This is not a new distance for me. I've done it before, albeit in a different location. I've actually done this distance, successfully, three times in Penticton, British Columbia.
No. Why this will be the biggest race of my life is because it is taking me way out of my comfort zone.
- I'm coming back from an injury
- I've spent a year doing nothing
- It is an early-in-the-year race
- My endurance training has been minimal
- My run is "challenged"
- I've had a very stressful few months at work
- I'm really not in a "race" frame of mind.
I am starting to get a little excited about the prospect, mind you. I spent two nights doing all my race gear prep. That means finding everything I will need to wear and have with me on race day. That includes:
- the clothes I will wear on the morning of the race (and post-race)
- all my race clothing
- my nutrition and disposable bottles
- my chip belt
- my race belt
- Benadryl for scary creepy crawly stings
- other meds
- And bike, shoes, tools, helmet, towel, wetsuit, goggles, Garmin, bodyglide...
The reality is, I am ready. I am more than ready. I have no intention of winning this race. But I will finish and finish strong. This is a long race. This can be a grueling, cruel race. I maintain that at least 50 per cent of it in mental - or as some friends say: "You must be mental to do this!"
I've done the distance before. I know what my body will feel like. I know when to push and when to relax. I'll know when to run and when to walk. I'll know what all the salt covering my clothes mid-race means, and I know how that unslakable thirst is related.
I'll know when to eat and when to drink. I'll know when to catch up to and pass other riders and when to fall back and not draft.
I'll know when to swim fast and when to coast. And, most of all, I'll know not to let the negative self-talk that will creep into my head and throughout my whole being take hold of my resolve.
There is more riding on this race than just my comeback to triathlon and endurance. I'm undergoing a transformation and a redefinition and I do not have a end goal in mind, or in sight.
This very familiar journey that will tax my body, my brain and my resolve will take me through some very familiar routes - mentally, spiritually and physically. Of course I will persevere. But what I'm ultimately looking for is the serendipity.
Somewhere on the course. I don't know if it will be in the swim, or the bike or the run. It might even be while I sit in transition, wondering what I'm doing so far from home. It will be at some yet unknown moment that the clarity that I found when I first started this journey will again show itself to me.
That clarity, is a gift that comes only through toil. It is in that serendipitous clarity, that all the doubt and uncertainty that has been the hallmark of my cluttered mind this year will dissipate. And, for an albeit brief moment, I will see where I have to go and what I have to do.
And this, and only this, will energize me anew.
The race begins anon.