02 May Pre-race jitters
The big race is tomorrow. I’m fine, really. I have talked myself out of the ‘I want to vomit,’ feeling. Actually, I’m just thinking of the post-ride beer. That, and a giant chocolate chunk cookie from La Gourmand coffee shop–it’s more chocolate than cookie. Hey, don’t judge. Everyone has their motivation. Actually, the motivation certainly goes deeper than a cookie.
Just to bring you up to speed, I did the pre-ride yesterday: it’s two laps of a 6.8 kilometre loop full of twists and turns, burms and fast straight-aways. Only two big hills and it’s not a technical course.
So, back to the motivation.
Tomorrow, I will compete. Against other women. I tried out for a sport team for the first time in grade 11 to meet people when I moved to British Columbia from Nova Scotia. Long story short: the volleyball coach took me aside: “maybe you should try badminton.” And so, at 42, it’s something I decided I wanted to take on for a few reasons.
I like the discipline. Yes, I already work out. Yes, I already eat healthy. But, what if I could do more? What if I could just see how good I can feel? How strong I can perform? And, what, if at the end of all this, I can become a better rider? And what, just maybe, would happen if I didn’t have that glass of wine every day? Competition is discipline and it makes you better.
And who can forget that certain something we all need more of from time to time: confidence. When doubt sets in, I repeat: “even though you’re scared, you’re a strong and competent rider.” Something starts to happen when you repeat mantras. I’ve done it other parts of my life when I need encouragement, and this is no different. You start to believe. Absorb the words. I don’t care if this sounds hokey– it works for me.
Finally, when it comes right down to it, it’s fun. Zipping through the forest, hearing your heart in your throat, surrounded by good people, getting bruises: these are all good things.
Mel’s pre-ride jitter tips:
- listen to really happy uplifting music. And hey, if the Rocky theme song does it for you (it does for me!) then go for it.
- breathe. Lots. Inhale in one nostril while holding the other, then hold the other and exhale. Alternate.
- immerse yourself in something. Get your mind off the riding for a wee bit.
- visualize the course and how you’ll feel during parts of it (this is advice from my coach, mentor, bike friend)
- have a mentor (when someone who has raced before can give you some guidance, it feels amazing)
- remember fear is good: it means you care and that you have fire in your belly.
- remember why you’re doing this. It’s your race and no one else’s.