I haven’t run a lot of races. Since hanging up the cleats in high school, I’ve run 4 races (a 10K, 2 half marathons and one full), and those 4 have been in the last 12 months. The funny thing is that I haven’t had too many jitters going into these races. I knew I wasn’t an elite runner and quite honestly, aside from the marathon, I didn’t really know what I wanted to accomplish in the races.
But this Sunday I will be running the Super Sunday 10K for the second time. It is my first repeat race.
And I am nervous.
Why? It is a race I am familiar with. It is a race I know I can finish. I ran the race last year in a respectable 46:58. It was my first race as an adult, but I am more nervous about it this year than last.
Shouldn’t it be the other way around? In life, when we repeat things, aren’t they supposed to become easier? For the past few years as our elementary school’s PTO President I had to speak to groups of parents both large and small regularly. The first couple of times were nerve-wracking, although that might have something more to do with the fact that the chair I was sitting in before my first speech ripped a dollar size hole in the back of my pants – I had to back my way onto the stage, but that’s another story for another blog. It very quickly became easy, almost second nature speaking to them, no matter how controversial the topic might be.
So why am I nervous? It’s not like I’m not competing for a medal or a prize.
I am nervous because I am competing against myself. I set a standard last year that I hope to improve upon and that scares me a little. What if I don’t beat my time? What if I pull a hamstring and can’t finish? What would that say about all of the running I have done over the past 12 months?
A year ago I was happy just to finish, in part because 6 months earlier I would have laughed at the idea at finishing a 10K in under an hour. A year later, things have changed. I am more competitive – with myself.