I get to that place and I am unable to finish, I will still have accomplished what I set out to do.
Pain isn’t optional – it’s guaranteed. Whether or not I suffer is completely and totally up to me.
This distance is ridiculously far. I understand the challenges that I’ll be facing, but I’ll also be in the same boat as veterans toeing the start line. No one can predict what hardships will be visited upon them during the course of 100 miles. Part of the challenge; part of the lure of this distance is that uncertanty.
My race plan is aggressive. Probably too aggressive for my first 100, but, honestly, how does one really know what “too aggressive” is on their first attempt?? Many have suggested that I should just “race just to finish”, but I’m not a race just to finish kind of gal. In most of my races this year, I had a feeling going in what I would run. And every race, I was within minutes of my guess. After this happened a couple times, I began to trust my instincts more and more. I feel in all my being that this is the right race plan for me. I know that it won’t go completely according to plan. Hell, it may not go AT ALL according to plan! But if/when it all falls apart, I’ll use my strengths, which is assessing my situation and coming up with possible solutions.
This race is going to be epic. It will be an epic success or an epic failure. But if I fail to finish, I will be FAR from a failure. If I fail to finish, I will have hopefully found that place, that line that I’ve not been able to find, let alone cross. If that line is revealed to me, I suspect I’ll have learned much more about myself than I would have coasting easily and cautiously to the finish line, if I had just raced to finish. Either way, I believe that I will prove to myself something that I’ve known (but not acknowledged) for a very long time – 100 miles is going to prove to be my favorite distance.