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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A New Day

What a day yesterday.  The pre-race roller coaster is quite a ride; sometimes it's great fun, other times you wonder why you got into this triathlon stuff at all.

You know, up until that crazy-@ss brick on Sunday, I was feeling pretty darned good; in fact I never once questioned whether or not I'd make 8 hours; in fact I was shooting for 7:30!  I have one not-so-good and challenging workout, and I let myself fall apart?  

OC always says triathlon is 90% mental and on Sunday the mental won and that is precisely why we push ourselves to do these crazy kinds of challenges in our training.  These challenges are supposed to make you nervous and get you to focus on your weaknesses for the remainder of the time.

I suppose anyone can train to swim/bike/run physically, but it's the mental strength and tenacity that gets you to the finish, and we all know the pride outlasts the pain. :)

So I'm not going to worry about things I can't control.  The more I do that, the lesser experience I will have.  I'm not going to worry about who I *might* let down if I have a bad race.  I'm not going to let anyone down by FINISHING.

By yesterday afternoon I couldn't talk about the race without tearing up; I know... real half-ironman-athlete-ish, right?  AND in front of the boys!  You never cry in front of the boys.

Unfortunately, or fortunately as it would turn out, I ran into a couple club friends at the track and all I could say when the asked what was wrong was, "I'm not in a good mental place."  I tried to do my track workout but really it was just a self-deprecating fest for the first hour; me vs. the ugly in my head.

That is, until one of them asked, "Is there anything I can do to help?"

Once someone shows empathy, I'm done.  Stick a fork in me! "T" is a well-respected triathlete and has done his share of halfs and fulls, so he's got some wisdom.   :)

Basically T just talked logic to me and it was all I could do not to turn into a full-on faucet.  All the things he said I knew already, but refused to hear in my head.  All of them the very things MC's were telling me throughout the day yesterday.

T:  "Have you ever DNF'd?"
Me:  "No and I don't want to start now.  I don't want to let my family down, they sacrificed so much for me to train for this.  I start thinking about everyone, including myself, who I'd let down..."
T:  "I have, but there's always another race." I don't believe you'd let anyone down by finishing no matter the time.... we talked about cut-ff times and such.
T:  "Is this going to be your last half-iron distance?"
Me:  "I don't think so"
T:  *laughs* "I don't think so either." *laughs*
T:   "Did you run your paces, do your numbers meet your goals?"  We talked about times...
Me: "Barely... everything has to go near perfect.  I have very little wiggle room for error."  We talked about strategies...
T:  "Then spend your time worrying about the things you can control and not the things you can't"

We chatted some more and thereafter I was fine. The tears were done.  Just like that.  This is suppose to be a fun and challenging experience -- it is a race!

After "T" left Hombre showed up to the track (finally!).  When we were stretching I told him about my freak-out fest.  He told me that it was ironic because his nerves got the best of him as well.  He lost sleep and focus throughout the day.  He said he just wanted to get to work and spend the say surfing motivational YouTube videos, but didn't want to tell me because he didn't want to shake my confidence -- that's a true training buddy!  I felt better knowing he felt my struggle too.  The difference was, he was mostly worried about the things he can control.  Still, it made me feel better.

So here's what I can control:
  • Rest, Nutrition and Hydration - in the days leading up to the race
  • Make sure my bike is prepped well.
  • Continue to practice race nutrition on training rides.
  • Be prepared with supplies for my race nutrition plan
  • Make sure I have all my equipment!
  • Check and recheck details
  • Keep a positive frame of mind.  No negative thoughts.
  • Make time for some race vizzing (race visualization)
  • Know that things might not go as planned and be ready to roll with the punches.

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