As someone who typically gets incredibly nervous before races, I expected to feel extremely nervous on the start line of the women’s marathon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, held this past summer (23 Jul-8 Aug, 2021) in Japan. After all, I was standing among the world’s best runners — all of them primed and ready to run their best.
Instead of nerves, I felt calm, prepared and grateful . I was ready to chase my goal by focussing on what I could control in the race and was ready to accept a range of outcomes.
The race started out pedestrian by our standards, and gradually picked up around the halfway mark. With a humidex at equivalent to 40°C, it was imperative that I respect the conditions, and trust my body to perform as it had so many times in the past.
When the pack started to splinter around 18 km, I knew that my kryptonite would be patience. My mantra “patience is power” would be the difference between literally blowing up and a successful race.
I suffered the last seven kilometres as my body and legs screamed at me to stop and walk, but I knew I had to keep moving one step in front of the other. I did everything I could to keep moving — I threw ice on my head and down my top, drank fluids and took gels.
During the dark moments, I channelled my thoughts back to feelings of gratitude and thought of all the people who supported me in the years and months leading into this race. I thought about my two young boys — their initials scribbled with permanent marker on my hands — and how I wanted to make them proud of my efforts.
Despite my own pain, I managed to pass ten people in the final 10 km of the race, inching closer and closer to my top-10 goal. I would say that I was elated when I crossed the line in 9th place, but mostly I was exhausted.
After I recovered, I realized again how important it is to set goals, but that enjoying the process is the most rewarding part of it all.
I can’t wait to do it all over again!
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