I chose the name of a song by REM for today's entry because it fits perfectly. In my last entry I briefly mentioned pre-race nightmares as one of my "running neuroses." Since running my first half-marathon back in 1991, I've found that these pre-race dreams are a good thing. When I have at least one, I do well in a race. It's when I don't have them that something goes wrong during a race. My record is three before a race. A couple of days ago I just had my first nightmare before the Muenchener Stadtlauf (Munich City Run) half-marathon, which will be on the 27th. My pre-race dreams fall into several categories:
1) Not knowing where the starting line is or where the race will be held. In real life that has never happened. I always scout out where the start will be, where to get my number, where to park, where to leave my bag, etc. in advance. By the time race day rolls around, I know exactly where to go. I remember one dream where my friend Charlie and I were supposed to run a race together. He knew where the start was, but I didn't. He was sleeping and wouldn't wake up no matter what I did, and race time was getting closer.
2) Being late for the start or totally missing it. I've never missed a race start, mainly because I show up to a race very early. I always give myself plenty of time to use the Porta-Potties, stretch, and generally get my head into the race. In many of my dreams I made it to the starting line only to find that all of the other runners were long gone. In my latest dream, runners were only allowed to register just before the race. There were hundreds of people in front of me, very few people to handle the registration, and it was just a few minutes before the start.
3) Getting lost on the course or running on a very strange course. I'm a middle of the pack runner, so I follow the people in front of me and hope they're all going the right way. So far that strategy has worked. I've had dreams where the course went through houses and even one where the course went through Disneyland's Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.
4) Finishing dead last or so far back that the organizers are packing everything away. So far that never happened to me. My biggest fear before my first half-marathon was finishing last, which my running partner assured me wouldn't happen (it didn't).
5) Wearing inappropriate clothing. In one of my more memorable pre-race nightmares, I was in the starting area and happened to look down at my feet. Instead of my usual running shoes, I was wearing pink bunny slippers!
Pre-race nightmares are a way of working out any anxiety that I may have about an upcoming race. When I wake up from one, I know that the situation in my dreams would not really happen. I also feel relieved about having a pre-race nightmare because I know that nothing will go wrong in my next race. Even though my training for my upcoming half-marathon has been going very well, my pre-race nightmare will give me a little psychological boost.