Every other week or so my daughter tells me about her "belly feeling," which she gets as she turns the corner into the swimming pool parking lot, for example, or when she is preparing for some nerve-inducing situation which she knows she has to and will survive, but which she finds stressful and scary. I tell her we all get that feeling every now and then, and that I can still remember feeling that way every single time I went into the Wakefield YMCA lobby and smelled the chlorine wafting up from the pool area ... and I wasn't even on the swim team.
Yesterday I woke up with the belly feeling that I'm afraid just isn't going away any time soon. I'm trying to prevent it from turning into a full-blown panic, though, as I can see Panic literally looming just over the edge of my hold on control. It's not just the fact that the Marine Corps Marathon is in four short days. There's a lot of other things cooking these days. Lots of deadlines, lots of appointments, lots of telephone calls, and lots of different pots in the fire, for all of us. Add the swine flu updates to the mix (11 pediatric deaths last week alone, most of them adolescents) and the nerve meter ratchets up even further. I anticipated October, and much of the fall, being this way, but no matter how well I planned for it, it's inevitable that sometimes life IS nerve-inducing. I wish I were one of Those People who seem to Go With The Flow. But, I'm not.
SO, What to Do, What to Do. The only solution I've found is preparation (I tried avoidance, and it's just not going to work in this situation -- though I did get several birthday cards mailed and all my outstanding thank-you's mailed as well!). I spent two hours yesterday viewing the MCM website and downloading what I considered essential information. For example, before yesterday, I didn't even know what time the race actually started -- after researching this, the information I found is still conflicting with one part of the site indicating 8:00 a.m., and another part indicating 8:15 a.m. So, you can see, the belly feeling Was somewhat justified. I spent time checking out exactly where the Start and Finish are, to determine if our hotel is as close as I hoped; yes, it is, though it's still one metro stop away from the Start. I then called the hotel to confirm (for the 3d time, because I just can't rely 100% on email confirmations ...) that one of our rooms had two double beds; this time, to my surprise, they told me "No." I just about went ballistic, until the Front Desk Manager quickly recanted -- after the pitch of my voice rose higher than the pitch of my kitchen fire alarm -- which went off several times yesterday after I burnt the rice for the dog food. She quickly assured me that double beds would be waiting. I downloaded airplane confirmations, began planning my outfit for that day, and generally did all I could to prepare for the weekend.
Despite all my preparation, I still woke up with the belly feeling this morning. Sucks. I know I'll get through the race, and I know I won't completely embarrass myself. So, what's the problem? I think it's just my nature to get nervous. I've always been a planner, and with the planning comes the nerves. As long as my nerves don't cause me to collapse in a puddle somewhere or cause my legs to seize up, I should be fine. Now, as I sit here writing this piece, my belly is getting tighter and tighter (and not in a good way, as in, say, 6-pack abs); clearly, writing about this isn't quelling my nerves. So, right now, I'm going running, just to prove to myself that I can still put one foot in front of the other in a forward direction and not fall apart. Check back in with me on Tuesday, and I'll fill you in on the hopefully-not-too-gory details.