Health

Race day nerves: My triathlon challenge

Don't talk to me. It's the countdown to race day, and I'm a ball of nerves — prickly, anxious, snappish, and guilty. Sorry, kids! Sorry, husband! What was I thinking when I signed myself up to compete in a triathlon? Someone remind me, please.

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Don’t talk to me. It’s the countdown to race day, and I’m a ball of nerves — prickly, anxious, snappish, and guilty. Sorry, kids! Sorry, husband! What was I thinking when I signed myself up to compete in a triathlon? Someone remind me, please.

Nerves are normal before any big event. But I never expected to be this distracted and tense. In the days leading up the race, I’m treating myself like a delicate flower, worried about over-exertion or pulling a muscle or eating the wrong thing. I hear myself telling my two youngest (ages three and five): “Sorry, but I can’t carry you both up the stairs at the same time. I have a race!” (Wasn’t this whole triathlon-training-journey supposed to make me stronger, not more fragile?)

I eat a ton of pasta, whether or not it’s actually necessary: carb-loading.

I pinch my bike’s tires every time I walk past them. Still holding air?

I make a list of all the gear needed for each transition, and practice laying it out. Some people chat and relax during the transitions, but I plan to stay focused and consider them part of the race. My shoes are equipped with quick-release laces. I have Body-Glide and Vaseline to prevent chafing and blisters; goggles and towel; bike shoes and helmet. All the energy food and drink one person could possibly need is piled into my bag. I have a change of clothes for afterward. (Will there be an afterward?)

I visualize my race pace, and make a plan: commit equally to each leg of the race without worrying about the next one.

I remind myself over and over of my own goal: completion. There will be others in the race with different expectations and much more experience, and it may be hard not to feel intimidated, or frustrated. But the race I need to swim, bike, and run is my own.

Still, all the preparation in the world can’t guarantee me a perfect race. Come to think of it, that’s why races are so exciting. There’s no predicting what obstacles might crop up. Anything could happen. If I get a flat tire, I will have to change it on the fly (I’ve practiced, but would rather not test out my abilities mid-race). At the very least, I will be challenged by weary muscles. There will be moments when I will have to fight to stay strong of heart and mind.

I’ve worked hard for nine months. This is it. No wonder I’m nervous.

No matter what happens, it will be an adventure.

Guess that’s why I signed up.