Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Driven by Fear

The race anxiety dreams have started.  I get them most every time.  Usually, it involves things like dreaming I am still at the hotel when the starting gun goes off, or being unable to find my bags in transition, or trying to do the swim in my bike shoes.

This time, they all involve gorgeous scenery of warm, green, endless forests, bisected by a smooth road that rolls endlessly upward.  I climb and climb until I can't anymore.  In one dream I clipped out and put a foot on either side of my bike and started shuffling upward like an old-fashioned walking bike.  Last night, my pedals got heavier and heavier until I realized I was wearing my duty boots from my police chaplain days.

I think I'm a little worried about the bike portion of this race.

I was "talking" via Facebook with one of my teammates yesterday.  He was trying to reassure me that there are no 24% grades in Bend, and that at worst it gets to maybe 10 or 12% plus a bit of altitude at the very top.  Essentially the air gets thin and you ride up a hill.  He characterized it as "challenging", I think.

This freaks me out.  My teammate is about 7 feet tall and runs 6 minute miles and bikes an average of 27 miles an hour.  Really, he's tougher than me.

My teammate tried to reassure me, talking about this being a mental game.

He's entirely right.

Tri is a hugely mental discipline.  At some point every race stops being about what you are physically capable of and it becomes a mental game.  It's about you convincing yourself to just "go".  Sometimes it's about looking into the dark fear place.

Sometimes I think I like tris because it gives me a real tangible way to conquer the fear.  Or at least to put some things into perspective.

I think I've always been a fearful person.  As a kid I never liked under the bed.  To this day, I turn on lights in the bathroom at night.  And I still cannot sit through The Shining.  In fact, the only horror movies I know anything about are those that were spoofed on The Treehouse of Horror.  (The Shinning.  "Hush... do ya wanna get us sued?")

Sometimes I wonder why I have so much fear about things like biking up a hill.  As a chaplain in emergency services, I came across some pretty scary stuff.  People with knives in the chapel.  People with knives in the dark.  A lonesome out of the way family room filled up with drama queen family members next to a trio of drunken frat boys.  Plane crashes.  Calls to the psych ward.  Visiting clowns in the hospital.  Especially the clowns.

Sometimes I think that things like this are the real fears in the world and I wonder sometimes if I used up all my worldly allotment of guts by standing in elevators with surprise clowns or by ordering aggressive mountain bikers out of the ED.  (The biker thought he was my buddy because he'd done some mechanic work on my former bike, and did not take it kindly when I informed him that he wasn't welcome in the trauma pod.  There was some aggression involving a MTBer who was bigger and taller and more muscly than me.  And I won.)

So when I need guts for things like climbing up a mountain on a bike, I am afraid that I don't have the guts for it.

I suppose that tris give me a way to push my comfort zone a bit and to find those guts.  I think I'm just going to have to go for it on this one, and push onwards and upwards, as hard I can for as long as I can and to not quit until the race directors drag me off the course.  Or until I cross the finish line.

Whatever happens first.

No comments: