The Race is Long

Killing Self-Doubt

I’ve done quite a few half-marathons in the last 6 years or so. Even from the very first one I did, I never really felt any real fear of the distance; I never felt that it was something I could not do. I knew I’d cross the finish barring an accident or a medical emergency—I’m stubborn or stupid and arrogant that way. So, I was a bit surprised at the anxiety I encountered over this last one. Of course I knew I needed to train more—a lot more— but it’s not like I haven’t done 21s unprepared.

Perhaps it’s due to the lack of racing. I’ve been scrimping some and haven’t been joining races. But not joining races has also affected my usual running. Not having a certain goal or event to look forward to has allowed me to be lazier and not push more when situations aren’t ideal. When I feel headachy and there’s a threat of migraine, tired, or extra busy I easily put off running. All that eroded not just my fitness but also my confidence. I knew I could walk the distance if it came to that but still…

The Condura Skyway half was set to start at 3:30 a.m. I stayed over at my sister’s so we can go together at the meet up with fellow runners heading for Alabang.  We planned on getting up at 1 a.m. and leave at 2, that’s enough time for coffee and a snack and the rest of our pre-race ablutions. I didn’t really sleep. Unused to going to bed so early, I ended up taking a couple of 10 minute naps and reading until it was time to get up instead.

I suppose it was a good thing, not sleeping. I was up reading Scott Jurek’s “Eat and Run” and I felt so much steadier about the upcoming half-marathon. It reminded me that I’ve done, endured, and survived worse—I already know all this of course but self-doubt is good at mind jobs. By the time I stood at the starting line, I was good. No more doubts. The only fear I had was that of the tummy problems variety. I had this weird  feeling in my midsection and I worried: will I get a tummy ache, will the gels I take lead me to needing a portalet—I prayed hard not to end up with this, I don’t think I could have gone to one anyway and that would mean I’d DNF.

In the end, my fear of runner’s trots stopped me from taking any of the gels I packed until the last stretch, the last 5k , when I was sure I’d be quite safe or at least I’d make it into a real toilet. I knew I flagged in the 3rd quarter of my run and the gel I took was a tad late but I’m okay with that. I ran and finished my 21. It was not a stellar effort on my part but it was good. I felt reaffirmed. I could “gut it out” and I’m glad for the knowledge.

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