The son of a favorite deceased author of mine was speaking this week at my favorite local bookstore “Changing Hands”. I had not expected the huge turnout and the size and closeness of the crowd outweighed my desire to stay and hear what he had to say in person, I can after all read his book and have heard him speak on NPR. So I left.
This experience directly relates to my latest triathlon challenge, facing my fear of race day. Two things are waking me up at night from bad dreams. One is the cold water, the reality of unheated pool swimming in October superceded my expectations. I bought a “Hothead” swim cap today but otherwise just need to plow on through it. The other thing besides being cold is the sheer numbers of people I will be surrounded by during the first two phases of the race.
I have run before in a group many times, I was after all in the military. That, although challenging to my ego due to my slowness is not going to be the issue. I am struggling to reframe my feelings about the swim and the bike portions of the race. On bike and in water I already feel out of my element AND especially in the pool I will have the smallest space to deal with the large number of other race participants.
I watch clips online and here Triathletes talk about the crowded conditions and waves and how much water they drank and getting kicked and all these etiquette rules about the actual race day and the frightened little girl comes out again that wants to take her book and flashlight and go hide under her covers and read about having a life instead of having one. I have faced that part of myself down in the pool and my fear of putting face in water and blowing out my air, I am facing down my fear on the bike, as long as I am not near any cars, people or other bikes I am now OK where I used to be terrified as soon as both feet were off the ground and on the pedals. So I know this is just one more thing to face, and I know the key is practice, practice practice.
I am afraid of crowds, the older I am the more claustrophobic I get in large groups. That being said I go back to the words of Mandela and Ghandi who both said in their autobiographies that a brave man is not one who does not feel fear, a brave man is one who acknowledges the fear and does it anyway. So I am acknowledging my fear.
I am 18 days away from my first race. I don’t feel ready. I do feel scared. However, I will show up and finish, that was my goal for this first race, to just finish.
I can do that, I can.
I guess its kind of like the ninth month of a pregnancy. I want the outcome, the completion. I’ve done the prep work, but the work to get to the reward is an unknown effort with clearly some parts that are less pleasant for me than others. I knew when I picked this goal it would be a huge challenge, that was kind of the point.
18 days to go and there is now way to get through to the finish line except to buck up and do the labor.
Swim practice with run, and then I will bike again tomorrow.
Tonight some sleep.
But I will work tonight on dreaming my success.