Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were a mainstay of music for children of the 80s. One of his songs seems quite applicable to the days approaching a big race. The training is over and race day looms. The last few days prior to the race are always a roller coaster of emotions. The waiting truly is the hardest part.
It's something that never seems to go away. Oh, we can do things to try and take our minds off of the approaching test. We throw ourselves at our work, and find ourselves distracted by the need to take another look at the course layout. We play with our kids, but soon find our attention focusing on the race expo events. And late at night, when we should be sleeping, thoughts about gear preparation sneak into our minds and keep us awake. The waiting is the hardest part.
Months out, our focus is on training. We register for that big race, and then put our all into getting prepared, making sure we are ready to bring our A Game to our A Race. We test nutrition plans, purchase new gear and gadgets, and barely consider the race itself. Weeks out, we shift our attention to tapers and reduced training. But that focus is not all consuming. Days out, just like other life changing events, our attention becomes more and more focused away from everyday events and onto that big race. The waiting is the hardest part.
Gremlins start to pop up everywhere they see weakness. Am I ready for the open water swim? Are those mechanical problems from the bike going to crop up, again? Has the training been sufficient for the task at hand? The little buggers pick the last days before the race to begin an earnest attack on self-confidence. The waiting is the hardest part.
But race day will come, as it always does. And the waiting will end. The gun will sound, the gremlins will be left in the wake of swimming bodies, and we will see that the training was sufficient. It will be challenging, just as the training was. But the race won't be the biggest challenge. The waiting is the hardest part.