Day 849: Winning Anxiety

Sure, I do like prizes but I also like ton run without having anything on stake. Anything but my own personal best. I always want a new PB. But when the start list contains name of women who I know are faster than me, I can somewhat relax. Nothing big at stake, just my own little personal goals. I do want to enter the big game, yes please, but I might not be ready for it yet. Mostly, mentally.

Day 849, December 22, Saturday. One of the last races in Estonian race calendar before the year ends. In winter, hardly anyone takes training too seriously. It is semi-rest time. Because of the snow and the cold, the speed is never the same as in summer. Everyone knows this and accepts it. The “old year race” is simply something fun to do because in December (and November and January and February) there are not many races at all. This is one of the last chances to test yourself. There’s the marathon for the crazy ones, the team relay (5 x 8.4 km) and the individual race (8.4 km). I’ve mostly participated in the individual race but once also in the team relay (we won!). This year, I did the individual race again.

Most of the fast women were doing the team relay so I could at least dream of some kind of prize. Not too much competition. However, the starting list left me somewhat uneasy. A friend of mine who is about 15 minutes than me in marathon and 5 minutes faster in half-marathon was participating in the individual race. But I did know that I could stand a chance against her if the distance was up to 10K.

The race started and I was off as the first woman. I did realise that the pace was too fast and could burn me out but I wanted to get a head-start. After all, it started on tarmac which was not slippery. The majority of the path was snowy and tougher anyway. And did I mention that it was freaking cold, around -10 degrees?

During the first kilometre, I heard her breathing behind me. At least, I think it was her. It was a woman’s breathing. I didn’t dare to look back. I didn’t want to know how close she was. I was sure that if she passed me, I would be unable to adapt to her pace and get past her again. I didn’t want to look back, I didn’t want to hear her breathing. Funnily enough, she once said that she hated the sound of someone’s breathing and would even slow down and let the person pass. Halfway through the race, I passed the drink station and was reassured that I was the first woman. I tried to listen to the volunteers shouting “2nd woman!”. If I had heard them do it, I would have known that she was close. Still, I refused to look back. A weird anxiety started to grow inside me. How long shall I last? Will I really win? This race? What if I can’t go on anymore? In fact, it was quite unlikely that I wouldn’t be able to continue. I am a long-distance runner. I can manage such a short race. Even with such a horribly cold weather.

I ran quite alone most of the time. There were some men around me but our paces didn’t really match. In the second half, I was calculating the percentage of distance left. And then there was the last curve, the last straight line, the finish line. I was there first. Finally. A major-ish win. The 1st woman out of 95 women. Overall position: 19th of 231 runners.

I guess, some anxiety is actually good. When I was doing my warm-up run, I realised that I am in a pretty good shape. I felt light and fast, or, as fast as one can feel when it is so cold. When I went to the start line, I even felt a bit sick. I was anxious, knowing I might as well win. Afraid that maybe someone faster was there too. But anxiety produces adrenaline and could make you go quicker. Maybe this is what kept me moving forward and forward.

Progress Report

1. Own and live in a house.

It was a very long day in Tallinn. We left home around 9.30 am because my husband did the team relay and his starting time was around 11.30 am (their team won, by the way). My start was 1 pm, the award ceremony was after 2 pm. Then I showered and got dressed, we left the race place after 3 pm. Visited a friend’s workplace where my husband did a bit of therapy on her neck. By 6 pm, we had refilled our fuel tank and parked the car in the city centre (my very 1st time!) and gone to our running club’s Christmas party. We left there around 10.30 pm, by the time of which I was exhausted (but still had to drive home in the dark). We were home around 11.30 pm. Obviously, I didn’t work or earn money in any way. Oh, actually, I did get some prizes. Some promotional bullshit and some useful stuff (photo on Instagram as well). There was also some shampoo. At least, I will save some money because I don’t have to buy shampoo.

2. Write AND publish a book.

See above. No time for this.

3. Win a major race.

Ha! I did win a race but it wasn’t that big. Let’s say, my bigger goal is to win when all the fast women are also running. But… it’s still kind of great. All results here.

Photo of the Day

Future winners of the 8.4 km individual race at the starting line. Leo was the fastest man and I was the fastest woman. Obviously, not the sexiest clothes but tried to stay warm!
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