Getting prepared for race weekend

To quote the sage Winnie the Pooh, “There’s a rumbly in my tumbly.”  It’s been there all week. It’s as if my body knows instinctively when it’s race week which means taper which means I am hungry. All. The. Time. How do I handle it? I try to eat small portions of good quality food at frequent intervals. And I remind myself that I am strong and well-fueled for this weekend’s festival of triathlon. And then I grab another handful of dried fruit and nuts.

This weekend is Musselman and I’ve registered for the DoubleMussel. This means that I am doing the sprint triathlon on Saturday morning followed by the 70.3 race on Sunday morning. Yep double the triathlon, double the fun. I have done the sprint and the 70.3 race previously. Never back to back. For the last three years I’ve thought, “Yeah, maybe I’ll do DoubleMussel one year. That sounds badass.” Turns out this is the year. It’s the year of my race insanity.

For 2012, my race theme has revolved around difficult and challenging. It started in May with the Sehgahunda Trail Marathon. The 26.2 miles with 4,000 feet of climbing on the trails of Letchworth State Park was the hardest event I have ever done (Ironman included). Now it continues with the DoubleMussel. And for some reason, I’m not scared. Hungry, yes. Scared, no.

When I decided to make this year all about the hard races, I didn’t know exactly why. I knew I needed something physically difficult and demanding. It could have been from the breakup of my relationship. It could have been that I was stagnent in my training and fitness. It could have been a monetary bout of the crazies. I followed my gut in planning my race schedule, hoping that I was following intuition and not indigestion. My mantras began to revolve around strength and survival and confidence. I started to put the watch away more and more during my training, using it only as a rough guide, motivated instead by how I was feeling — physically, mentally and emotionally — rather than on what results I was producing.

Race week offers plenty of time to reflect and I’m beginning to notice how pushing the limits of myself physically has changed the way I view myself and my world. It hasn’t been instantaneous growth by any means, but the more I push myself in endurance sports, the more my brain seems to be balanced. My “whatever” attitude toward race weekend isn’t cavalier or disrespectful of the course, the race and my fellow triathletes. But I have developed a whatevs point of view — one that allows me to roll with what the day brings. I know I’m prepared to get through the weekend. I won’t do it a personal record speed, but that wasn’t the goal in the first place. That’s like expecting to have black bean burgers for dinner when you purchased ingredients for lasagne instead. (Food metaphors are in heavy rotation this week for me.) So why worry over things like pace or focus on what could go wrong on race day? These races don’t define who I am. They are an expression of who I am. Training has brought me the opportunity to get to know my real self. And when I’ve gotten to know who I really am, I’ve discovered that I’m not so bad after all. I don’t need to change anything. I don’t need achieve anything. All I need is to be who I am. And with the help of some athletic challenges, I’m learning that who I am has always been good enough.

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