A coworker said this to me last week as I began my minor-freak out that yes, this Sunday my Brooks will toe the starting line of my first full marathon on the opposite coast at the Big Sur International Marathon.
This past year has been an incredible journey and training for Big Sur has been no different. I’ve had flawless training, nailed my paces, conquered some pretty significant hills and followed my training plan to a T. So, why am I still so anxious for Sunday?
I think race anxiety is 100 percent normal. To me, what makes it such a confusing emotion is, although I’m nervous to run 26.2 miles, I’m also really excited for the entire experience. Other friends and coworkers have reminded me, “you only have a first marathon once, so enjoy it.”
That’s what I plan to do. I plan to take it all in. I’m going to have the most beautiful views to keep me company along Highway 1 and I don’t want to miss any of them. Also, the pressure of a target time is completely off because the good news about racing a new, longer distance is no matter what, it’s a PR!
But for some reason, as excited and nervous as I am for Big Sur, another emotion has recently surfaced that I wasn’t prepared for- sadness. For the past year, I’ve considered myself a beginner. I started running in March 2012 and have built up from there. Running (and finishing) Big Sur this weekend feels almost like I’m closing my beginner’s chapter of my running story. Some people might not like to admit this but I like to call myself a beginner. I like that I can relate to new runners and help them just as some of my other runner friends have helped me. And sometimes, calling myself a beginner gives me a sense of security so when I tell people I have a new PR, I can follow up with, it’s good for me because I’m a beginner.
Finishing Big Sur will officially mean I’m no longer a beginner runner. But it won’t change my status as a new runner and it won’t mean I’m done learning new things about running- believe me, I have a lot more to learn. I’ve learned a lot through this training cycle and I will continue to learn more as I recover in the following weeks and start up a new training cycle, whenever and for whatever that may be.
As I make my way up the coast of California, on the breathtakingly beautiful Highway 1, I vow to take it all in, listen to the runners around me, see every view, laugh at every unique mile marker, listen to the piano man and the taiko drummers and just enjoy it because it will be my first full marathon, but most certainly not my last. Big Sur will be my victory lap but not my finish line.
When I began training for Big Sur back in January I bought myself an Erica Sara “Say It Do It” bracelet with the words, “She believed she could,” engraved on one side of the medallion. The words are from a quote, “She believed she could, so she did.” As I cross the finish line at Big Sur on Sunday, probably with tears in my eyes, I’ll be able to complete the quote- “so she did.”