It's A Mind Game

[caption id="attachment_5234" align="alignright" width="197" caption="Source"]conquering_fear_triathlon[/caption] I spend a lot of time thinking about life, and especially about triathlon and what it is going to take to not just get through Ironman Texas but the training.  I also worry about the let down after the race, which will have to be short-lived because training will begin soon there after for Ironman Arizona.  Tackling two 140.6 races in the same year, I have been told is crazy.  When I think about this task I think to myself:  It's crazy to you but makes perfect sense to me and I love a challenge.  This may break me and may drive me from the sport altogether, but I have already laid carrots out there for me to chase. My carrots of choice consist of MiTi in August of 2013 and Leadman 125 and Leadman 250 in 2014.  In between I am hoping that I go back to Puerto Rico in March of 2013 so that I can qualify for 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas of November 2013.  I keep laying out my challenges and making sure that they are bigger than the previous challenge and just out of reach so that I have to stretch myself to get there.  I do not set tasks so easy that I have no motivation to get up and train or don't feel satisfied when I accomplish the task. We all dream and fantasize about the people we want to become.  Yes, many of you are happy with who you are but if you stay stagnant will you be happy with that person tomorrow?  I doubt it and so we set these goals up to pursue and should we fail we have a decision to make.  Do we dust ourselves off and try again (sorry Beyonce') or do we stand up, get our ball and go home pouting.  I for one will fight.  I for one will dust myself off and speak to myself in uncertain terms and it usually ends up with:  What do you have to lose?  What are you scared of?  Failure?  If you didn't fail, then you would not know what the thrill of succeeding felt like. Yesterday I was reading Inside Triathlon's article by TJ Murphy titled No Fear.  The article refers to Mark Allen's 1989 triumph over Dave Scott in Kona and how fear had gripped him the 6 previous times they raced.  How he was afraid that something would go wrong.  He was scared that others were more prepared than he was.  That he was not prepared enough to take on the event.  When he finally conquered those fears is when he went on to win Ironman and 5 more before retiring. That is where I am today.  I have conquered the fear of registering for triathlons.  I know I belong in the sport.  I know I can swim 1.2 miles, ride 56 miles and then run 13.1 miles.  Today I just want to do it faster than I did the last time.  I have not stepped to the starting line of a 140.6 mile journey but I'm mentally prepared.  I felt mentally prepared last year to take on the distance but now I know I can do it.  How can I be so confident when I have never done it before?  That is the answer and the question.  If I am fearful of the distance going in then I will be crippled by it and not enjoy myself.  Knowing that my coach has put me in a position to succeed has raised my confidence.  I also view race day as the reward for the weeks and months of training. When I get to Puerto Rico I will not be paralyzed with fear of finishing the race, or fear of going faster than 5:28 and getting to 5:10.  My fear, and driving force, will be pushing through the pain.  This training cycle I have focused on embracing the pain.  Knowing that the lactate wall is going to come at some point and I'm going to have to do everything I can to get through it is where I am today.  In 6 weeks I will be in San Juan lining up with other men in the 35-39 Age Group and I will not focus on how prepared they are, but instead on how prepared I am to conquer that pain.  How prepared I will be to swim as I've never swam before.  To ride like I've never ridden before.  To run as if the world's existence rested on my shoulders. When I cross the finish line, no matter what happens I will know that I gave it my all.  That I stared down those fears and beat them.  I often ask myself how I got to this point of not fearing.  I think the answer lies in how my life has unfolded and how I couldn't control any of it.  My father was diagnosed with cancer and I found out about it during my graduation from college in 1995.  It was only a few short years later that he passed away and I was the 'man' of the house.  Not much after that my mother and sister moved to Charlotte leaving me alone in New York without nuclear family to lean on and I had to make it.  My mother was a phone call away yes, but I could not go to her house to visit her.  Getting divorced after 7 years of marriage to a person I had known since I was 13.  Following that divorce I packed up my stuff and moved to a city where I knew nobody and was as far away from NYC as you could get, Dallas.  I re-married a woman with a very young son and all of the sudden I was a step-father.  All of these 'little' items in life have led me to be who I am today. Life is very short and there is no reason to fear anything because things will happen whether you want them to or not.  Better to not get caught up in the moment and look at the big picture.  That brief moment when it hurts like hell during your training or racing is but a brief moment.  A day has 24 hours in it and if you race a Half-Ironman and it takes 6 hours then that is only 1/4 of a day.  You have so much time after that.  If you race a marathon in 4 hours that is only 1/6 of the day.  You have so much time after that.  These training sessions and races are not forever so there is no need to fear for you will soon have a recovery day or a transition in which to gather your bearings.
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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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