So, this is what we did: as it turns out the training program calls for a sixteen klick race pace training run eight days before the main event. As it also turns out, the race course is (if you reeeeally stretch your imagination) a kinda-figure-eight shape, the intersection being both the start, the finish, and also a point bisecting one loop of roughly the first twenty-six kilometres and another loop of roughly the last sixteen kilometres. Get it?
Two loops: one twenty-six, the other sixteen… ish.
Photo of 2010 Intact Marathoners by Sangudo via Flickr w/ Creative Commons Attribution License
The point was simple: it is quite possible that confidence stems from familiarity. Yes, there is the fear inherent in knowing what awaits, but there is also a measure of calm that blossoms from NOT facing the unknown. We ran the second loop, weaving through the last sixteen klicks of the race course, a near-silent troupe of eight of us stoically facing the road and the knowledge of our inevitable trail on this exact asphalt in a (then) little over one week’s time. We purchased familiarity with an hour and a half of footfalls, and traced out our future path in our present minds. Confidence burst forth.
There are a mere five days until race day as I write these words. That confidence is a fickle thing, let me tell you. There are moments when I sit here thinking “bring it on.” And there are moments when I wonder silently to myself if I somehow, possibly, left my sanity on a park bench somewhere never to be seen again.
I don’t suffer alone. I lead a whole group of others on this funny little adventure, all of whom are probably far more prepared than I if for no other reason than –as one often does in these situations– I’ve been doing a lot of leading from behind, focusing on potential stragglers and running circles, sometimes literally, trying to keep the group entangled and together in our training.
one klick or forty-two, the first one is always a big one
Not to mention, I registered Claire for the one-klick kids race the evening before. She gets a shirt and a medal, and she has been talking about it with the same kind of nervous anticipation I’d previously only reserved for myself. She’s excited, but it will be her first race and one klick or forty-two, the first one is always a big one.
I have goals. Finishing times in my head. Plan ‘A’ and Plan ‘B’ and a loaf of other caveat-laden plans that redeem the effort all round. I can’t even begin to suggest where they land on the spectrum of realistic expectations to gross under-estimation, but I suspect I’m in for a surprise about just how wrong certain assumptions have been.
Trust the training, right?