Monday, June 17, 2013

the day I stop getting nervous for races

I was editing something on my blog the other day and I noticed in my bio I wrote, “The day I stop getting nervous for races is the day I stop racing.” It struck me a little, as I noticed this year’s build for Ironman Coeur d’Alene felt a little different than years past. I don’t have my massive spreadsheets of predicted times and I haven’t scoped out my competition. I haven’t done any forecasting on how many Kona spots will be awarded to the W30-34 age group and I didn’t even look up my bib number until today (#425 – seems like a good one, I’d say). Had the fire in my belly burned out? Where was the fierce competitor that pictured herself on top of the podium? Is the absence of a “Kona or bust” mentality working against me? Is it just that after nine Ironmans #10 is going to seem like no big deal? Or worst of all, have I fallen out of love with Ironman and am I not going to get nervous for my race this week? Maybe my neurosis just died down a little…

Training has gone well this season and while there haven’t been any workouts ending in panic or tears for fear of a bad race, there have been many other emotions that have been poured into this year’s training. There have been fun-filled morning swims, from holiday themes to swim tests to beautiful open water swimming. I’ve gone on many bike rides solo, in groups, with old friends, new friends, and the boyfriend. And there have been many runs filled with laughter, but also tears – like the times I think about my dad’s cancer or when I thought about the bombings in Boston or just some solo long runs filled with self-reflection on what makes me happy, sad, or excited!

Some of that self-reflection included “what the hell am I doing with this sport?” And I believe the answer is still a work in progress. When I first got into triathlon it was for something fun and exciting to do, something to challenge myself and push my limits. I later progressed into chasing podium finishes and World Championship qualifications and I’ve even flirted with the idea of going pro in this sport. But those goals would all be for naught if I wasn’t excited to toe the line race morning. And I can assure you, that is not the case; I am still looking forward to race day! Wednesday morning I was having a quick chat with my coach after swimming and we were talking about CDA and how a lot of people in Seattle have shied away from it this year, because of some of the later season races that are now offered (Tahoe and Whistler added in 2013). She mentioned that you really need to have your act together to be ready for CDA and I brushed it off like, “oh yeah, you do…it’s been a good race for me.” And then Kainoa’s eyes lit up as she said, “oh, it’ll be good to you this year too,” which made my eyes light up, which was basically like tinder exposed in the Northern Idaho sunlight waiting to fire up in my belly.

And ever since then I’ve had race butterflies, so I know I will be ALL IN on race day. It’s a race and lifestyle that still makes my heart pitter-patter, even if perhaps after CDA I might need a break from full Ironman for a while. I thought a lot about this year’s race emotions this past weekend and noticed that I’m going into Sunday with feelings that are a bit different than what they were 2 years ago. I don’t know if it’s my maturity as a person, experience as an athlete, or the fact that other life things seem a lot bigger this year. From friends having babies, to thoughts on my dad, to my own relationships, or watching friends go through injuries, I’m reminded of what Kara Goucher says: “it’s just running.” (Well, swimming, biking, and running, but you get the idea. And yes, I’ll relate to Kara Goucher whenever I can…perhaps delusional self-confidence also comes with age.)

While I can’t say what’s next after this race, I can assure you (and more importantly myself) that it was a good idea to go through this journey and there are no plans to stop racing for a long, long time. Best of luck to all competitors who toe the line on in Coeur d’Alene on Sunday! Have a safe and special day. And thank you to everyone who helped me get to the start line healthy and happy. Ironman is a good, long race and I’m sure I will feel your presence as I’m fighting through the pain on Sunday!

With Heart,

1 comment:

  1. Have a fantastic race!!!!!! I think 425 is a good luck bib number to have. It's like you're bringing a little piece of the Seattle area with you. <3