talk me down, please

hmmmm …. i find myself a little tight in the chest with nerves, with little butterflies in my stomach and a weird sense of hypervigilance. i’m wondering if the ache in my right knee is something to worry about, or a figment of my imagination. i’m not getting a lot of work done, because i keep checking tomorrow’s weather … in louisville.

that’s right, folks — i’ve got the prerace jitters.

here’s the thing: i don’t even know if i’m going to go. it’ll be a gametime decision.

more than that, it’s not a race i care about, or one that i would plan on doing well in. in the alphabet soup of low-level amateur races, with A races being the ones you care about, B races being the ones you come into fit and ready to go, and C races being the ones you enter with limited expectations, hoping only to finish upright (an admirable goal in its own right, i know) — in that pantheon, this is a solid D.

i mean, i’m not at fighting weight, i’ve got a six-month-case of sleep deprivation (that oddly enough coincides with the age of my son), and although training has gone relatively well so far, i know i’ve got a long way to  go.

easy, right? just go, get the feel of the pack, don’t do anything stupid, and see where you are? what’s to be nervous about?

i tell myself all of that and more — and it does no good. i mean, it’s ten o’clock in the morning friday, and i’m mentally packing my raceday bag (don’t forget recovery powder — ooh, and it might rain, so get your poncho in there) and trying to remember any strange noises my bike was making on my last ride and when can i clean and oil the chain don’t forget that and do i need new bar tape don’t be silly and and and …

the good thing is, i know this feeling, and i know that it’s good to have it before any race. if i went into a race just “thinking of it like a fast group ride,” or “not really caring about it,” i’d be fooling myself. because no matter what it is for me, it’s someone’s A race (or even if it’s not, someone’s going to decide partway through the race that he’s making it an A race), and that means someone’s going to take chances, and not necessarily smart ones. and that’s what makes any race really unlike a fast group ride, and why it’s good to worry about preparation and have your spidey-senses tingling. plus, no matter how you cut it: this is why we do it, why we bundle up for sixty cold miles in february, or suffer through another interval workout on the trainer in the dark basement with only the ipod as company, or skip that dessert. we race. and racing season is about to begin, for me either tomorrow or in a couple weeks at hueston woods. we should get excited.

so on second thought, don’t talk me down: i’m right where i want to be.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “talk me down, please

  1. I was thinking of doing the same thing. Think I might hit the Kentuckiana series next weekend. You know the squirrels will be out at Hueston Woods. Good to get one or two out of the way and turn your pre-race jitters into a pre-race chill before the local world championships start.

    • life with a six-month-old is what happened. no sleep for the wife or me, no race for me. at least i got the first round of prerace jitters outta the way, even if for nothing.

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