When I am running, in my head my running style is the same smooth, floating style as Steve Cram.
If I step out of my head for a moment and into the real world, I know none of this is true – but that doesn’t matter. Right now I am preparing for a battle which, in the absence of injury or a mechanical problem, will be largely won or lost in my head.
With ten days to go, there is little I can do to my body that will improve my chances on 20th July – that small task has consumed most of the last six months but is now largely complete. All I can do is to try and keep my fitness levels where they are and stay sharp for race day. So a lot of my time now is being spent working on what is going on in my head.
Someone asked me the other day if I was getting psyched up for the big day. Are you kidding? Psyched up? I have been permanently psyched up for the last two months. I can’t watch an Ironman motivational video without bursting into tears. Even following my friends via the online athlete tracker as they did Ironman France I was welling up. My problem isn’t getting psyched up, it’s trying to stay calm!
In an ideal world I would like to remain calm right up to the moment when the hooter goes at 6.00am on Sunday week. When the hooter does go, I hope I can go calmly about my business. There is no hurry and it is likely to be a very long day, so no rush of blood to the head needed.
A far more likely scenario is a week of obsessing about the problems before and during the race. Once you go looking for them, there are lots to be found.
Sheephouse Lane, one of the two climbs on the bike course seems to have found its way into many peoples’ heads to the extent that it is now bigger by reputation than it is on the map! But such is the size of the task that it is not surprising that I, and hundreds of other first timers like me, are all very nervous and allowing our minds to run riot. Managing the mind is a big challenge!
Apart from some training and some mind games, the next ten days is all about getting organised. I have lots to do – bike service, change the tyres, new cleats, check wet suit over, get a massage, pack my kit, unpack it, check it and pack it again (that little loop will consume two days alone!) and so the list goes on.
And then next week there is the haircut! For Ironman I am going short. Short is normally the preserve of kids or men who are bald and who if they didn’t shave it all would look like Friar Tuck. I don’t qualify on either count. I could try and pretend short is more aerodynamic on the bike, but as I will be wearing a helmet throughout, that excuse won’t wash either.
The truth is that it is another small part of the mind games. I want to look like I mean business. In my mind I want feel like I could be an Ironman. As with my imaginary view of my running and swimming style, sometimes in this game that is so dependent on your mind, it is not what you really are that matters, it is what you think you are!
Have a relaxing and productive last ten days everyone. Not long now!