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Friday, May 11, 2012

Cold Feet

I've always meant to look up the etymology of that phrase.

I assume it has something to do with the idea that running away from something would warm them up, but I'm not exactly sure. Also, I'm aware of the fact that I now sit at a computer with the collective intelligence of the universe available at my fingertips, but I'm still not looking it up. I like my definition, so I'll go with that.

The reason I find it interesting is that, at least for me, I find that cold feet rather inhibit running, instead of encouraging it. For example, if you happen to be out running in the pre-dawn light the morning after a heavy downpour and, in an effort to avoid a deep puddle, happen to step into a deeper one, the ensuing jolt of cold doesn't exactly tell your body to keep moving. Instead, it says, "Please tell me you brought extra socks."

Another example might be running a fall or winter race, say, in Virginia in October. When the gun fires, you start to cut through the 40 degree air, and find that, because you spent all that money on nicely ventilated shoes, you're running on two blocks of ice where your feet used to be. It may, in that completely hypothetical situation, take two miles or more before you can feel your toes, which honestly might be for the best. Regardless, nothing about this situation makes me want to run toward or away from anything. It makes me want to find a warm spot and stand on it. Forever.

But the phrase has larger meaning for me now than just the irritating squish of every other step that I had to endure this morning. On the eve of my final run before my taper, I'm feeling the familiar butterflies that crop up every time I'm approaching a big race.

Certainly, I've trained harder and more completely for this race than for any other that I have completed. By the end of May, I will have run more miles in preparation for this race than I have for any two races I've completed. I know that I can run for three hours without stopping, and I know that my goal pace feels comfortable for an extended period of time. Intellectually, I know that all of the pieces are in place, and once I've tapered my miles, my rested, excited body will be ready to take off. Operation Qualify is right on schedule.

Even with all this information, I can't help but be a little nervous. I've always said that if you're not nervous, it's because you don't care, so these feelings of mild terror and the nightmares I have of having to sleep on tile floors the night before the race are merely indicators of how important this race is to me. They're to be expected, but that doesn't make them any nicer.

This is where you trust your training. You look at all the miles you've done and you tell yourself that you've truly done all that you could. You were strong when you needed to be and smart when you had to be. Now is the time to give yourself to the taper and enjoy the rest of the ride.

That is, after 20 miles tomorrow.

Friday's workout:
63 degrees, wet and dark
7.93 miles

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