As I make my way to the start line my senses are always heightened. The colors are always so much brighter as I squint over the water to locate the buoys. The sounds are crisper as I can make out every huff and puff of breath from fellow competitors as they battle through conflicting emotions such as nervousness or "amped up" control. All of these emotions prepare them to get ready for the task at hand. I can feel the wind change as it blows across the back of my neck and across every hair on my arm. I can smell and almost taste that familiar smell of the rubber, from the hundreds, even thousands, of wetsuits and swim caps that surround me on all sides. The rubber combines with the smell of sunscreen which always reminds me of the long, hot, grueling road ahead of us as we seek our main objective for the day - the FINISH LINE!!
As I dig my toes into the sand and feel every grain on the bottom of my feet and get that cool jolting sensation shooting up my legs from the water that has mixed with the sand, I hear the race announcer yell "5 more minutes!". With the countdown now in full swing, I pull down my tinted goggles and I escape/hide into my own little world. This is where the race starts for me. I take my position at the starting line right up front and take a look around at my fellow competitors and ask myself - "Did they sacrifice as much as I have to get here, to this moment? When they were totally exhausted did they get back up and say "just one more", like I did? Did they hit the snooze button when I was out there training? Did they quit when things didn't go their way, when I persevered and kept pushing? Do they look confident, as I know I am confident? Did they mentally prepare the way I did? I go through all these questions about my competitors and think to myself that the answer to all these questions is NO!!
The race announcer says, "2 more minutes!"
I ask myself - Do I belong here? Am I confident in all the facets of my training that has prepared me to perform well on this day? When times get tough and I face fear in the eye am I going to rise to the occasion? Am I going to give up and am I prepared to live with myself knowing I did? Did I exceed all my expectations leading up to this point? I am going dig deeper than the guy next to me? Am I ready to handle all the pain and suffering that today is going to bring? ABSOLUTELY!! NO QUESTION!!
If I can honestly say that I know for a fact that most of my competitors will answer no to those questions and I can honestly say yes to all of mine I know I am going to have a great day. I must face the facts of my preparations and be completely honest with myself.
":30 seconds" Everything goes silent and chills of excitement race up my spine. Goosebumps shoot down my arms.
I launch my body into the water like a coiled up snake ready to strike and ...
GAME ON!! It is going to be a fun day and I'll see you at the finish line.
This blog might seem out of place with our race seasons are so far in the distance, but I challenge you to look into this article a little bit deeper. All the questions referenced above we should be asking ourselves - now. This is the time we create all the answers for those questions. This is the time we compare ourselves to our competitors and use them as motivation to keep pushing, keep getting back up and keep putting one foot in front of the other. This is the time we hold ourselves accountable for the way we are training, the intensity at which we are training, and the focus we have for our goals. This is a critical part of training, so take it seriously so that you can carry yourself with the confidence of a champion when you start your race season. Train Hard, Train Smart, and Have Fun.