very cool image from here
There's a difference between being a little nervous before a race, and having heart-pounding palpitations, dry heaves, and a massive feeling of dread. Nerves, I can take and work through, especially with the distractions of race-day excitement. Anxiety, however, was horrible, and it stayed with me throughout most of my races, which made the experience not fun at all. It's something that I wouldn't wish on anyone.
I was going to link to some of the race reports where I've written about getting race anxiety, but as I went back through them, there were too many to list, which is saying a lot. If you want to hear more, just click my running tab above and read through any of the race recaps from previous years. No matter how much I tried to calm myself down before the race, or convince myself that there was nothing to get so worked up about, more often than not I'd end up feeling horribly anxious.
Because I didn't have anxiety in other areas of my life, I didn't seek out professional help; I mean, why do that when I could just suffer for years every time I raced? I know, not the smartest way to go, probably, but I just didn't want to give the race anxiety any more time than it already was getting, if that makes sense. Plus I only had so much extra money, and I wanted to spend it on race entry fees rather than doctor copays. Of course, those race entries usually meant race anxiety, but I never said I was the sharpest crayon in the box.
So here's the thing: I'm not going to say it's gone, but I've run four races this year and the only race anxiety I experienced was the morning of the race I wasn't running - go figure. I never had a good reason as to why the race anxiety appeared, and I don't have a good one for why it seems to have disappeared, but I'm incredibly relieved to not have had to deal with it lately...and by lately, I mean since 2012. Yeah, that's a long time to randomly get race anxiety; maybe it has finally expired, much like that unopened box of crackers stuffed in the back of my pantry.
All I can tell you is that life sure is a lot easier when the hardest thing about running a race is actually running the race.