Thursday, October 6, 2011


I decided to try to put into words what I've been feeling this week (since watching the Lakefront Marathon this Sunday), so that I can look back at this after the marathon and laugh (hopefully). Because right now I feel... something that I wish we had a word for.

It's the most severe case of excitement and worry that I've ever felt before, all bundled into a sinking feeling in my stomach. When I let myself focus on it, my head spins. I can almost feel whatever stuff makes up my head sinking down my spine and into my stomach.

This happens every time I think about the marathon, and I've been doing a lot of thinking about the marathon—it being only a few days away and everything. Even when I'm going over the logistics of getting to Chicago in my head, my stomach knots up. It is not pleasant.

I was trying to figure out why this is happening to me, and I have a few ideas. Obviously it's because I don't know what's going to happen on Sunday. I'm confident I'll finish the race (though even that isn't ensured), and I suspect I'll do it in a time that is respectable to me, but that is much less ensured than me finishing in the first place. The root of all this unsureness is, I think, that I don't yet consider myself a runner.

I've only been running, in even the most lenient sense of the word, for four years. For the first three of those, I'd never run more than a mile at a time. It was only about one year ago that I tried running 3.1 miles in preparation for my first race. Several months later, I moved up to five miles. And it's only been about three months since I ran anything more than that, and though I've completed my training well and I've proven to my body that I'm capable of covering the distance, it hasn't quite sunk in. I haven't proven to myself over a long period of time that I'm a runner. (I wonder how long that will take.) I need to make myself believe it.

Completing my first marathon may do the trick, but it's an awful game waiting.

I've also been getting caught up in the logistics. Should I bring my iPod? Some people say "no" unqualifiedly, but I've discounted their answers because they're seasoned runners and I am not. Some people say "yes" unqualifiedly, but then there are some parts of the runners' answer that ring true for me. And this conflict, though it may seem minor to an outsider, is kind of tearing me apart. I think I've decided to bring my iPod and use it if I need to, but now I'm questioning that conclusion.

And the weather! My last several long runs have started at 6:15 a.m. in the brisk of setting summer—50 degrees or less and sometimes coolly misty—and the forecast for Sunday in Chicago is upper 50s to 60s. Not a huge issue, compared to what the Midwest is capable of, but it's another thing for me to worry about.

Carbo-loading, that's another thing. Am I doing it right? What if I'm not? My legs have been feeling a little sore—do I need more protein? Am I just nervous? Am I eating too much? Am I taking in more fat or more protein than I think I am? Does it even matter?

Pace. I want so badly to finish in under four hours, but I have no idea if that is reasonable, especially considering I've barely been able to finish half-marathons in two hours. Though my last 8-miler was really fast for me—is that how the marathon is going to go now that I'm all tapered and rested? I've been trying to create a pace schedule for myself, but I really have no idea what I'm doing. I've come up with something that I think seems reasonable, but I have no reason to believe in it.

Then there's the stress of not having raised quite all the money I committed to raising for Rock for Reading.

And the stress of the rest of my life... Schoolwork catching up with me because there aren't enough hours in the day after I get off work and get out of class. My social life that's been little-existent. This book Brenna really wants me to read and she went out and bought it for me with the expectation that I'd finish it before my marathon but I just don't have the time to read it because my schedule affords me about 45 minutes of free time a day and I'd rather eat some food than read a book.

I'm terrified. I'm excited.

Everyone I talk to tries to give me solace, but it hasn't been helping. I think this is because these people are not me. This is my problem, and it happens in everything: I don't take people's word for it—I always have to find out for myself. Therefore I need to find the solace within myself. But it's been troublesome.

I have just written up a fairly exhaustive list of everything that's been keeping me on edge, and I can go through and refute each one individually to myself, but that doesn't help. This tells me that what I'm feeling is not the result of anything rational. And how do you vanquish something that doesn't adhere to any sort of laws? (At least laws I know about.)

In an attempt to restore some order to my life, I'm going to pack for the weekend. Then I'm going to get a head start on next week's schoolwork so that can't stress me out this weekend. Then I'm going to bed. I'm going to wake up at 1:55 a.m. to preorder my iPhone 4S and go back to bed. Then when I wake up it's going to be the big carbo-loading day—the start of my marathon weekend, but the end of my marathon training.

Breathe deeply with me.

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