This post is a little different than most. My training is going to get pretty boring (for both of us) from here on out so I figured I would change it up a little bit. For those of you that run/bike/swim/golf/etc... and compete (against your own PR or others) you will totally understand. For those of you that don't in adult life I challenge you to pick an event and Go For It! You will quickly understand why.
Most of us competed in sports as a kid or in high school and although that touches on the feeling that I am going to attempt to describe, in my opinion, it doesn't do it justice. I don't know if it is because as a kid, I didn't appreciate it or fitness was a part of everyday through practice so it was less of a goal? Whatever the reason, competing (against myself) as an adult is really a big part as to what drives this silly behavor. Very few times in adult life have I been presented with an opporutnity to measure progress towards a goal. I have work but there are very few, very clearly defined thresholds of success. We look at numbers all of the time or we can look at a large sale but success is more "fuzzy" than a race so it isn't quite the same.
Specifically for triathlon, it isn't somethin you can cram for (like many other tests I have taken). You put in the time and when race day comes your body just does what you have been training it to do. I have to monitor what is going on and constantly adapt to changing conditions but you put the time in and all should go well. If things outside of your control change you deal with them but there really isn't much more to it than that.
Now race day is a special time, especially for the really personally stretching events. What I mean by that is any event that is a first time event. If you just starting running it may be your first 5K or if you are new to triathlons it could be your first sprint distance or first open water swim. Whatever the event, if it is a goal the feelings are the same for me. I am going to feel the exact same butterflies on the 21st that I felt the first Calcutta golf tournament I played in or my first running race or my first open water swim.... To my mind, a challenge is a challenge.
Currently, the race is starting to morph from something in the distance to something much much closer. With that said, I am starting to think of the details, devloping race plans, looking at the weather and what I am going to wear to be most comfortable and of course, looking at and planning for contingencies. Once it gets to a week out I will really start to get nervy. Rene will avoid me :-) and remind me not to be grouchy. As each day passes, the race will move from a tertiary thought to all consuming culminating when I am in the water waiting for the cannon to sound starting the race. Once I get to Tempe with the other participants (I still can't call myself and athlete) and knowing that they are going through the same mental checklists, the wondering if they have done enough, wondering if they will respond to the challenge. The best part, everyone is nice, everyone understands, everyone is borderline sick to their stomach, everyone is sharing the experience and wish the best for everyone else.
So the morning of the race, the nervousness shifts to focus. Every race begins with the Star Spangled Banner. My pics to the right, it shows my buddy Mike and I getting ready to start my first 1/2IM and I remember a focus coming over me, IMAZ will be no different and I am really looking forward to it.
During the race itself, you have people that are quiet, chatty, struggling or even almost euphoric and I respond in kind. When you see someone struggling, you encourage and tell them to run with you and help them overcome. I encourage everyone because I know how big of a deal it is when you have hit the wall and you feel like hell and a complete stranger comes by and basically says "we will get through this, come with me". I guess to sum it up, I have included a link to the video of the swim start at last year's Ironman Arizona. I have been to a lot of fantastic sporting events, I have been fortunate enough to see a SuperBowl, the clincher when the Cardinals won the World Series against Detroit and many other events and I can say, I HAVE NEVER seen a more spectacular event than the IRONMAN swim start.
Enjoy the video here
Now, if you wonder why and are looking for inspiration, I have included two more vidoes for you to view. The first is what inpsires me and I hope I have what it takes. You can watch it by clicking here.
The second video is geared to inspire all of you. It will bring tears to your eyes and if you have ever been scared of failure or to try, keep the Hoyts in mind. You can do anything you put your mind to do. You may not do it the first time or even the second but if you want it bad enough, there is nothing you can't do. Click here
The last thing I will leave you with is set a goal and follow where it takes you. You just may surprise yourself with where you end up.