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“Black Hole”

The closer Ironman Lake Placid gets, the more anxious I feel. In my head I know that it’s a distance that I have done before. I know that I’m more prepared than I was last year. I know the course. I am going to a training camp. Yet for some reason I cannot help but feel more apprehensive than last year. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t run a marathon since November, or that the last few runs I’ve done have left me feeling miserable and insecure, or that I have so much going on personally that I can’t even begin to make a game plan for race day. At this point, even the thought of doing a 70.3 in two weeks is weighing heavily on my mind. If a few weeks ago I hit the work out “wall,” I guess at this point I have hit “the mental f***.”

Missing my first race of the season due to a nasty and dehydrating GI bug began my spiral. The disappointment of not competing coupled with not knowing my fitness level for the upcoming season has left me feeling insecure and vulnerable to the Gods of Triathlon. I am crapping my pants at the thought of failure at my first sprint tri of the year—a distance that in the past I’ve crushed with my eyes closed. I have actually stalked the competition in my age group. That cannot be a normal thing to do to boost confidence, can it? I am mentally f*****.

After brushing the vomit off of me and rehydrating after my last attempted race, I had the worst 11.5 mile run of my entire life. I have never felt so miserable—I think I shed a tear running, watching my friend run a half mile ahead of me enjoying herself. All I could think was “If I’m unable to run 11.5 miles, how the hell am I going to run 26.2?” I damn-well know that I have done that many times and felt good doing it. My confidence crumbles.

Every week I open Training Peaks and my heart starts to race. I look at the scheduled 5:30 brick and begin to panic. Between a full time job, being a single parent, and balancing all the other things that life throws my way, I have no idea where I’m going to find the time to do that. I think “How am I going to finish this race without completing this one workout?” I try to come up with crafty solutions such as taking time off of work and sucking the vacation time dry. But at the end of the day there is just not enough time every week, and I convince myself that I won’t be able to complete the task at hand. Yet again, I’m trapped in my psychological “screw”.

My race season is quickly approaching and I want to crush my first race. How do I get my mind in the right place? The first thing I’ve done was to take a few days off of work last week. I took care of some personal business, made time for that 5:30 brick (and it felt good…crushed the run), finally got the pedicure I had been talking about for the past 6 months, and got in some really quality workouts. Getting in the open water this week prior to my upcoming race will be the last step in climbing out of my mental black hole.

The struggle to “get out of my head” has been real over the past few weeks, and perhaps more detrimental than hitting the wall. I’m realizing that it’s crazy to think I can’t finish the Ironman because of one (or a handful) of bad or missed workouts. Although the anxiety of the upcoming race season is mounting, I think I’m finally on my way out of the black hole and hoping to do well this weekend in preparation for Raleigh 70.3. Now if someone would just bring me the sacrificial chicken, and, oh yeah, pass the Vitamin C…

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