The tri is one week away. Yikes! My mental state varies between nervous and confident. Chad and I just went for a nice bike ride through GG Park, around Lake Merced, back through the Presidio (up the long climb to the Legion of Honor, down the hill by the golf course, up the long climb past Baker Beach), then home. 22 miles in 1:36, which isn’t bad, considering the first 12 miles were nice and flat and the last 10 miles were climbing and descending. And it’s hot out. I haven’t really been training much in heat lately.
But there are two things I really want to blog about. First off, I think it’s amazing how this training has changed my attitude about exercise. In the beginning, I was so embarrassed wearing bike shorts around. I wanted to get in shape to look better. Now, I don’t really care what I look like. Sure, I’d like to look a little better in my bike shorts, but now I value exercise for what I can physically accomplish. I can run 5.5 miles! I can swim over a mile! I can bike 25+ miles! Training for this has completely turned my thinking around. I don’t care how many calories I burn. I want to run farther, bike faster, swim stronger. And the cool thing is, I’m doing just that.
The other thing I want to write about is the talk we had the other day by a sports psychologist, Dr. Jim Taylor. It was really, really cool. He talked a lot about the mental training that I now realize I should have been doing all along. Especially the positive self-talk. He talked about running into frustration while training or in the event. “Is frustration a good or bad thing?” he asked. “Bad!” we all said. “Initially, it’s a good thing.” Since frustration indicates that there’s an obstacle in your way that you want to get past, it can be a good thing. The key is what you do with it. If you ignore it, it can turn to anger. “Is anger a good or bad emotion?” “Bad!” Initially, that’s good, too, apparently, because it indicates that you really, really want to overcome that goal. The flip side, though, is that your body tenses up and you can’t think clearly, so your brain and body prevent you from being able to overcome it. If you let that go, then it can turn to despair, and you’re in deep trouble if you let it get to that point in a race.
He said that if you run into an obstacle, try to calm down, think reasonably, and find a way around it, sometimes by reassessing your goals. He talked about how he was training to go a sub 3-hour marathon. He did one in 3:10, then one in 3:04. So he trained really hard, and in his next marathon, he was keeping up his pace, keeping on track with his goal, and then, with 10 miles left, a 20 mph head wind started up. So he tried to keep his goal and just kept focused on that. He was able to pretty much keep up his pace, and 200 yards from the finish, he heard the crowd cheering and the announcer say, “Sprint and you can make it under 3 hours!” So he did, he pushed it all out, and as he crossed the finish line, he looked up at the clock: 3:00:04. Agony! But then he looked at his watch for the chip time: 2:59:54.
Another cool thing he said was that endurance events aren’t like tennis. Unless you’re trying to win your age group, everyone who crosses the finish line is a winner. “And I’ve been 100% so far,” he said. That’s all I want, really, to cross the finish line. (Although I do think I can do it in less than 4 hours…)