Local Runner's Prerace Jitters Arrive Earlier Than Expected



A local man was surprised late last night by the arrival of prerace jitters—nine weeks before race day.

Michael Rourke, 34, is registered for the Bellingham Bay (Washington) Marathon, on September 30. Rourke, a veteran of five marathons and several half-marathons and 5Ks, said he expected to deal with the usual prerace anxiety for his fall marathon. Just not this soon.

"It hit me at 10:34 p.m.," he said. "I know the exact time because I looked at the clock." 

Rourke's jitters came out of nowhere, he said.

"One minute I'm lying there, trying to get to sleep, just thinking about my day and stuff," he said. "Then all of a sudden, I'm picturing myself at the starting line of my race, totally unprepared, and a wave of panic hits me."

"I was, like, Really? Prerace jitters? Two months before the [expletive] race?"

Rourke said the fact that he's finished several marathons already did nothing to diminish his anxiety. Nor did reminding himself how well his training has been going for this particular race.

"What if I train too much?" Rourke recalls worrying. "What if I start too fast and hit the wall way too early, like around mile 14? What if I oversleep and miss the start altogether?"

"Oh my God," he said, continuing his recollection, "how am I supposed to run 26.2 miles at marathon pace when my longest long run will be 21 miles, at a much slower pace?!?"

Rourke eventually managed to fall asleep, he said—some two hours after the jitters overtook him. Even while sleeping, he said, he dreamed it was race day and he was miles away, struggling to tie his running shoes, as he heard the starter's gun fire. As a result, he said, he's "feeling pretty groggy."

"Maybe tonight I'll get to bed earlier," he said. "Or later. Or maybe I'll try a sleeping pill."

He sighed.

"I don't know, man," he said. "Maybe I'll just take up cycling."