Oceanside 70.3: A Psychology Lesson

April 11, 2017

 

I crossed the finish line at Oceanside 70.3 last weekend with a smile and the energy that comes with the finishers’ chute. What a gorgeous venue to kick off the 2017 season! That coupled with friend reunions, amazing race support and a kick-ass homestay had me bursting with good vibes as I finished. First race of the season: CHECK!

In the days following the race, however, I’ve been preoccupied with some major introspection (ok, ok, I over-analyze things!) My initial buzz gradually faded to some disappointment and frustration as I looked at numbers, comparing my result to last year’s. My performance did not meet my expectations. I know the work I’ve put in this winter and spring, and I’m in better shape physically than I have ever been this early in the season. So what’s the deal?

(Above: will smile for cheers! Thanks Karin! Right: rockstar homestay hosts, the Slade family.)

With my sights set on Ironman Texas on April 22nd, I carried more fatigue into this race than usual. Physically I didn’t feel like I had that extra oomph needed to really dig. Mentally, I felt focused and engaged all day- so it’s a bummer when the body doesn’t quite respond. But I think there’s a little more to it than that.

Racing is as much a test of the mind as it is of the body. One of my strengths is maintaining a positive outlook even when storm clouds threaten to surround me. This approach is no different in a race, and in fact becomes critical to my racing success. I have experienced the downward mental negativity spiral during a race and it S-U-C-K-S. On the flip side, sometimes I can talk myself into “enjoying the day” or finding something to “celebrate” out there to the point where my scrappiness fades. The ability to stay positive can be a real strength…but I am also wondering if it is becoming a hindrance.

Am I afraid to fail? Yes. Am I afraid of my ability to cope with the pain when I really find the end-point of my body’s stamina? Perhaps. But those fears are nothing compared to the fear of not reaching my true potential as an athlete. I have definitely finished races where I gave it my all. And nothing compares to that feeling of knowing I truly raced my best on the day.

 

Another aspect of race psychology that I’ve been working on (for, like, years) is confidence. What is confidence? It seems to be more of an intangible realization rather than something that can be defined. My coach, my husband and several friends have contemplated this with me and I have a pretty good inner monologue of their thoughts and perspective to keep me going well through an entire Ironman. One that MFMG just quoted to me the other day was a line from the Matrix: “You just know it. Through and through. From balls to bones.”

(Above: Coach Flanny made the trip. 

Below: second-guessing my decision to

jog a 5k the following day)

Alright, now I haven’t met with the Oracle and I don’t have balls (well, maybe the proverbial kind) but I get the message. My body is ready, now it’s time to get my mind right for the journey ahead.

 

The Oceanside race results are available online. And I could sit here and give a play-by-play of my day (which really wasn’t all that unique or exciting). I think the more important message is what I’m learning as I process the outcome of this race, and how I plan to strengthen my mental game heading into Ironman Texas. Stay tuned!

 

Massive thanks to my sponsors this season: Blue Competition Cycles, Garneau, ISM, Blueseventy, Pioneer, Tri Town, CLIF Bar, K-Edge.

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