I was looking at the countdown to IMKY and felt an oh-so-slight twinge of anxiety. Nothing major, mind you. I didn't have to run to the bathroom to fight down the nausea. There were no worries of peeing my pants in fright. (Well, boxers, it IS late at night).
Just a small, short lived sense of, "Wow, it's nearly down to seven weeks. Given taper, that's only about a month of training left." And a bit of goosebumps as I realized how short things are getting.
All too soon we'll be running the final preparatory races. Not long after that, taper begins for real. Build weeks, recovery weeks, breakthrough workouts, they'll all go by the wayside. Packets will start going out letting us know our race numbers. And months will turn to weeks, which will turn to days.
At some point, the small, short lived hint of anxiety will be replaced with the real thing. The physical battle will be replaced with a mental battle. And some friends I haven't discussed in some time will be back.
They'll start trying to tear down the foundation that has been laid over the past 10 months. They'll pose questions about the effectiveness of swim training. They'll bring up problems from the past. And they'll definitely question preparedness. Was the training enough? Are you ready? Is success really a possibility?
That's when the mental game begins. Defeating gremlins is as vital to race day success as 8-week aerobic base sessions, century bike rides, and nutrition plans. If gremlins find a chink in the armor, a year's worth of training can be rendered pointless by our own minds.
Get ready! Because the gremlins will come. Are you ready to smoosh them?