I'm in Paso Robles at the La Quinta Inn with my friends Chris, Tia and Mike, winding down our preparations for tomorrow's Wildflower Long Course triathlon. It's 8:30 p.m. and we're going to bed for a 5:15 a.m. wakeup call.
It's been an exhausting two days. Yesterday, I took the day off from work to focus on race prep and getting my head straight. Instead, I worked from home and completed two upcoming articles for Lava Magazine Online -- one of them ironically dedicated to stress management. I went to bed last night cranky, tired and felt bad because I took it out on Stephanie. It's the taper, I told myself. But still, there's really no excuse to be a brat.
My mood continued through this morning, when I rushed out the door in a blur after submitting both articles and arriving late for our scheduled 9 a.m. caravan time. I was frazzled and couldn't have been further from my desired mental place a day before racing. I needed quiet time. Badly.
However, when you travel with a group anywhere, that's not what you're going to get. So, taking a lesson from one of the professional triathletes I interviewed for the stress column, I controlled the situation as best I could and got quiet within my own mind. I thought about what I could do to have a great race, the important steps to enjoying a great race. For once, I tried not to think about hitting a specific timeframe, which is difficult for someone as competitive as I am.
While I'm not sure how this approach will play out tomorrow, I do know it helped me today once my group and I entered the Wildflower expo area. G-d and G-dess bodies abound at the lake. Everyone is ripped, dressed in their pre-race compression gear and looking ready to absolutely crush the course. My friends noticed several competitors and called them out to each other, questioning whether they could beat them. I remained silent. I can't control their performance. Or anyone else's but mind. It doesn't matter who's faster than me. What matters is did I run the best race I could, and how can I ensure I achieve my potential.
I am nervous for tomorrow morning. Who isn't before a big race? But I feel prepared. I know I belong here, along with the athletes who might look the part better than I do and even talk the talk better. I am aware, but I am not afraid.
So for once, instead of sizing up the competition, I'm simply sizing up myself. And, despite a hectic two days preceding the race, I like what I see.
58 days and counting.