Someone recently asked me why I get nervous before a race. “Is it the fear of failure or pain,” she asked. After thinking about it for a while I realized I fear the pain. In my eyes failing would be not giving 100%, which only happens if I choose to give up and not fight through the pain. You can’t generalize failure as a certain place or time, everyday is different, each course has new challenges, and the level of competition varies.
To be honest though, in practice I love the pain – it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing my goals. This mindset has to be flawed, because in every race my goal is to feel relaxed while running fast. Usually I want to be running with the pack, knowing that I have enough left to finish fast, and ideally win. In the 3k at the Aviva 5 Nations Match I was able to do that by following the group around the track for 14 laps (2800 meters) and kicking with everything I had left in the last 200 meters. That worked out pretty well, so for today’s race – the USATF Cross Country National Championships – my goal is to sit in the pack and not think until after I cross the finish line.
I’ve scanned the status of entries a few times and it seems like there are probably 20 people fighting for a shot to make the 2011 USA XC team. I’m hoping to be one of the 6 that go to Punta Umbria, Spain for the World Cross Country Championships. If not, I hope to be one of the 5 traveling to Tobago for the NACAC Cross Country Championships. If not, I hope I ran a great race. For each race everyone on the line gets a chance to prove themselves. I made huge strides last weekend in the 3k (I’m currently ranked 12th in the world! I’m sure that ranking will change soon though, so I have to brag about it while it’s still true!), and hope to use the knowledge and confidence I gained in the race today!