Here I go, getting all nostalgic in the final days before my race. I knew it was only a matter of time. I've been able to keep the nerves at bay for the most part with mini freak-outs happening only here and there. I was feeling good, looking forward to it actually, and then I read the Athlete's Guide that was released earlier in the week. It's essentially just a schedule of events, but it forced reality to set in. Then I signed up for the athlete alert at Accenture and saw my race number, which made it even more real.
Until a couple weeks ago, this race for me was all about the swim. It was about winning my own private battle with myself, in beating fear and self-doubt that I've carried around for a long time. But as I started to improve as a swimmer, albeit still very average and still a beginner, I started thinking about other things that could potentially ruin this race for me. One of my Beginner Triathlete Tour de France Challenge teammates had a race last weekend and ended up with a DNF, not because she didn't train or wasn't prepared, but because she had a flat coming out of T1 and then flatted again a few miles into the course. These are the things you can't prepare for and have to accept. It bothered me for a couple days, thinking about how I would feel if that happens to me on Sunday. Then this morning I read a discussion thread about a long-time member of Beginner Triathlete who lost her battle with a brain tumor this week. She was only 41 and until just a few weeks ago, seemingly healthy. I didn't know her, but her story really touched me and put things into perspective. Someone else from the group once said that every race is a celebration of the fact that we get to be there. So that's how I'm approaching this Sunday. If my bike falls apart, so be it. The forecast calls for thunderstorms and 91 degrees and there is nothing I can do about it. Sure I'll be disappointed if something goes wrong, but I'll have the opportunity to do another race at another time.
This journey for me turned out to be so much more than a quest to do this one triathlon anyway. Over the past two months, I've experienced a complete lifestyle change, have found something I really love and feel better than I've felt in years. I've met a lot of great people and look forward to meeting so many more as I continue in the sport. It has given me a new sense of confidence and what I'm capable of. And for that, this has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. Metro Sports New York did a piece a few weeks ago on the race, and finished by saying:
"Swim like a dolphin, ride like you stole it, and run like they’re chasing you!"
That's what I'll be trying my best to do on Sunday. In the meantime, today was another light day with just an evening swim. Despite some lingering shoulder aches about halfway through, I believe I have never felt more comfortable in the water. I did a short warm-up and then another continuous mile. I was a couple minutes slower than the last time, but it's not important to me. I still have the very recent memory of not being able to make it more than 100 yards so I'm grateful to have gotten this far.
Speaking of swimming, here is the video I promised yesterday. This is from one of my open water swims at Brighton Beach last weekend. Let's hope the Hudson doesn't look like this!
Distance - 2200 yards total (1.25 miles), 1800 continuous
Time - 50:00