I am strong. I have trained. I got this.

I am strong. I have trained. I got this.
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The nightmare was vivid. I was running the Santa Rosa Marathon. Finally. After months of hard work, I was going after my number-one goal of the year: run 3:35 or less and qualify for Boston. I had trained. I could do this. I was doing it!

Then I ran into the first obstacle, a series of monkey-bar rings I had to go through, American Ninja Warrior style, before continuing my run. It took forever and I had to really push the pace afterwards to catch up on time. Then another obstacle showed up: pull-ups. Miraculously, I managed a single one and carried on, crossing the half marathon mark at 1:52 and knowing full well that my goal was now out of reach.

I woke up in cold sweat.

And so fear of failure has reared its ugly head.

I’m no stranger to pre-race anxiety and doubt — I think few people are. When you set a goal, the doubts are inevitable: can I do it? Will I do it?

Part of this is fear of the unknown. If you’re training for your first marathon, you’re scared of the distance. If you’re training for a specific time, you’re questioning your ability to maintain the pace.

And a small, but strong part of it is simply being human. We have doubts and insecurities. We overanalyze every little detail of a run that failed to meet a goal time. We shrug off the runs that we nail — because, oh well, I did it now, but can I do it again?

Or maybe it’s just me.

Two weeks until the Santa Rosa Marathon, and I am tired and a little bit scared. We just came back from a three-week overseas trip, so add to that jet lag, too. (Today, I woke up at 2:30 a.m. I will probably take a five-hour nap in the early afternoon, then attempt another normal bedtime… before waking up at 3:30 tomorrow. It takes a day for each hour of time difference to adapt, so hopefully by the middle of race week I’ll be fine!)

A photo posted by Aleks Todorova (@aleksruns) on

Our trip was fabulous. The beach was perfect, and so was the mountain. But the weather was hot and humid, and I suffered through several miserable runs, failing to make goal pace by a long stretch.

A photo posted by Aleks Todorova (@aleksruns) on

But you know what? I have been running my butt off. I have a coach who has trained me through PRs at every single distance I’ve attempted this year: 1:42 in the half marathon (seven minutes off my time last year!), a 44-minute 10K and a 5K PR (and first-place female) at a local run just two weeks ago.

A photo posted by Aleks Todorova (@aleksruns) on

I trust my training. I trust the process.

I’ve run 50-mile weeks consistently for the past several weeks and today, despite jet lag and the fatigue buildup in my legs, I nailed the goal pace on my 12-miler. (Of course, I wonder now whether Coach D prescribed a slower pace to reflect all those sluggish runs of the past few weeks… See? Human. Doubt.)

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All I have to do now, is trust myself. And so, if you’re human like me, look the ugly face of self doubt in the eye and repeat:

I am strong. I got this. I have trained.