The unknown… an experience that is familiar to us all. The mind starts working overtime imagining all sort of crazy things, the good, the bad, what may happen out there or what may not happen for that matter! The nerves build up and the body starts reacting to the fear we have imposed on it… If you dare to think about this for just a minute, you have just created a number of different positive and dare I say it negative scenarios in your mind and there’s a very good chance you’ve attached those associated feelings with it… scary huh?!
So after a year off racing, and even though I have done this racing business my whole life….I found myself even more out of touch than usual. Even though I have a good understanding of how the state of my mind impacts my body, my health, happiness and yep racing results! I turned up for my first hit out in 12 months with a scrambled head, battling some kind of virus and getting a result that I wasn’t entirely happy with… all though after 2 weeks of analysing it’s amazing how I can say I’m happy with the experience.
When you have been racing for as many years as I have some things become routine, packing the bike, packing the bags, sitting around in airports, race registration, getting your race bag to see if there’s anything in it worth keeping (yes I do that too), checking in your bike… you get my drift. I usually panic about one or two things to do with my bike, after 17 years I have established that this is nerves. And I do it every race! But there is one thing that never seems to go away, that feeling of the unknown, not knowing how you are going to feel out there. I had put Port Mac 70.3 on schedule because I knew I had to do a race, one I needed to do hard training session, two I needed to practice going through the motions of going to a race, if you haven’t done it in while you are most definitely out of practice. So yes, I entered Port Mac to practice dealing with my nerves, setting up my little transition and practicing not have a cluttered mind while racing…. Haha. Yes, easier said than done. So let me run through my day and you will see how the state of mind was far from perfect and yet, it provided me with everything needed to learn. Yep, still learning …
Race morning, I didn’t feel super nervous. That means that I could eat my breakfast, quick cup of coffee and head down to transition to put the final touches on my bike. Sometimes you get those stomach butterflies that make eating such a chore….I didn’t have those. Interesting, 12 months off no butterflies. Good start.
I set up everything super quick, looking around I wondered if I had forgotten something because some people seemed to be spending some serious time at their bikes. Ahh there we go, head scramble number one! All of sudden I couldn’t decide whether to race with the new tyre inflation device Russ got me or not.. I hadn’t used it before, I looked at the instructions, it can’t be that hard. I will ditch the spare tyre, it’s only a 70.3. Although I didn’t fancy being stuck out in middle of nowhwere.. Seriously Jodie, stop entertaining the idea of you are going to get a flat tyre! Yep, the mind it was already winding up. After setting up transition, time to get suited, lubed and ready for the swim start.
The race organisers decided it was good idea to call the pros individually down to the swim start, so much for my ducking under the radar and not letting anyone know I was racing. I really did just want to get through the race and have a solid training day. All well, suck it up this is what it’s about, you wanted to pursue this avenue of racing Jodie. My swim start was surprisingly good, my ability to hold it was not! The swim is one of my strengths but on this day I had absolutely no strength. I seemed to be having trouble holding the water and felt quite weak. I tried to focus on long strokes, finishing off my stroke and finding a good rhythm. I lost touch with the pack in front and was swimming by myself the whole way back to transition. I couldn’t believe how weak I felt, I was sure that I was the last pro in the water and was waiting for the waves behind to catch me. My head started to fall apart, if swimming is my strength and I can’t put this together my day is pretty much over. Reaching the finish I ran through transition to see a number of bikes in the rack, so I wasn’t last.
I fumbled getting on bike, I told myself to get it together and spin out of town. My heart rate was through the roof, I don’t wear a monitor but I could feel it beating out of my chest! I had worked a lot harder than I would have liked just to get through the swim. The ride is where I thought I could make up a bit of time and get myself into a reasonable position. But like the swim, the power and strength just were not there. The coarse dead road (which is atrocious!) and the hills were taking it out of me and I knew it was going to be a struggle. The whole ride I let my head take over again, I should feeling better this, this isn’t how I ride and I would look at the other girls ahead of me each time we passed in the opposite direction. Not too many positive thoughts were going through my mind, but I kept trying to pull myself up saying ‘just get through the bike it’s only 90km’, ‘it’s your first race back in ages just treat as a good training hit out’… But once a racer, always a racer... It’s very hard to put the ego aside and say I’m okay with this and this is just not the day for you. It’s funny, because it’s probably only you and your nearest and dearest who care about how you perform. The loved ones do, because they have to deal with the aftermath :-)
I got back to transition, took my time putting my running gear on and ran out onto the run course. The first km’s are generally always ugly trying to get the running legs going, but after my swim and ride, I wasn’t feeling overly confident. Part of me was convinced that I would run well, we live in one of the most hilly places in Brisbane, everywhere I go there is a hill! So if I can do something, it’s run through the hills. I got just out of town, stopping and starting again. I knew I wasn’t 100% and it really wasn’t happening today. I was watching people run past me and I had nothing. I was trying not to cry, and I walked off the run course and hung my head over rail overlooking the beach. The tears flowed freely I started questioning whether I was still able to do this sport... Awful thoughts came into my mind, and I questioned my ability. One of the amazing volunteers came over to see if I was okay, they are always so positive and happy and want everyone to finish and do well. Her smile and positive energy was amazing and she encouraged me to keep going. I agreed with her that I should keep going, no matter how I finish and I walked back onto the course. I told myself if I was at home, I would be training anyway. So just get out there and do a long run! An age group man came past and encouraged me to run with him, so I did. Now resigning myself to the fact that I was going to finish, but not how I had initially hoped I kept moving forward watching the competitors and the expressions on their faces. Watching how each person was dealing with the race and the pain. Now engrossed in everyone else out there….I seemed to be running again. I went through half way and finally spotted my supporter, my Mum! Had I see her earlier, I’m sure I would have pulled out. I stopped briefly to chat to her and told I was going to try finish. I then stopped to give my good friend Amanda a hug, her words of advice “you are not here to win, you are here to get fit”, I agreed and told her I was going to finish and another lap later I did. The funny thing was in my last 5-8km I started to feel much better and was tapping along with a nice little rhythm. Maybe another couple of laps and I would have been good!
Crossing the line, I saw Amanda again. We both agreed the mental battle I had endured had to do more with my ego being affected more than anything else! Watching the race pass me by was hard, but pulling out of the event would have been worse. I have had to do this in previous races, and trust me is the most awful feeling that one can experience. Finishing that race I felt a sense of accomplishment, even though it was probably one of my worst performances in terms of time and result. I got more from that race than you can possibly imagine. It showed me how leading up to the race my mind was it such a poor state and I possibly even created my virus. Coming away from an experience like that has given me so much to work on, the physical, the technical and most importantly the mental. It also allowed me to take the pressure off, the first race to blow out the cobwebs has been done and I can now move forward working on my training and upcoming races.
My next race is Ironman Western Australia… Physically will I be ready? I am not sure.. But I do know that if I can monitor my thoughts and keep them in check leading up to and during the race, the experience will be a lot more positive and rewarding :-)