Saturday, September 9, 2017

Reflections on my growth as an Athlete

As I get ready to toe the line at my last big race of the season, I can't help but reflect on my journey over the last several years.  I'm currently reading Matt Fitzgerald's "How Bad Do You Want It" and there are so many amazing stories and nuggets of wisdom that have really stuck with me.  Which is probably what triggered this self reflection.

I used to put so much pressure on myself to do well that pre-race nerves were magnified ten fold.  The anxiety I’d feel before a race was almost crushing.  The swim in particular would cause me a lot of stress.  But once I got out onto the race course, all was good.  Being nervous before a race is normal.   I’ve always thought that it means you care.  You’ve invested blood, sweat and probably a few tears to train for it so it’s understandable that you’re nervous.  It’s when those nerves consume you that it becomes unhealthy and counter productive.   I’ve always said the day I stop being nervous before a race is the day I find another hobby.

I also used to stress about everything before a race.  The weather, what I was going to wear, you name it.  Now I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t really stress about anything, I just make sure I prepare for it.  There is no point in stressing about things you can’t control, all you can do is do your best to prepare for them.  It is what it is.  Don't waste your energy worrying about things you have no control over.  Save that energy for race day.

 Last year when I got injured, I was taken out of the race scene.   When I came back, my anxiety had been replaced by a newfound sense of gratitude.  Yes, I still had pre-race nerves but the anxiety wasn’t there.  The pressure to perform wasn’t there.   I just wanted to go out and see what I was capable of.  I think that’s why Tremblant was such a successful race for me.  I was racing without expectation.   I can definitely say that my injury last year changed my mindset.  It was like a big re-set button.   Now every start line I get to is a small victory.   Every race is a celebration of the hard work I've done, regardless of how it goes.

Once again, I have no expectations for tomorrow.  People have asked me if I have a goal time and to be honest, I haven't given it much thought.  Ideally I'd like to be somewhere around the same overall time frame as Tremblant as the course is similar in terms of climbing and I feel that my cycling has gotten better over the summer.  It is going to be really cold on the bike (7 degrees celsius is the current forecast) so I suspect that will definitely affect me.   The descent into Keene will be chilly that's for sure.  But I know I'll warm up once I start the climb into Wilmington.  I am going to have to put on layers for the bike so that will take extra time in transition.  Taking the layers off will also make for a bit of a longer T2 but whatever.  I'd rather be warm and finish the bike vs. freezing and potentially not finishing the bike.  The sun will be out so the temperature will warm up a fair bit over the course of the bike.   The cool starting temperature is really the only concern I have.  I have clothing to prepare for it but I suspect it will be a lot different when I'm soaking wet.  The water is cool but I prefer that for a longer swim.  It's not far off what the temperature was in Tremblant.  The run course is hilly but so was the course in Tremblant.  So I'm ready for that.  I'm ready for all of it.  Nothing left for me to do except Be Awesome.   Catch you on the flip side gang! 





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