Embracing the Pressure
I was recently interviewed by a newspaper, and one particular question has resonated with me ever since. It really made me stop and think. The question went something like this: “Do you feel more pressure now that you are among one of the fastest female American marathoners? If so, how do you handle that pressure?” Well, okay, that’s technically two questions, but you get the gist.
I thought this question was particularly applicable to where I’m at right now as I prepare to begin my 2013 racing season this weekend at the US Half Marathon Championships in Duluth, Minnesota. This is my first race since my marathon debut, and I can’t wait to get back out there. But I also feel the pressure and expectation now tagging along beside me.
When a rock has immense pressure applied directly above it, the rock can crumble. However, if that same pressure is redirected at a different angle, the rock can be propelled like a bullet from a gun. It is all a matter of how you apply that pressure. Pressure can help you perform at your highest level….to dig down deep in order to reach your fullest capabilities. Well, that is, if you don’t let it crush you.
I like the pressure; it is part of what makes racing so exciting! And if you don’t get nervous, then it’s not important enough. Words like ‘pressure’ and ‘nerves’ get a bad rap, but it’s those things that bring out the best in you. So yes, I have additional expectations and pressure on me because of my marathon performance from last year, but I embrace it. In fact, I revel in it. However, there is a caveat. In spite of these new expectations, in my heart I still see myself as the underdog. I’ve always been a bit of a scrapper, and some things never change.