Monday, September 21, 2009

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

LESS THAN THREE WEEKS UNTIL IRONMAN!

We generally have lots of butterflies year round in Kona but you won't see many right now. Why? Because I'm convinced that they have started congregating in my stomach and I'm pretty sure they'll be staying there until the canon goes off at 7 a.m. October 10. 

Butterflies: How can something so beautiful and graceful make you feel so unsettled, unprepared and plain old scared? And how do they get into your stomach anyhow? 

Well, ever how they get there, I have a stomach full of them and their effect is bringing on doubt and lots of negative self-talk: I should have trained more, went longer, pushed harder. I'm not ready for this. That inner voice seems to be getting louder as Ironman draws closer. It's a struggle every day to keep a positive attitude. 

Sunday's Peaman race, a three-quarter-mile swim and 3.9-mile run helped some. Floating in the water at Kailua Pier Sunday morning waiting for the countdown for the swim portion of the race to start, I tried to visualize it was the start of the Ironman. I positioned myself at about where I'm planning to for Ironman - not at the front but not at the back and off to the left. I  got behind a few people and made sure there were people just behind me. Just to make it feel like it was crowded.

I looked across the bay and tried to visualize the boat way out there that marks the Ironman turnaround. Dang, that's a long ways ... Peaman counted down 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... GO! I visualized hearing the canon fire. Then feet, elbows, hands and bubbles were everywhere. You gotta love a Peaman race. It's the best practice in the world for triathlon swims. 

I must of visualized the Ironman swim start pretty well because I began to panic thinking of nearly 2,000 swimmers surrounding me. I got instantly claustrophobic and seriously began thinking I can't handle this; it's too scary; too much for me; I'm not good enough. At that moment I pulled off to the left and out of the pack of swimmers I was with losing my draft and falling behind. I thought about stopping and heading back to the beach, but no. I needed to face my fear. I headed back to the right and caught the tail-end of the pack of swimmers. 

By the time we were at the turn around buoy I was right in the middle of several swimmers. Making the turn I got hit, climbed over, and cut off but I never slowed down. After the turn it was time to stretch out, grab some feet and head for home. Fear faced. Panic over.

The run was a big positive that I'm going to hold onto these coming weeks. I ran nearly 4 miles faster than I usually run 3 miles. And each mile was getting faster. I finished with a 7 minute, 15 second mile, which is amazing for me. And on tired legs, too. I haven't ran a 7:15 mile in more than 30 years so you can bet I'm gonna hang onto that to help chase away the negative talk.

So the next 3 weeks as I begin to taper my training, I'm going to be dealing with a lot of second guessing. Wondering if I did it right. Did I go long enough, hard enough? And the biggest question: Am I ready? YES! YES! AND YES! I have to believe that. I have to remember that I have pushed myself, physically and mentally to the limit. I have done it right. All that's left is to show up at the starting line, face some fears and race smart.

Over the past few months I've been building a lot of positive memories along the Ironman course. Putting them in the bank for race day, as Bree Wee says. Hopefully as I taper and begin to rest up for race day I'll continue building positive memories and keep the negative talk and self-doubting at bay. 

Oh, and if you happen to see any butterflies around town please, please shoo them away from where ever I'm at. I've got more than my stomach can manage already. 

2 comments:

Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

I did not get butterflies for things like the Honu race (the one which really counted for me) but on race morning my lower back ached from the nerves, and it was only when I started swimming after the gun went off that I got back to normal. The Ironman is a day you can relax as you have all day to do it, and it doesn't matter where everyone else is unless you are Macca. I would play it safe though. The last thing you want is to be viciously attacked by a mob of wild swimmers.

debbie said...

I really like Butterflies!!

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