My first race of the season is less than a week away and I am not excited. This has happened before – the pressure mounts, I don’t think that I am ready and I want to bury my head in the sand instead of embracing the challenge before me. I know I’ll show up in some form on race day, but my mental state needs some adjustment over the next few days.
The key here is pressure. No one puts pressure on me, but me. We all want to perform well, but are my husband, family or friends going to care if I turn in a sub three hour Olympic distance race time this weekend? Doubtful. Will I care? Probably, but I’m trying to care less. I don’t want to wait to reach my potential, but guess what? I am still new to this sport and it is going to take some time to grow into all three disciplines. It frustrates me that I am not as good on the bike and run as I am in the water; I have been swimming for over twenty years so go figure, self. Chill. You are part fish and it takes fish awhile to learn how to ride a bike.
I had the time of my life at Ironman Maryland last year. I was able to have that incredible day because I got a terrible cold and a bunch of flat tires that allowed me to throw my lofty expectations for Ironman number one out the window and enjoy myself. That is what it is about. There will always be pain, but in the pain there should be joy.
But I wanted to quit leading up to that race too. I did not believe my preparation was adequate to give me the results I wanted. These high expectations for myself need to stop. Stop!
Guess what, self? Here it is: You will never be perfectly prepared. Come to terms with it. There was be injuries, sicknesses, flat tires, GI problems, lack of sleep, equipment issues, etc, etc.
The best I can hope for is to continue to learn and grow as an athlete and person. Triathlon (especially becoming an Ironman) has made me a more confident individual, but triathlon also breaks me down because I always want to be better. That is the journey.
I am good enough right now. I am not going to be first and I am not going to be last (but let’s be honest, that voice in my head says, “wellllllll, you could be last”). I will push my body and enjoy that feeling. That’s it. The end.
There is a time and place for time goals (maybe) and this first race of the season is not that time. The pressure to achieve certain times/paces/watts might always take the fun out of the sport for me and if that’s the case I will have to reevaluate my goals.
So what does Sunday’s race look like for me? A hard effort with a smile on my face. I may glance at heart rate, I may glance at watts on the bike, but I want to focus on feel: feeling my muscles and lungs burning, the sweat pouring off my face, the sweet hat I’ll be wearing on the run and savoring the experience. Every. Time.