Monday, May 16, 2011

The Coin Toss

By Anne Brennan

Six years ago I ran my last triathlon. It was one of those amazing days when everything came together.

I had been terrified about the swim before the start. First, because it was my first open water swim without a wetsuit and second, because as I stepped in the water a snake slid across my ankle. But the swim went perfectly. I wasn’t throttled by other swimmers, I didn’t go off track like I had in past races and I came out of the water feeling strong.

I had been timid about the bike leg. The night before the race Blaise and I drove the bike course and my stomach churned. How was I going to handle these hills? All of my training for the race had been on a trainer in the basement. I was sure I was not prepared.

But on race day I knew what to expect. I hit the first hill perfectly poised to really take it on and every hill after that felt just as easy. Although I was passed by a couple of bikes in the first couple of miles of the bike leg, I passed cyclists from that point on and came off of the bike with legs that felt fresh and ready to go.

But here is the most amazing part. I tell people that I love triathlons. I tell them that I love the fact that my swim is pretty good because I come out of the water pretty strong, have fun on the bike even though I get passed by a lot of riders there and then get passed by everybody else on the run.

But this time it was different. I went into the run feeling strong. The run portion was a trail run, three loops of a single track trail and I didn’t get passed once.

From start to finish it was a great day. But that was six years ago. Next weekend I go into my first triathlon in six years, the first triathlon since having my bonus baby and starting a career as a freelance writer. I would like to say that I know what to expect. But do we ever really know what to expect?

Races are funny that way. You can go into it expecting to come out triumphant and completely bonk or you can go into it expecting nothing and come out feeling like a million dollars. This coin toss bothers me.

Because it bothers me, I am choosing to believe that maybe it isn’t a coin toss. Yes, there are areas of the race I can’t control. The weather might not cooperate. The water may be freezing or I might get my goggles knocked off mid-swim. I might get a flat or have to repair a chain. My legs might just not have anything left by the time I get to that portion of the race. All of this is true.

But… and I would like to think that this is a big BUT…But, I have trained for this race. I have worked with Coach Jeff and Coach Diane and I have followed their instructions. I have figured out my nutrition and I have prepared for the most likely bike failures. I have run bricks for the first time in my training life. I have worked hard and I feel strong.

It is that last thing that makes me feel better. I feel strong. I am not going to crush any records out there. I might not even PR out there but I feel strong. I feel like it can be a good day and I hope that the confidence from that strength is the deciding factor in my day.

I won’t deny that it is still a coin toss, it always is. Whether it is a 5k fun run or my target marathon, I am always aware that I am not completely in control of my racing destiny. The best I can be is prepared and this time, thanks to a great coach, a supportive husband who has cleared my plate so I could get it done, and the fact that I really enjoyed the training this time, I believe that I am

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