And now it is upon us.
After more than 6 months of training; long miles in the pool, on the road, and on the track, race week is here. This brings a number of things to the forefront. The butterflies that have been a mild annoyance are now fluttering in full force. Second guessing starts … wondering if you did enough over the few months to prepare. Is your nutrition plan set … do you have all the supplies you need … is your room confirmed?
The week before also brings “taper week”. To those reading that are unaware of this term, it basically means that you training is complete for this race, and this week will do nothing to help you on the day of the race, so you use it to stay loose; a spin here, a short two mile run there, maybe a few laps in the pool, but nothing strenuous.
You would think that after all this training “taper week” would be welcomed with open arms, and it is to a point, but after succumbing to 100+ mile weeks for so long it feels like you are slacking. It plays seriously on the mind. You know that it is the right thing to do. You know your body need to recover for this onslaught in 6 days. You know that there is nothing you can do at this point to improve your race.
But you want to train.
Training has become part of you at this point. It is what you do after work and on the weekends. Sitting with your feet up reading or watching TV, especially those of us that made a habit of that before training, feels lazy. The day before the race is especially bad. You try to get out early and get maybe 10 minutes of each discipline in (swimming is always a challenge at the race site) so that you have the whole day to … sit … and wait … and roll over in your mind every little detail of what is waiting for you the next morning. It is all at once exciting and terrifying and not conducive to rest. You will not sleep that night, or you will sleep lightly. You’ll wake up with a start every hour frantically looking at your phone (or clock) to see what time it is and if you over slept. Sleep will come to you, as it always does, precisely 20 minutes before your wake up call.
But something happens once you get up and moving and get to the race site. Your whole body is shaking with anticipation and anxiety, but once you hit that water and start moving, all of those hours of training kick in and you move. Some move faster than others, but we all move. We support those we see on the course. Some we know. Most we don’t. We hook up with runners moving at our pace and within 13 miles become friends because we are sharing the moment and the experience. We stop and walk with people we see that are in trouble or are struggling, forgetting our own pace and time goals in order to help others cross that finish line. Yes, there are some that would never stop to help, caught up in their own world and desires to stand on the podium, but the majority of us are there to accomplish something that a few months prior we never thought we could do. Even after a few races under my belt, it gives me goosebumps to imagine crossing the finish line and hearing your name called.
In a year I will be competing in my first full Ironman. 140.6 miles and, for me, about 16 hours on the course.
Let’s get it started …