I’m having a slight crisis of confidence in attaining my goal in this Sunday’s 10k race. The time to beat is 45:04, which I achieved in December 2009 on the same course.

As more of a mid/long distance runner, the 10k isn’t my favorite (unless I’m not racing it)! It’s short enough to be crazy fast, but long enough to really hurt. Nevertheless, like with my hill sessions, I view the 10k as a necessary evil in my training.

In order to break 45 minutes, I have to pace below 7:14 min/mile, which is slightly faster than the tempo pace I have been practicing. I tried 7:13 on the treadmill this morning – at this point in my training cycle, I struggled to imagine myself averaging that pace for 45 minutes. To make things more daunting, the purpose of this training race is to help determine where I stand in my goal to achieve sub-1:37 in my March half marathon. By using a race predictor tool such as this one, I know that I really should be running a sub-44 minute 10k in order to hit sub-1:37, which means pacing around 7:04 min/mile. Yikes.

The one thing that comforts me slightly is the fact that I ran 45:04 in torrential rain and wind, so at least I know that I can’t possibly run in worse conditions. Having just checked the weather, it actually looks like the conditions will be similar – awesome. I’m also reminding myself that although I haven’t yet reached my goal race weight (which is about 4 pounds lighter), I’m stronger from a year of marathon training. I realize that being both lighter AND leaner/stronger is what leads to greater speed, but still, I’m curious to see how my performance will compare to the race I completed just before I started marathon training.

Most importantly, I’m looking back on other times when I struggled with self-doubt and pre-race nerves and yet still succeeded. Take the NYC marathon, for instance: after five months of intense training, it was VERY important to me that I get sub-3:40. I always experience pre-race jitters, especially before such a huge race, but I finally reached a point where I was driving myself crazy and just had to have faith – what more could I do? That race was a massive struggle – but somehow in the last 2-3 miles, as I flipped back and forth between complete apathy and fierce determination, I managed to speed up just enough to sneak in under my goal. And there’s nothing better than being able tell yourself, in a positive way, I told you so!

Not that I haven’t had my share of bad and/or unsuccessful races; I remember a painful half marathon that I ran last February in blinding, freezing rain that resulted in a shin injury – or my first marathon, when I didn’t get my pre-race nutrition quite right and subsequently felt extremely ill for most of the race – how I made it to the finish in either situation, let alone in relatively fast times, continues to astound me! Although these types of experiences are obviously not enjoyable, they serve an important function in reminding me of my resilience.

So, as I consider achieving a new PB this Sunday, I’m also making space for a new goal – to ease off the pressure and simply have faith that I will do my best, based on how I’m feeling on race day. If things don’t go according to plan, as is often the case, it’s not the end of the world. Sure, I’ll be disappointed, but it’s just a training run (and a monthly running club race), so there will always be another opportunity.