For as long as I can remember being involved in distance running, I have always had terrible trouble sleeping the night before an event. One of the first races I really set myself for was the Bruny Island Ultra in 2014 and I can still remember lying awake for hours, nervously thinking about all the things that could go wrong. I finally did fall asleep, but only for a few hours, only to wake hours before my alarm and after a fruitless period trying to get back to sleep, I eventually got up an hour earlier than planned.
Not much has changed in the intervening years. No matter how well prepared I am or how early I go to sleep, it always takes forever for sleep to arrive. And without fail, I always wake well before my alarm with no chance of getting back to sleep.
But the night before my most recent race at this year's Sydney Marathon, something was different.
A little spoiler alert- for once I’m not talking about fatherhood (much as I would love to digress onto that topic once more).
As I always do, I laid out my gear for the following morning, set my redundant alarm and went to bed early, expecting the nerves to come at any moment. They didn’t.
Wondering why I wasn’t nervous kept me awake for a while anyway and as I thought about this. I realised I just wasn’t worried about something going wrong. Not because I was sure it wouldn’t- after all it was only three months ago that things had gone very wrong for me at The Gold Coast Marathon.
But instead of making me more afraid Gold Coast had the effect of reminding me that I can have a bad race and I’ll get over it pretty quickly. Aside from a serious injury, the worst case scenario was nothing to be afraid of and the more likely scenario was that I was going to have an incredible day that I would remember for a long time to come. This gave me an unexpected sense of freedom to look forward to the day with unbridled excitement and enthusiasm, as well as a sense of gratitude that I had such an amazing group of supportive, funny and inspirational friends to share the experience with.
With all that excitement I still didn’t sleep that well. I remember as a kid, going to bed the night before my birthday and desperately wanting to fall asleep so I could wake up the following morning; and this was not a dissimilar feeling. But eventually sleep came and after that the much-anticipated race.
I feel very lucky to be able to enjoy these events so much.