Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Night Before Your Race


It’s the night before I run my leg of the FedEx Ground Pittsburgh Marathon Relay, and I’m anxious. I can’t sit still but I know I need to rest. I’m drinking water and I know I should eat, but I’m a little nervous. I just don’t feel that hungry. I’m excited about tomorrow, but also edgy. What if something unexpected happens? Will I be strong enough to get through the day? I think about the people who love me and will cheer for me, and I feel better.

This feeling is familiar to runners and to moms who have given birth. That’s because nesting and tapering are the same thing.

For some reason when I was pregnant, it irked me when people accused me of nesting. I am not obsessive about cleaning, but I do like to organize whether I’m pregnant or not. But when a pregnant woman goes about organizing baby’s items, the cans and spices in the kitchen, her home office, the books in her library, the tools in the garage, the magazines in the bathroom…maybe that was nesting.

Nesting for runners is called tapering. Don’t try to deny it, it’s the same thing. (Do you think it's just a weird coincidence runners wear bibs??)

OK, there are some small differences. Pregnancy lasts around forty weeks but many women don’t know they are pregnant until they are six to eight weeks along, so on average women experience about 32 weeks of pregnancy. Training for a marathon can take up to twenty weeks, especially for newbies who want to actually enjoy the experience. Since most people don’t (usually) start training for marathon without knowing it, but may be thinking about it for a long time (pre-contemplation stage), it’s not too crazy to argue that pregnancy and marathon training can last a similar amount of time.

The last two weeks of being pregnant involves a lot of sitting around, feeling restless, getting spurts of energy and making sure everything is ready, and waiting for the Big Day. And the last two weeks of training involve a lot of sitting around, feeling restless, getting spurts of energy to make sure everything is ready, and waiting for the Big Day.

Nesting for me involved packing my hospital bag and laying out exactly what I wanted. I’d need a headband, lip balm, comfortable socks, my favorite water bottle, the right top for nursing, my favorite pajama pants, and a camera to capture those special moments. Tapering for me involves packing my race bag and laying out exactly what I want. I need a headband, sunglasses, lip balm, comfortable socks, my water bottle, the right top and shorts, and a camera to capture those special moments.

Nesting meant making sure the house was tidy so when I came home with my new baby I could rest and not stress about clutter. Tapering meant making sure the house was tidy so when I came home with my new medal I could rest and not stress about clutter.

Nesting involved prepping my favorite foods to enjoy in the first few days home. Tapering involves picking a fun restaurant for my post-race meal and making sure I bring home leftovers.

Nesting involved buying a celebratory bottle of wine! Tapering involves deciding on my celebratory cocktail!

Nesting involved reassuring myself I had done everything I needed to do during pregnancy. I’d read all the books, did my Kegels and stretches and exercises, talked to experienced friends and nurses, gotten enough rest and visualized how I hoped my day would go. Tapering involves reassuring myself I’ve done everything I needed to do during training. I’d read all the books, done the strength work and distance work and speed work, talked to experienced friends and coaches, gotten enough rest and visualized how I hoped my day would go.

Nesting also involved snapping at people who cared about me, then crying about it. Tapering can involve snapping at people who care about me, then crying about it.

Nesting involved some moments of fear and doubt. Tapering involved some moments of fear and doubt. And I know when it's all over I won't look as good in the photos as I feel.

It’s almost show time. Do I have what it takes to deliver?