October 10, 2009: 5K Nerves

Los Angeles, California – Tomorrow is my much anticipated 5k running race of the year in Long Beach. Ever since I started running 5k races three years ago, Long Beach has been my favorite not only because it’s super flat (except for one killer hill at the very end of the race), but also because I’ve done well there, obtaining my top percentage placements and getting two PRs. But I’m really nervous for tomorrow since I haven’t trained as well as I’d hoped, and the pressure is on to achieve a new PR since it’s only my second race in the past year. Granted I’m the only one who is putting pressure on me to do well, but I really want to beat last year’s time. It’ll be a good sign that I’m getting stronger and faster in my advanced age!

But I’m not looking forward to those moments of anguish and dread that I feel during the first few minutes of a race when I start out too fast. That’s when the thoughts of, ‘why am I doing this?! this is torture!’ repeat over and over in my head. They eventually get drown out by the sheer volume of my huffing and puffing and the sound of my heart trying to explode out of my chest, but for those few moments, it’s agony.The last couple of times I did longer runs I couldn’t keep the pace that I need and I felt terribly winded. I’ve been doing sprint work over the course of the summer but not consistently enough due to all the traveling.

BUT this is a good lesson on staying relaxed and focusing on process-oriented goals (running my best) rather than results-oriented goals (getting a PR). It’s also a good exercise on working through the physical pain and mental negativity, and finding that Zone where my thoughts and (screaming) emotions turn off and my body just takes over and does its thing. That’s what I need to find to snowboard race at my best. So overall tomorrow’s race is a good thing, tomorrow’s race is a good thing, tomorrow’s race is a good thing…

Addendum: I already published the above part of this post, but I had a revelation and wanted to make an addendum. I think the real reason that I’m nervous about the 5k race is not because of the physical pain and dread that normally comes along with it (although there is great elation at the finish line, especially if it’s a good time), but because of the fear of failure of not obtaining my goal of getting my fastest time. I think I’m likening it to the ‘what if’ worst case scenario when it comes to snowboarding and that fear is the one that’s coming into play for this race. I almost feel like it’s the final qualifying world cup for the Olympics and I have to do well, otherwise my dream is dimished. I’m completely projecting the fear of failure in snowboarding onto tomorrow’s race, and it’s making my stomach churn. Interesting. Gotta work on that one.

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