Eastern Region Performance Coach of the Year and Born2Tri Head Coach describes her experience of pre-race nerves, over to you Teresa!
After more than 10 years in the land of triathlon, my race nerves have still not got any better. As soon as I wake in the morning my stomach begins to churn and my first visit to the loo begins. I try to tell myself to stop being ridiculous, to calm down and take some deep breaths; I manage this for a few minutes but then I’m running to the loo again!
My hubby Mark tells me I should eat a hearty, carb filled breakfast so I am full of energy but it’s like trying to shove a small bird down my throat, its dry and closed and my stomach is in knots. I’ve tried sitting quietly in a room listening to relaxing music but this just gives me more time to think about the race, the panic rises again in my chest and I’m off to the loo for the third time. I start to wonder where it’s all coming from, I haven’t eaten a huge meal the night before but it’s endless. I’m sweating and thinking it should be much easier than this. I want to run and hide or simply quit but that nagging little voice in my head tells me to get a grip. I have trained specifically for this race, am well prepared and very capable of finishing, whether on my feet or crawling over the line (note from our Webmaster, crawling in a race is not allowed!)
Breakfast consumed I’m now thinking about checking my kit that I packed the night before. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve checked it, it all comes out again just to make sure, the anger is rising because this is stupid, it’s all there and I know it but the tears are starting to crawl down my face I feel inadequate and useless. The question in my head is “Why am I doing this to myself?” and my husband tells me “because you enjoy it and love it”. Can that be so?
I begin to pack my kit box with my bike into the car but realise one of the wheels has a flat tyre. Well that’s it, I’m off to the loo again to have a weep and yet another poo. When I get back Mark has fixed my tyre, all is well. What would I do without him I ask myself?
The journey begins, I close my eyes to try and forget where I am going, but the first thought in my head is about the swim. Am I going to drown, will I make a fool of myself by rolling over and waving my hand in the air praying to be rescued. Will I remember where I racked my bike, will I remember to put my helmet on and will I be wearing two pairs of sunglasses. I know I will get lost on the bike leg because I do not know the route well enough and will I be able to complete the run because I haven’t drunk enough water and I’m now seriously dehydrated. Everyone is better than me, they will all pass me like I am standing still, I will fail because that is what I have told myself I will do. I now have my legs crossed and my bum squeezed so tight I cannot breathe. I’m being completely irrational but I need the loo again.
I arrive at the venue and jump out the car and leg it to the first toilet I can find. Do I sit on it or do I shove my head down it? Minutes later I drag myself to registration and pretend I am a triathlete amongst all the other beautiful, fit looking people. I gingerly take my stuff to transition and lay it all out trying to memorise where the hell my bike is.
Finally the time has come and the race must begin. I stand in line, feeling a stone lighter in weight when I’m told to begin. The clock starts ticking, or is that my heart pounding in my chest, but suddenly I find myself in the zone. I’ve calmed down and my breathing is back to normal, the adrenaline is pumping and I’m going as good as anyone else around me. Before I know it, I’ve swam that leg, I’ve found my bike and whizzed around the course and I’ve run my little socks off and completed the race in a personal best time. I’m grinning from ear to ear and wondering what the hell that was all about, after all I am a triathlete and I am having fun.
I can’t say it gets any better but it does lessen. I am still very nervous about each and every race, but with lots of encouragement and the correct amount of training I am at least as prepared as I can be.