Pre-race Jitters

Friday, June 29, 2012

I have been doing triathlons for 4 straight years now, and yet I still experience pre-race jitters. The feeling is both unnerving and comforting. Comforting because it means the multisport passion is still alive. I once told myself that the day I feel nothing about a race is the day I retire from the sport. Unnerving because the race outcome remains uncertain. 

On Sunday I will do Tri United 2 in Playa Laiya -- 2km ocean swim, 60km bike, 15km swim. I've done similar distance in Matabungkay last year with pathetic results. Although I did not finish last, I agonized over the tsunami swim, tensed out in the Puting Kahoy curve downhills, and plodded my way through the run.

This year I race fresh from swim stroke deconstruction and time trial bike fiiting experiment. The past three months I taught myself bilateral breathing on the swim. Just when I was about to pat myself for finally being comfortable with the breathing pattern, a swim time trial shattered my confidence. This slow 3-minutes per 100m swimmer can no longer keep this pace! I am doing something wrong and I better find it out fast. I experimented here and there, but my trial times fluctuate by as much as 30 seconds per 100m. In desperation and probably forced wisdom, I asked a friend and teammate to correct my stroke and coach me.

Boy I was in for a lot of hard truths. I have no proper catch. Either I don't have it to begin with or I lost it while changing my breathing pattern. I thought I was horizontal enough, but my slow kicking legs dip and drag. It hurt and amazed me that I actually swam faster with a pull buoy than with legs kicking. And I discovered all these only last week! Now you know why I am jittery. I know what to do and how to correct these, but I don't have the time to practice and put these all together. All I  have are years of leisurely swimming and innate fascination with the water. May these prove enough for me to navigate the reportedly typhoon-induced choppy waters.

As for the bike, my race will live or die depending on how I fare on the aero position. I have one sleek ride (Ceepo Venom) but comfort fit remains my holy grail. I've had bike fit in a reputable bike store, but adjustments have to be made for my bulk, belly and balance. I keep asking myself: am I just not used to the position, or is there something wrong with the fit? The aero position improved a bit with my adjustments on the aerobar, pads and stem, but the journey for that best fit continues.

So I race on Sunday with those familiar feelings of hope and jitters. As always, it will be done on sheer will and God's grace.


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