You know that feeling you get when you’re working up the nerve to ask someone out? Where you can feel the clockwork in your brain gearing from one function to another while the blood pumps through your hands at such a rate, it seems you could click your chopsticks together to find a housefly pinched between them recalling each of the faces of his 500 children before he heads to that great trash heap in the sky? I’ve got that, the feeling of near panic mixed with equal parts trepidation and glee where the brain recognizes the body’s about to endure an ordeal and has initiated a shot of adrenaline.
Don’t get anxious. I’m not facing any danger…yet. I’ve just finished packing my bags for a weekend trip to Niagara with the wife and a few friends. No, we’re not having an intervention. No, I’m not crossing the border to disappear into the Canadian wilderness. My friends and I are going for a run. A 50K. Thirty-one miles. On foot. In one go.
I teach eighth-grade English, so I’m used to people looking at me with incredulity seasoned with pity, and when I’ve shared my weekend plans, people’s reactions seem all too familiar.
“You’re going to do what?”
“I could do that. In my car!”
“Are you ready?”
That last question is the most pertinent as well as the most difficult to answer. I’ve run marathons before, including a marathon-distance training run just a few weeks ago, and the 50K is only five miles further than that, but I don’t know if I’m ready or not. This weekend will see me start my first ultramarathon, but I’m not certain I’ll finish.
Have I trained harder for this than any race I’ve done prior?
Have I been getting plenty of sleep and kept myself hydrated?
Is there a pain in my right foot, and did I experience a twinge in my left calf on a run not too long ago, hearkening back to injuries I suffered fours years ago that put me on crutches?
Why, yes. That’s an oddly specific question. You’re very perceptive.
That’s what’s got me nervous. Have I pushed my body too far, and instead of building it up for this race, have I pushed it to the point where it’s going to crumble beneath me?
I don’t know; no one does.
There’s only one way to find out.