Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why I’m Nervous for NYCM

Since making my personal declaration last Sunday that I will indeed be running the New York City Marathon this weekend, I’ve been asked a lot of questions by runners and nonrunners, family and friends, and everyone else in between about the upcoming race. When are you starting? What’s the weather going to be like? What are you wearing? Are you running a sub-3:05 or sub-3:00? Should I wait for you on the east side of 1st Avenue or the west side? Do you want me to carry a sign or bring along some food? Is food enough or would you like a change of clothes…or socks…if it rains? Just questions upon questions, most of which I cannot answer and don’t want to think about, at least not now. Usually, when faced with such questions, I smile, thank the person for being so concerned (or at least feigning interest), and slip off in the opposite direction. However, there is one question I’ve been asked multiple times in the last couple of days by several people whose answer eludes me but yet I cannot stop thinking about. “Laminator, you’ve run marathons before and this particular one a couple of times. This race shouldn’t be so hard for you. Why are you so nervous?”

Maybe it’s because of the pressure and expectation to perform close to what my 1:25 half-marathon would have predicted. Maybe it’s the uncertainty of running with an injury, no matter how minor it might seem. Or maybe it’s the complicated weather pattern forecasted for this race which has me worried about the start. (I am a notoriously slow starter in the cold.) The truth is, I’m not exactly sure why. It just is. I’m just nervous because this race is important to me. For this one day once a year, I get to show my friends, my family, and my hometown fans what exactly I do best. By seeing me run, they may perhaps understand my motivation for skipping out on open bar happy hours, late night movies, and weekend family gatherings. For me, I want to show that that was all “worth it” in the end. For them, I do not want to “mess up”. Even if inherently I know that my exact time of finish is not so important to these spectators, it is important to me as a sign that I didn’t just run the marathon, but ran it well. I believe that is what Steve PreFontaine was talking about when he said “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” Is it so wrong to want to share your gift in front of all my family, friends and colleagues in the world’s greatest stage? I would think not.

An early best wishes for all those who will be showing off their “gifts” to the city with me on marathon Sunday. I, for one, can hardly wait.

16 comments:

joyRuN said...

Well, not sure what to tell you because I'd be nervous too. Anything like "ah you'll be fine" just sounds like the platitude that it is.

So here's to the weather gods cooperating, & to you being able to channel that nervous energy into the race. If not, here's to some good celeb watching (but it doesn't seem like you're into that).

BEST OF LUCK!!

Xenia said...

Feelings don't need to be logical or rational. They are what they are and you are most definitely entitled to have them, whatever they may be.

I know exactly what you are feeling right now, because that's what I'm feeling about my own marathon adventure. And I'll probably always feel it, no matter how many I end up running.

Good luck, Lam.

D10 said...

I think we all put added pressure on ourselves. We all want to do well. However, in reality our friends, family, co-workers, etc. are proud no matter what the results are. For many, they don't even realize what the time means.

You are going to do great. You are going to run your race and enjoy it. You will finish proud and all will be proud of you.

Meg said...

It's great that you have so many people that want to be there for you on the big day. It's understandable to be nervous and everyone wanting to talk about it just makes it harder. Try to enjoy a little bit of the great tour through your city. :)

J said...

Everyone gets nervous! You are a great runner!! You are one of very few who will run that marathon and run it very well!

leslie said...

To give your best, you go out and run with everything you have in you. But what you have in you varies from day to do, based on some factors within your control (what you eat, how you train) and some outside of your control (injury, weather, etc.). So have a goal, use it to pull you forward, but hang on loosely.

Sending speedy leg thoughts your way for the weekend.

The Happy Runner said...

"I’m just nervous because this race is important to me." There is no better reason. It is terrific that you want to share your best running you with your family and friends. Go out there and wow 'em!

Betsy said...

I understand completely - I get nervous before every single race, even if it's just a 5K.

I have the utmost confidence that you will go out there and run the very best you can on that day.

Brian Morrissey said...

you've done the work, now it's just time to celebrate that over three hours. (hopefully a minute or two less.) the great part of the marathon is unexpected things pop up. no matter what, once you're out there running, your training takes over. whenever i get nervous before a marathon -- and i've gotten nervous before all 13 i've done -- i think back to my training. the solitary long runs, the tough tempos, the pre-dawn miles when most normal people are asleep. hard work pays off. i'll look for the bandana up in harlem when you're heading to the park. have an extraordinary run.

Julianne said...

I am so excited for you!! And I think it's humbling that you're still nervous after so many races. I know you're going to do great, no matter what the expectations are. Yours and everyone elses'! I wish I was there to watch the race this weekend!! But you'll be in my thoughts! And it *is* totally worth it!!

Btw, thanks for the 20 mile 2 bridge run map!! I looked at it and looks doable. Hopefully it's not too cold in 3 weeks!! Well, i have gone out in 20 degrees for a run last year in Central Park and hopefully it won't be so bad in late Nov!

Girl on Top said...

Good luck! I have been following your blog and you are so ready for this one!

*aron* said...

what a great post! i am so excited for you!!! you are going to do awesome... just try to think of it as any other marathon you have run. i hope everything falls exactly into place that day - you deserve it :)

thanks again for all your advice... everything you say (write) makes complete sense and i am definitely keeping it in the front of my thoughts, esp this week! thanks for your help!!!

bill carter said...

Hi Lam

Truly, best of luck. I know how ready you are for this race and how much you want to run a great time. I also understand the pressure of high expectations. But I think that being able to acknowledge the fact that you do expect to do well shows how far you have come as a runner. Under the best of circumstances, the marathon is a very difficult, unpredictable foe. At this point, you have put in your time and effort and you really do have to let the chips fall where they may. And I have to believe that the result will be great and quite possibly even exceed your greatest expectations.

M*J*C said...

I so wish I could be there to see you race! Your posts are always so inspirational and it is so clear how passionate you are about running, of course this race is important to you, it is The Big Dance! You've worked so hard, all that is left to do is Dance Your Ass Off!!!! Best wishes for beautiful weather!! I will be thinking about you!

Run For Life said...

26.2 is 26.2 no matter how you slice it or how many times you run it. Being nervous is certainly valid and I think healthy. I'm glad last Sunday was great for you and hope this Sunday will be even better!

I know you already know this but I'll say it anyway: do your best while remembering to run your own race and not to the expectations to others.

HAVE FUN!!!

P.O.M. said...

I know what you mean - when you put your goal out there for all to know then you will feel like a failure if you don't reach it. BUT the fact is that you will totally kick a$$ even if you get 3:30 so don't fret :) All of those times are awesome! Can't wait to read your report.

 
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