There is only one week to go and you have dialed back your training. You are sleeping as much as you can, eating well, and starting to feel restless. That’s when you start thinking. I hope you are looking forward to race day, looking forward to finishing what you started. But I bet there’s some nervousness there, some worries about things seen and unseen. I think we all go through this. We worry about the unknown and the parts of this race that are out of our control. I had a little moment earlier this week. I won’t elaborate on the irrational worries filling my head for fear they’ll plant some in yours. Instead I will only share with you what my coach and friend shared with me this week and has shared with me over and over. I hope he does not mind my stealing his advice, as wisdom is rare.
Mark has probably said this to me in a dozen different ways over the years, but the kernel of truth is the same. Part of the accomplishment of this day is overcoming uncontrollable and unanticipated factors. The only thing we can do this is to prepare in the best way we know how and then trust in ourselves that no matter what happens, we will survive and prevail. And so I encourage you to do what Mark told me to do, something I know helps me in every facet of my life.
Write everything down. Make a plan for the day. Write it down. Plan every detail. What time will you get up, what you will eat, what will you do when you arrive? There are a hundred details to remember and so you should write them down and bring the list with you. Follow the plan, every detail. Think through all the decisions you can anticipate. Read the list every time you start to feel worried. Read it every day. Add things. Refine the plan. Walk through the race in your mind over and over until you feel like you’ve done it a hundred times.
A few years ago I remember standing in transition with Sara Dowdy before a race and watching a young woman prepare. She was wolfing down a turkey sandwich and mumbling to herself. We were laughing about the sandwich, but when I stopped to listen, it was clear she was rehearsing her race. “I’m going to stand up and wade out of the water. As soon as I can I am going to start jogging toward transition. The ground is sandy so I need to watch my step.” She went on and on, in her own world, preparing as well as she possibly could. This is you. This is me. This is our plan. (Maybe minus the turkey sandwich)
And so this is your week. Some simple instructions to help you get control of your mind and show up ready to succeed.
· Write a plan. It might sound silly but you’ll feel better afterwards. I promise you will.
· Gather your equipment. My dining room table becomes a staging area, and I add items all week as I finish with them. You will find an equipment list here.
· Continue training. This is a light week. Think short bursts of intensity designed to keep you tuned but not exhausted. Enjoy the easy week. Relax. It won’t hurt you a bit to train less.
· Eat well. Put good fuel in your body this week. Friday dinner and Saturday lunch should be especially good meals. Eat plenty of carbs, vegetables and protein. Saturday night eat well but don’t stuff yourself.
· Hydrate well. You cannot start to hydrate the morning of the race. Begin a few days before. Increase your water intake. Don’t go crazy, but drink water. You’ll need it!
· Sleep as much as you can. Saturday night may be a hard night. Make Friday night a good night. Sleep late Saturday morning or take a nap Saturday afternoon. Even if you sleep very little on Saturday night before, you’ll be ok. Don’t worry. Stock up on sleep this week.
· Take care of yourself, please! This week members of our team have developed hip bursitis, knee pain, and several people have tripped, fallen off bikes, or had panic attacks. Please train safely.
· Say the mantra and mean it:
I'm a winner. I can do this. I am beautiful. I'm worth it, I'm good enough. I'll survive. It's tough, but I'm tougher! I can make it... I WILL make it. I'll reach my goal. I AM loved. I am special. I am Blessed.
Please take care my triBE, my mermaids, my friends, my partners, my strength. We are about to undertake the journey yet again, or for the very first time. Together we will do this. Together we are strong.
I am here for you if you need to talk any time this week. Email me, call me, text me. I will see you at the pool, at the expo, in transition, on the course, or at the finish line. I am with you every step and surely blessed to have you with me. I am filled with hope and deep gratitude.
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. ~Albert Scweitzer
**P.S. On a final note, I learned that my coach, friend, and inspiration for this post, Mark Oakes, was in a biking accident yesterday, and it looks as if he will need surgery to repair his injuries. For those of you who are so inclined, I know he would appreciate healing thoughts sent in his direction.