As many of you are aware I just spent 16 weeks training for Napa. 16 weeks is a long time, 4 months to be exact. When you pour that much time and effort into something it’s hard not to mentally freak out before a race. However, I run my best when I don’t have high expectations and I just go in relaxed and ready to have fun but see what I can do.
My running friends know this first hand and probably hate me for it. I notoriously say, oh yeah I am not sure I am going to race it, I am not really feeling it. Then the day comes and the gun goes off and I am gone. It’s like a switch is flipped, my competitive side always comes out. I can’t not try my best, I don’t know why I keep pretending I know how to hold back.
Anyway, for Napa I was nervous I would freak out. The first time I raced it in 2015 I was a mess. My family can attest to this, I barely spoke the night before and felt sick to my stomach. My whole family had come across the country to join me, what if I didn’t finish? What if I failed? The what if’s kill me. Really I should be asking myself, what if I succeed? Also, side note my parents wouldn’t have cared they were just happy to have wine in Napa!
This time I came without my family and had my best friend with me and her boyfriend. I hadn’t seen them in months so even though I was anxious for my race, exploring and having fun with them I quickly realized was my first priority. As my boyfriend told me when I would mention being scared or worried for my race, “just live Jules”. So, that I did.
When I travel for races I hesitate to go on adventures before the race because I feel like I should be bedridden in preparation for the big day. But that isn’t realistic! That would just lead me to have regrets. I didn’t want that. Who knows when I would return to Napa. I quickly realized it’s about balance.
I think it’s all or nothing for too many people. I sat on the bus for my first marathon and listened to people talk about how they gave up alcohol for their whole training cycle or sugar. I silently freaked out because I had gone wine tasting with my family the day before. Immediately I had regrets and second thoughts on how I would do. Will I not run well because I enjoy wine and dark chocolate? No! This may work for some people but it doesn’t work for me. I love my wine and chocolate it helps me relax and being relaxed helps me be the best athlete I can be.
I am first to admit I had a wine filled weekend before my race. I was in Napa with my best friend since first grade, I wasn’t going to pass that up. Honestly I slept better that night than I ever have before a race and didn’t even have time to over analyze the race or get inside my head. I think I owe a lot of my success in the race to that. With a race as long as the marathon you can get into your head, the mental race is harder than the physics race.
My friend who accompanied me to the wineries and biked the last 5k of the marathon with me suggested I write this post about balance. She knows first hand I was probably sweating wine in that race, but I woke up determined and believed in myself. My mental game was strong and that ultimately pulled me through to the end. I have no regrets at all and had one of the best weekend trips of my life. So the moral of my story is everything doesn’t need to be so black and white. Feel free to do what works for you, regardless of what other runners do and make sure you find time to just live, be present and enjoy the adventures in life.
Up next: my new goals for the upcoming year!!