I'm a mere ten days away from my Boston Qualifying attempt. There's been some peaks and valleys along the way (both literally and metaphorically), but I'm incredibly pleased with the training I've put in. Even though I had some doubts early on, I've slimmed down to my lowest weight since high school and my times have continued to decrease (despite my earlier concerns). I've put in more 18+ mile runs than any point in my training and have logged far more miles than I ever had in preparation for a race. I was even able to match part of the Boston Marathon on Monday to help cement a visual of what I'm working toward.
But it's still doesn't mean that I'm without fear. I'm still afraid to fail.
This is somewhat silly because virtually everything I've accomplished in life has been the result of taking risk in the shadow of failure. Yet I'm coming to believe that this risk actually carries more weight than nearly all the others I've ever attempted.
That's a bold statement but hear me out: it's not that I believe that attempting to BQ is the most monumental task I've ever tried to accomplish. It's just that few have ever had such a defined measure of success or failure. Even more, fewer have rested on a particular moment as this one does
A couple of examples of previous risks I've taken to put this in context: first, undertaking my doctoral program. I invested a lot of time and money in that process. And I put forth an immense amount of effort to get the work done. But even if I hadn't met my original deadlines, I could have merely paid an extension and taken another stab at it the following semester. And I knew that, if I put in the effort, I had the aptitude to complete the program.
A second example: starting Echo. We risked much when my pregnant wife and I moved to the city, me forgoing a consistent paycheck, to start our fellowship. I didn't see it that way at the time (maybe my arrogance hid the fears), but it wasn't quite as risky as I imagined. Even though I visualized this jump as one without a parachute, asserting our unwavering commitment to the cause, I knew I could always find work in some industry if it fell through. As long as I had a realistic view of success (the church still exists almost twelve years later), I knew we could win on this risk.
In contrast, attempting to Boston Qualify is a once (or at the most twice) a year deal. And it could be much less if some sort of injury comes my way. I've committed four solid months (in addition to the past nine years of running) to this goal. If I don't meet it this Saturday, then I'm back at square one. I'd have to put in the time again, still with no guarantee of success.
That's the source of my fear . . . or perhaps more accurately, my anxiousness.
I'll still run in the following days, but my body is as prepped as can be; in fact, gains in running usually take six weeks to kick in, so any work I do now will have little affect on my performance (research tapering before a marathon, and you'll get a better idea of what I'm talking about). Over the next week and a half, it's about me getting right between my ears. I need to be confident that I've done the work and mentally prepared to give it all during the race.
And, as I've occasionally considered throughout this time, I might need to grapple with failure to reach my ultimate goal. If that's the result, I'm sure I'll have gleaned numerous lessons throughout the process, but I'm still grateful that I'm taking the risk. And I'm thankful to have the space to articulate these fears so I can remember them after the fact.
Until then, it's all about positive thinking.