The funny thing about doing this triathlon isn’t that I don’t swim or that I’m not competitive or that I haven’t really trained. The funny thing is that when I say I’m doing it the response is always: “A full tri?”
(No, it’s a sprint.)
“OH. Just a sprint.”
Yeah, just a sprint. Just a 750-meter swim, 14-mile bike and 3.1-mile run. And that to me is quite a feat. Because isn’t it all relative? This is the furthest outside my comfort zone I’ve ever put myself (in terms of physical performance). So while I know I can run that far and bike that far (not totally sure I can swim that far, to be honest), I’m not confident I can do all of them in succession or that I can do any of them much faster than at my leisure.
I work out but I’m not an athlete. I lack that drive to win. Whether it’s beating others or beating my own best, I’ve just never been interested. Back in my long-distance running days I’d go out without a watch or a route and just run until I didn’t want to anymore. I just like to move and be alone, I think.
And that adds another layer of anxiety to my triathlon stress parfait: so many people.
I don’t like the idea of all the crowds and the other racers and the yelling and that palpable, pulsing energy. I’m a weird quiet little lone duck. My ideal scenario for this race would be to have my own solo starting time like 5 minutes after everyone else so I can just run it alone.
But maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe what they say about races and the energy and the encouragement is true and I’ll feel better than ever in all that commotion. We’ll know on Saturday. Until then, here is a current but not comprehensive list of all of my fears:
- I’m wearing the wrong thing. I have no gear. I was just going to wear some dri-fit shorts and a sports bra that will function as a swimsuit and everything else for the rest of the day and leave my shoes by my bike. Am I supposed to have some kind of water shoes? Wet suit? Surely not. Probably.
- I contract a mysterious parasite. I’ve been watching Monsters Inside Me on Animal Planet, a show about super rare parasitic infections and this one 16-year-old girl died after a parasite ate her brain. Cause: water up the nose while swimming outside. SO MUCH CONCERN.
- I get kicked in the face. This is a swimming fear only. I certainly hope no one kicks me in the face while I’m running. That would mean that their legs are abnormally long and also that they have no control over them.
- I fall off my bike. Clearly this is not an illogical concern because I’ve already done this once.
- I oversleep. This fear should be number one since it precedes all others but seriously… What if I forget to wake up?
- I throw up or poop or something. DON’T ACT LIKE YOU HAVEN’T HEARD THESE HORROR STORIES. I want nothing to come out of my body but sweat. I like to think I’m in total control of all bodily functions but so did all those runners who have pooped their pants over the years. Shudder.
- My knees suck. I don’t run long distances anymore because my knees tend to crap out around 3 miles which (wouldn’t you know it) is exactly how far I have to run.
- I go the wrong way. What if… stay with me here… What if I am so far behind everyone else that I come to a fork in the road and am not sure which way to go so I go the wrong way and am just cycling aimlessly through southern North Carolina for DAYS? Think about it.
- I don’t finish in time. The max time allotted on the course is 2.5 hours. Does this not seem kind of short?
- I get in someone’s way. I may not be competitive but everyone else is. What if I knock over a whole row of bikes or something? Oh god.
- I find a cat on the course. This would actually be super great and I would just stop and pick it up and take it home.
I think that covers everything for now. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be just fine. After all, it’s just a tri.