I'm a little freaked out that I am not freaked out. About the triathlon this Saturday, of course. The freak-out quotient of the rest of my life has not changed. But the triathlon? Phaw.
On Sunday, I was freaked out. After the open-water swim and reality check of what I would be facing in the lactic acid + adrenaline + nerves department, I was taking bets on how many times I would vomit and on whom and preparing for my close-up on SportsCenter's "Not Top Ten" segment. But now that a few days have gone by, I feel almost casual about it.
"Oh Saturday? Well, I have a triathlon in the morning, but we're free after that. Sure, just text me and we'll meet up."
I'm not super-prepared. I've definitely trained, but not as much as I wanted to or planned to. I never got around to having toe clips installed on my bike, I haven't really practiced any of my transition machinations, and I don't have any special gear. But I've done some brick workouts, thought through each event and what I need to do to transition smoothly, practiced in the lake with the wet suit, and for the past three months have been running, biking, and swimming regularly. All things considered, I'd give myself a 7 out of 10. I could have done more, but I've not been a total slacker.
I think part of my lackadaisical attitude is that I have progressed to a place in my life where I now laugh in the face of failure. At least, wherever athletic ability is concerned. I have soooo been-there-done-that. I went to the Ultimate Fitness Challenge, for crying out loud. I mean, come on. I am clearly not afraid to take one for Team Nerd.
But I also know that I do not completely suck. I might not be genetically athletic, but I'm relatively strong, fit, and stubborn enough to swim across a frigid lake despite the very clear fact that everyone else has already gone home and is reading the newspaper. Also, completing a triathlon is not a new phenomenon. I don't want to trivialize the accomplishment, but thousands of people who are less fit than I am have done it. There is simply no reason to expect that someone at my level of fitness cannot. So I will.
When I was swimming on Sunday, I opened my eyes under water for a brief moment. It was not comforting; the black, murky water was ominous, and I could vaguely make out the coral-like shape of something white below me that sent a very clear message that I was a stranger invading its usually private existence. I shut them right away and came up for air wondering what the hell I was doing. I have an intense fear of drowning; I don't like being in open water, I am claustrophobic, and am prone to panic attacks. It occurred to me that I hadn't considered any of that when I signed up to compete. I guess I've trained myself to think in terms of what I can do instead of what I can't. Besides, I am pretty sure I am going to die in a car wreck, not a lake. It was a good reminder that as much as endurance sports are about physical stamina, they are just as much mental.
My ego has enough chinks in its armor to land me in the "bruised and battered" category of competitors - the ones standing kind of in the back, pulling grass out of their hair and adjusting their glasses while the real athletes punch each other in the arms and congratulate each other on a good game. But that's okay.
I'm pretty sure I'm the captain.