It’s three sleeps to race day. On Sunday morning I’ll be waking up before the sunrise to spray on sunscreen that definitely will wear off before I get much sun exposure (those bike short tans are real), to slather on Body Glide knowing that the nape of my neck will still chafe from my wetsuit and to give my bike (her name is Violette) a pep talk and an apology for the many hills we are about to tackle together.
This will be my second half-ironman. Last year when I did this race I was paralyzed with fear. The stress dreams were strong and I memorized the cutoff times. I told all my friends this race would be a “one and done” for me.
So why am I going back? Because I feel like I didn’t give myself a chance to properly enjoy it last year. My fear of failure lasted until about 75K into the bike ride, when it dawned on me that A) I was going to finish B) this was a beautiful course and C) this was the best organized and supported race I had ever done.
Last year, Muskoka was my A race, and my obsession. This year, my goal was my BQ so Muskoka is the icing on the cake.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m feeling great in the taper.
My pre-race laundry list of worries:
- With three sports, there are so many things you can anticipate going wrong
- What if I have a terrible swim?
- It’s boiling hot?
- I get a flat?
- I bonk on the run?
- I forget any one of the 300 pieces of gear I seem to need on these races?
- I fail to hydrate properly?
- Because I was so focused on my marathon training, I definitely haven’t done the same volume of triathlon-specific training this year
- I should swim more. Always
- I should lift more weights. Have definitely been neglecting those upper body sets
- I didn’t ride the course this year. What if I find the hills more challenging?
My reassuring thoughts:
- It’s less pressure, as this race wasn’t my goal for the season
- I know what to expect
- I may have done fewer long rides, but have been more consistent in my bike training
- I have more tri experience under my belt – including three races since Muskoka 2015
- My triathlons and running races so far this year have been great – I have felt strong, performed well and beat my goals
- I am tougher, physically and mentally, since last season. In those 12 months I had my first DNF, rehabbed my hamstring, changed jobs, planned a wedding and made a lot of trips back East as my father battled cancer (he’s making wonderful progress and I am thankful every day). Plus gentleman friend finished his Masters. At times, that stressful list seemed insurmountable, but in comparison I would take the 94K bike over any one of those things, any day.
The race is my reward at the end of training. Races are the chance to test my strengths, spot my weaknesses and celebrate being with like-minded people who understand the woes of not being able to wear sandals in the summer (bye bye toenails) and going to bed early on the weekend so you can do your long run before it gets hot. These are my people, and we come from all over the place to enjoy races together – and I think that is incredible.
So, for the next couple of days I will obsess over every ache and pain – seriously, though, what is up with my hip? – check the weather, pack and repack my bag and drink lots of water. On Sunday morning I will wake up nervous and scared, but by Sunday night I will be going to bed (probably at 9 p.m.) very tired and happy.