I am typically anxious about races, although I've been getting better at handling my nerves during the past year. My anxiety about Vermont City, however, is of a totally different type. Normally, if I blow a race, no one cares but me. Next Sunday, however, a group of runners will put their faith in me to get them across the finish line in 4 hours and 15 minutes.
On one hand, I am confident I can handle the pace, which is not always true when I toe the line of a race. I know I can finish; I did Boston 6 weeks ago, a 20 miler that took longer on my feet than the race will and an 18 at Sunday's 9:35 pace. While I may be nervous about pacing, I won't have the nerves and adrenaline coursing through my veins causing me to turn in a sub 6:30 first mile (true story, did it in Vegas.)
On the other hand, 9:35 is a comfortable, but slow pace for me. I'm worried that I'll be antsy and go too fast. I'm worried that over four hours on my feet will wreak havoc on my normal nutrition approach or that I'll get a blister or chafe. I'm worried that on Church Street, I'll get drawn along with the crowds. I'm worried that I'll miscalculate and bring us in at 4:16. Or 4:13. I'm worried about the weather; 73 and drizzly is gruesome running weather. In short, I'm experiencing anxiety about this race much like most of my group probably is.
I'm hopeful that the weather will be okay and that if it's going to be 73, it does drizzle to keep us comfortable. I'm hopeful that after a few miles of high nerves, I'll settle comfortably into 9:35s. I'm hopeful that between Howard and I, we can cover each other during the inevitable tough miles. I'm hopeful my shoulder doesn't kill me while carrying the sign.
Seems like patience and intelligent running is my theme this year. I hope that my practice with pacing during Boston and during the 6 weeks after pays dividends next weekend. And that I get ONE race photo where I look happy. Just one. Cannot be too much to ask...