" There are no victories except the joy you are living while dancing your run; you are not running for some future reward, the real reward is now!"-Fred Rohe Author "The Zen of Running"
I was starting to get a little nervous about racing at PATCO in Dallas. It's not unusual for me to get nervous before a race. This is the Pan American Championship and my first time racing as an elite paratriathlete.
I ended up not having to go through medical classification. There was not enough classification appointments, so I was given provisional permission to compete. My next opportunity will come in Chicago next month.
To prepare mentally this week I have been reading the book "Running Within" by Jerry Lynch and Warren Scott.
In the book they talk about how race nerves can cause performance issues and errors. A little bit of anxiety can help an athlete perform well, too much can have a negative effect. The more nervous you are the more chance there is to make mistakes and the bigger the chance is for your performance as an athlete to be affected. Being too tense can also take away the fun of doing a triathlon and sprint races can be a lot of fun. Just long enough to be a challenge, but not physically draining.
One thing that helped me is I realized that I chose to do this race. No one is making me do this. I circled this race on my calender months ago. I applied and was accepted to race for the U.S. Team. There are six categories for paratriathlon including a category for neuromuscular conditions. I will be the only U.S. member in my category,racing against several very talented athletes that are much faster and about 20 years younger. The group includes the reigning world champion.
One of the stories the authors tell is about scholar Joesph Campbell. In 1920 he was an elite half miler on the Columbia track team. In one of the few races he lost he explained it was because he cared too much about winning rather than running the race like the champion he was.
Like Campbell I have had to let go of winning or getting a certain time. My goal is to run well, have fun and be mistake free. That will be my success. I want to run the best race possible for me. I want to keep learning and improving as an athlete. I will be so proud to represent my country.
I realize I am well trained and have everything I need to meet my goal for the race. I will race well. I have worked so hard this off season. I have not missed one workout. This experience is not about winning or losing. It is about the achieving the goal of competing on this level. Just the process of getting ready for a race like this has changed me as an athlete. I am eating healthy, I've trained both my body and mind for success. So how I finish is not as important as the person I've become and the changes I have made. I have joy and excitement in my racing. All of that is more important than any podium finish.