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One week into the new year, and my next big running event seems remarkably close. It’s still three more months before I attempt the Umstead 100 again, but it feels like it’s right around the corner. Where am I with my running confidence?

This sense of urgency came up quickly, and last night my mind went into full-on race planning mode. Detailed questions about logistics and race day strategy kept popping into my head, demanding my immediate and undivided attention:

  • What am I going to wear? (I didn’t do a good job dealing with last year’s cold temps)
  • How am I going to pace my first 50 miles?
  • What am I going to do in terms of fueling and hydration? (I didn’t make good use of Aid Station 2 last year.)
  • How can I keep myself from spending too much time at the main aid station after each lap?
  • What else am I going to do differently this year?

Fortunately, this morning it occurred to me that the best thing for my race prep has nothing to do with coming up with a different plan from how I tried to run the race in 2015.

No, I think it’s more important to realize that I’m a different runner (and a different person) than I was a year ago. I ran a lot last year, and while I didn’t accomplish everything I had hoped to, I’m stronger than I was 12 months ago — both mentally and physically.

Going into last year’s race, I was optimistic. This year, I’m feeling confident.

My “running confidence” isn’t being confident that I’ll finish. There are simply too many things that could go wrong between now and then, and plenty of things that could go wrong on race day. So I don’t think it’s appropriate to be “confident” that I’ll finish. There are too many variables and unknowns, and running 100 miles is hard.

Rather, I’m confident that I have the tools and potential to finish. I’m confident that I can be smarter this year in how I run. I’m confident that when I feel like dropping out, I’ll be able to drag myself back out onto the course. I’m confident that I’ll be able to put forth my best effort, and that that might be enough to get me to the finish.