I believe this is a question that runs in any competitor’s mind as they approach a target event. In my case it is The Last Desert Antarctica race by Racing The Planet. In a few days I will board the ship to sale across Drake Passage towards this multistage race. It would be my 3rd race in the “4 Deserts” series, so on the face of it I should know by now how “ready” I am.
Physically? Although my training period took place during an extremely stressful time of my life (see previous posts), I feel well prepared. In fact, this is the first time I realize that the saying “the feet remember” works. This brain-muscle memory works, and my longest weekend hours are the most enjoyable.
Psychologically I know I am. The miles in my legs and in my brain have taught me so much. Most importantly I learned flexibility, adjustment, resilience and determination. I learned how to stay calm and recalculate when and if needed, and that whenever I feel the “this is it”, and I have nothing left – there is so much more if you dig deeper. Going through so many running psychology books in the months since the Namibrace, there is also anticipation to the change that this race will bring.
The next question is probably: Ready to what? Am I ready to win? be at my best? enjoy? cope with the challenge? stand on the start line? make my dream come true???… well… podium is an obvious “no” as I never aimed there. It has never been a goal for me – firstly because I am not a good athlete and does not have the basic ability to be there, but also simply because this was not my purpose as I started this journey. As for the other purposes -YES!!!. The more I read about psychology of running and psychological endurance I understand that these other goals are my true victory. One may think it is to prove my mental toughness, but really it is the journey inside that fascinates me.
This specific journey reminds me a very specific image from my early childhood.
On a tree behind our building, we, the kids, put plates of wood to build some kind of an improvised tree house. I remember placing carton cylinders at the side of it imagining they are cannons of a ship. From the top of the tree I was looking foreword across “the ocean” for Spanish fleet ships. Inspired by the stories about sir Francis Drake I could almost feel the sea water spray. And here I am, now, about to cross the Drake passage!
And as for the question – “am I ready” – hell yea! I am.