With less than 20 hours remaining until I jump in Lake Oconee for my first-ever triathlon, I find myself battling more nervous energy than I have ever felt before a race.
I figure that it’s simply the fear of the unknown. I don’t know how I will react when I’m wading in the water waiting for the gun to go off. Nor do I have any clue how I will hold up physically during the swim. It’s all totally new to me. To mentally prepare, I hope to stay as calm as possible and not let my emotions get too high or too low for the remainder of today.
This could be harder than expected though. It’s the last day of school for my kids and we are planning a water balloon/squirt gun fight for when they get off the bus. That will be followed by an ice cream party. Neither of these activities define “calm” in any form or fashion!
Then, we have to get the kids loaded into the car and make the two-hour drive to the race location during rush hour in Atlanta. Again, nothing calm about that. This will be the ultimate test of my patience. I am treating this as the first true leg of the race. In fact, it could prove to be the hardest leg!
As for my physical preparation, I am mostly focused on loading up on electrolytes to avoid cramping issues. I am drinking several bottles of water mixed with Nuun tablets throughout the day. I did the same thing before the ING GA Marathon and I had my best race yet. As they say, don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.
I wish I had been able to get in a few more swims this week leading up to the race, but time didn’t permit it. Plus, at this point, I figure 1 or 2 extra swims wouldn’t make much of a difference. The best course of action now is to stay fresh. At least that’s what I tell myself to rationalize my lack of preparation!
As for the actual race, I have a simple strategy. For the swim, I will hang in the back of the pack and off to one side to avoid getting caught in the “washing machine” that everybody talks about at the start. When I finally start to take some strokes, my mantra will be “slow and steady.” The more energy I waste on my weakest event (swimming), the more it will hurt me in my stronger legs of the race, the bike, and especially the run.
I don’t plan to start actually “racing” until I get out of the lake. I have my transition strategy all mapped out and hope that I am able to pull it off. The bike course is relatively flat, so hopefully my legs will stay relatively fresh and ready for the run, which is where I hope to make up some ground.
Once thing is certain, if the race doesn’t go according to plan, I will remember these words I read here at the end of this article.
“I won as soon as I answered the starter’s gun. I cannot measure myself against the others who ran with me today, only the millions who did not; that group that did not try. The millions of people who thought they were too old or it would be too hard. Those who would not face the fear and doubt and overcome it. That group that I was a proud member of for (38) years, but will never be again.”
…Here goes nothing!