TITLE: Crisis of Confidence AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: September 03, 2006 8:39 PM DESC: During my long run today, it occurred to me that I might not have what it takes mentally to excel in my marathon this fall. ----- BODY:

But here you are in the ninth
Two men out and three men on
Nowhere to look but inside
Where we all respond to

-- Billy Joel

I had an abrupt crisis of confidence while running this morning. My legs had just started to feel the miles. Even though I've had good times in training the last few weeks, I pictured myself in the marathon, at that moment when my legs start hurting and I realize that there are still 4 or 6 or 8 or 10 miles, when my resolve is at its lowest and I simply have to gut it out if I want to finish the race strong and meet my goal -- and just then I wondered, maybe I'm just not tough enough mentally to overcome. The prospect those remaining 4 or 6 or 8 or 10 miles suddenly seemed very lonely. The crisis was short-lived. Pretty soon I was thinking the other seemingly random thoughts that tend to fill a 3-hour run. But my earlier thoughts hung around my head like an echo, with the lyrics and uneven melody of Billy Joel's "Pressure" as accompaniment. In that short period, I found myself wishing, almost counterintuitively, for a tough run, or even a bad stretch of training. Last summer went pretty smoothly, and look where that goth me. This year started with hamstring problems and so my training started slower and bit tougher than usual, but lately things have been going pretty well. When I'm on the course in the Twin Cities and my resolve bottoms out, will I have what it takes to gut it out? In that short period, I found myself thinking of my friend Greg who is training to run Twin Cities with me. He lives in Arkansas, where summer is brutal on a marathon runner. Constant heat and unbearable humidity add to the hilly terrain to make every long run a chore. Greg's work schedule makes training even tougher, as almost he has to run in the middle of the night if he wants to get his miles in. As a result, he is worried that he won't be ready for the marathon. My counterintuitive thought was, maybe he'll be better prepared than I am for handling that "moment of truth" during the race; he'll have faced hard, painful runs all summer long. How is that for my egocentrism and feeling sorry for myself? I guess a really long run on a rainy, dreary day can do that to the best of us. Once I moved on to my next thoughts, the idea that Greg somehow benefits from his current suffering seems foolish, just the sort of foolishness that someone who has had it easy sometimes indulges in. The bottom line is that I have to find the resolve when I need it. All the rest is just excuses.

Don't ask for help
You're all alone
You'll have to answer to your own

-- Billy Joel