August 28, 2011

Runner's Brain

In exactly one week, with any luck, I will be sitting on my couch, tired feet propped up, iced coffee in hand (or perhaps even something a bit stronger), and a shiny finisher's medal around my neck. Yep, the race that has been so many months away for, well, months... is now next weekend. Can you feel the nerves radiating from this blog? Because I'm not so sure those rumblings last week weren't just the crazy palpitations of my heart, beating straight through my feet and shaking things up from Toronto to North Carolina. 
To be totally honest, I'm not sure why I'm so nervous. I've made it through two 13.5 mile runs in the past two months, and neither time was the urge to lie down and die on the side of the road so large that I couldn't talk myself through it. I've powered through huge hills and oppressive heat, sore muscles and interval workouts, mental walls and legs that feel like concrete slabs. I've experienced technical problems, animal encounters, and one slightly embarrassing tumble. All in all, I've run hundreds of miles in preparation for these 13.1.
But despite all that, I know that when I get to that starting line next week at the crack of dawn, I'm going to be terrified. My stomach will be doing unhappy little flips, and my mind is likely to come up with a million reasons that I'm crazy to even consider this. I'm not a runner, I'm a girl who started running to combat stress, worry, and the occasional cupcake. I stuck with it for the sense of accomplishment, calm, and the slightly diminished guilt about all the frozen yogurt. I'm a girl who knows very little about running, but kind of enjoys it... most days. I'm not really a runner. 
But the other people who will be running in a week? They are runners. Who probably followed training plans written by people other than themselves. Who have probably been running consistently for more than 6 months. Who probably move a little faster than my preferred "slow and steady" pace, while not looking like they're about to melt into a large puddle of sweat. Who are motivated by more than just a large bowl of pasta.
All I can hope is that these runners will inspire me, welcome me, and maybe even push me a little. I can hope that my nerves will give me a jump-start. I can hope that the memories of all my training runs, both the good and the bad, will carry me through the tough miles with confidence. I can hope that the adrenaline of thousands of runners, hundreds of onlookers, and awesome volunteers will help me forget how long 13.1 miles can really feel. And if nothing else, I can hope that the iced coffee waiting for me just past the finish line will be enough to get me there in one piece. Because my one and only goal for this little adventure? To cross the finish line. Alive. And smiling.



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