Shutting Out the Noise

 I took this today just after sunrise near Santa Monica Pier on an easy recovery ride. My brain will look like this on Sunday. 

I took this today just after sunrise near Santa Monica Pier on an easy recovery ride. My brain will look like this on Sunday. 

First off, an apology. I said I'd write more often and now it's been almost three weeks since my last post. The only thing I can say is I've never been busier with work, writing, training and a little trick up my sleeve that may one day see the light of day. But we're here now, in the final few days before Ironman 70.3 Silverman. And these are my thoughts going into my first race since June 1.

It's noisy in my head. 

The clanging of data is loudest.  I have new power numbers on the bike thanks to a blood lactate threshold test I took on Tuesday. And a rough cycling race plan based on a math and physics-based app called (not to mention my coach's good advice).  Then there's the banging of guilt I feel about racing the weekend of Yom Kippur -- the holiest time of the Jewish year. Though I suppose it's a good sign I picked the one race that sounds like it's named after a Jewish congregant -- Silverman -- to do it. And of course, there's always the shouting of expectations. They're all of my own making, of course. It's not like anybody else is watching this stuff with a laptop and a stopwatch. Or are they? Paranoia is one of my strongsuits too. Finally, the demon voices whisper: "You took too much time off this summer. You're not ready for this race. You need more time.  It's going to be hot out there. Your friends are catching up to you. You're going to be the slowest Wattie Ink athlete on the course, and you're no longer the fastest Fortius athlete. And you're so sore right now. That massage last night was too hard. That LT test was too demanding. Why did you do that during a taper??? You're not recovered enough.  You will fail."

I'm waving all those emotions on, in one giant "bring it on" gesture with my hands. Feed me the fear. Heap on the doubt. Dish it to me.

I drive to the desert tomorrow, alone. I'm going to pick Steph up at the airport in Vegas later in the day. I have a lot to think about. Many voices to quiet in my head, as you can see. But I will. I've been here before. I've made friends with these voices. I know they can be turned on and off, like a switch. I know what it takes to perform well. I know you can't fake belief or excitement or optimism. Either you're ready to blow your guts out in a race, or you're not. I may not be in the shape I usually am in this time of year, but that just means I'll make it hurt more to finish where I usually do. The one thing I can share about my blood lactate test -- I'll be writing a full column on it for Lava Magazine Online -- is that it's clear in my results that my data is nothing special. I race well because, as Coach Gareth Thomas said, "I'm willing to suffer."

So tomorrow, I quiet my mind on a quiet drive to Sin City. I will prepare mentally for what's most important, Yom Kippur. The Day of Atonement, which a clever rabbi once figured out could be spelled as At-One-Ment. The coming together of the self.

I am fractured right now. The voices have free reign, and it's chaos in there. I'm physically sore, I'm a tad stressed out and I haven't even started packing for the trip. But that's OK. The Day of At-One-Ment is coming. And I will become whole. And I will be ready for Sunday. And I'm going to kick a lot of ass.

No matter what the data is telling me. Oh, and those voices? They'll be long gone by then.