The gun goes bang. The crowd surges forward. Adrenaline surges around your body as the crowd’s cheers spur you forward. You feel like you are going backwards, everyone is flying past you. Shit. Is my pace wrong? Should I push on with them or stay strong? They were in my pen for target time so why are they going so much faster? Shit. No GPS watch to check the pacing, knew I should have bought one.
This is the make or break moment, the moment where you can derail your race within the first mile. I think of myself as a confident, strong person yet this is exactly the thought process that was going through my head at the start of the marathon at the weekend. All that work and planning yet a few people running past me and I was immediately questioning my plans. How crazy is that?
Yet unless you’re expecting to be pushing for the podium your race really is you. You’re the one that matters and you are your competition. In fact I might well get that tattooed on my arm to look at whenever I do a race to just remind me. It’d also make a great slogan for a running clothing company, perhaps I should trademark it?
I wonder what percent of runners in each marathon throw their race plans out within those first 100 metres simply because they give in to peer pressure? I bet it’s huge especially for first time marathoner’s who are already nervous. Marathon running is definitely a mental challenge and none more so than at the start.
I’m very happy that I managed to stay cool and stick with my pacing plan even on the second lap when I tagged onto the back of a group only to realise that they were going 20 seconds a mile or so too fast for me. I backed off and stuck with my plan even though it meant running on my own. With my attention now turning to my first ultra that mental strength is going to be much needed I think.