Posted by: Tina | May 2, 2010

What it means to race

In two weeks, I will race in my second ever triathlon. It’s just a short one – 500m swim, 20km bike, and 5km run – but it’s going to be very different from my first one. I ran that first triathlon with a huge grin on my face the whole way. I rode my hybrid commuter bike, wearing my running shoes, and grinning at my competitors. I didn’t train in a strategic, focused way. I had fun.

This race is different because I have been training and, this time, I want to be fast. I don’t have illusions of winning, or even placing very high in my age category, but I want to be fast by my standards. The bar was set in that first triathlon, and now I expect to beat my times. Some of my training has been hard for me. I have often had to employ my mental reserves to keep going in a workout, especially any workout that called for me to go at “race pace”. In that first triathlon, when it started to get hard, I let myself slow down. In this race, when I want to slow down, my training capacity is going to have to kick in because I am going to have to say to myself, “Don’t slow down, you know you can hold this pace, and it hurts, but you can do it.” I doubt I will be grinning.

This is the difference between racing and just finishing. Just finishing was only acceptable for my first race. Now I get to race against me. I will try to squeeze out that smile after I cross the finish line.

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