Monday, July 9, 2012

When do you know you're "ready"?

Many friends who know that I'm about to race an important race next weekend at the Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens.  A race that I've worked for and that may or may not qualify me for a repeat appearance at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.  These friends have all been asking, "Geez you're looking fit.  Are you ready?".  My reply has been, "Honestly?  I really don't know."  The truth is, I'm not sure what 'ready' actually feels like.  Probably because I can't say I've had a race where I've truly felt 'on' and able to access all my fitness; something has always seemed to go awry on race day.

So I'm putting this out there:  What does 'ready' feel like?

I'm hoping I'm feeling it by the time I hit the start line next Sunday.  So far, I've entered the familiar stages of "taper crazies" a.k.a. the Stages Of The Pre-Race Taper:

1) I could be doing more: The feeling that maybe you should skip the stretching/yoga recovery session after a monster training week, in favour of a brick session of hill repeats on the bike and then on a run. After all, there's 6 more days until race day.  You log on to and review your current stats and upcoming schedule.

2) I'm completely exhausted and I can't imagine I'm going to be recovered by race day:  Every muscle in your body is sore and or tired and all you want to do is nap all day and then go to bed.  Meanwhile, there are still 'recovery workouts' and short-duration high-intensity sessions on the schedule.  You log on to and review your stats just before you pass out in the living room.

3) I should have done more:  You get through Stage 2 and miraculously you're starting to feel great.  So great, in fact, that the normal dull nagging feeling that you should be 'doing more' turns into a confidence-challenging voice that's mocking "see, I told you to do more".  I hate that voice.  You log on to and review your stats, hoping to find workouts where inaccurately reported your time/effort.

4) Stages 1 to 3 combined:  This is the dark phase.  Try not to harm yourself or other people during this time.  You start to log onto, but then break down and cry.

5) Race day preparation:  This is more of a coping mechanism than a stage.  Basically, you pack your stuff in order to put your "Type A" personality at ease by controlling something, in this case its making sure that at least all your stuff is ready, even if you're not.  Try to do this without anyone else around, because it's annoying to see you bounce around the house muttering to yourself.  No time for  Logging on may force a regression back to Stage 4.

6) Acceptance:  That stage where you lie to yourself a bit and say "I've done what I can do, the day is going to be whatever it's going to be, and I'm just going to do my best and have fun".  Listen to this lie.  Believe this lie.  Think fondly of your breakthrough workouts.  Stay away from TrainingPeaks.

7) Excitement (i.e. "Ready?):   You allow yourself to believe that today could be a good day.  It could be your best day.  After all, you trusted the process, put the work in, have many more 'completed' workouts than 'dropped', and have heard "Geez, you're looking fit.  Are you ready?" at least a few times in the past 2 weeks.  You stop letting judge you.

So far, I've never made it passed Stage 6.  I've peaked over at Stage 7 once or twice, but never fully arrived.

So, is Stage 7 "ready"?  Am I ready?  Who knows?  Ask me next Monday.

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