I have written in the past about pre-race nerves – before running races. Triathlon brings a whole new bundle of issues. Three disciplines require much more equipment – goggles, wet suit, towels, bike, bike shoes, gloves, helmet, bike pump, sunglasses, socks, race belt, running shoes, sun screen, lip balm, sports drink, sports gel, hat or headband, and the all important Body Glide. (racing suit is implied) You may think I wrote this to inform non-triathletes of everything that is needed. It is also a reminder list for me and my friend. If any triathletes reading this notice I missed anything, all gratitude will be given if you remind me!
Besides the fear of forgetting something, there is the typical nerves before a race – times three. So much is going through my mind. Will the water be rough? I hope I don’t get kicked in the swim… The bike course is hilly, is my bike in perfect condition? Did I put my tire on correctly? Don’t twist an ankle on the trail run. Legs don’t cramp, legs don’t cramp. In a running race the nerves usually go away within the first half mile as the crowd falls into pace. With triathlon that happens within the first mile – of the run. Over two thirds through the race. I go through waves of nerves actually. Once the swim gets underway and I am confident in my buoyancy I get into a swim rhythm. Then it peaks as I get to transition. Hurry hurry and don’t be clumsy. Then on to the bike – once I am in my ride I calm down quickly. This is my strong suit and where I pass up the faster swimmers. That doesn’t last too long because the transition nerves return when the bike leg is over. Now to at least hold the gain I made on the bike. So after the first mile I have a good idea of my stamina and if I am strong in my legs or fighting off cramps. Then I can run. The finish in this race is fun, it is out and back and ends down a path along the creek and into the finish area. In the past it is full of finishers when I finish. Both due to being in one of the last waves to start and due to my pace… This year I am hoping it is more from being in a late wave.
Just remembered one more item, my USAT membership card. Where was I? Race nerves – as much as I fret over the race, I know that once I have my gear set in transition and head to the shore, worrying won’t do me a bit of good. If anything it may hinder me. Great pep talk, but it doesn’t change anything. In fact, I can feel my nerves building right now. Fortunately I will have the drive to the park tomorrow with my friend to process. We are creatures of habit, as she reminded me this morning. We stay at the same hotel, go to the same restaurant for pasta the night before, and drive the same routes. With the road construction that changed the bike course, we will have to check the drive there out. Repeating a mantra in my head will help me through the race, a new habit to add. “Believe I Am Able.” That will do it. Because what matters most to me is to know I gave my all. I am not out to impress anyone or prove I am worthy to anyone. I must believe I am able – able to swim strong, transition quickly, conquer the hills, and run my strongest. I race because I train. And my training has proven to me I am able.