In July, I raced the NYC Triathlon. The following week, I raced at the Gay Games. I haven’t even posted my recap of that race yet – it was awesome and exhausting. But more than physical exhaustion – it was just two Olympic distance triathlons, after all – the most brutal part of this two week span was the anxiety I felt leading up to the race.
I am a nervous racer. I am not a frequent racer, doing only about 3 larger events a year. I have some small running races or some fun things like the Brooklyn Bridge Swim in between, but typically I train a lot and race a little. I’m very cool with that schedule, too: races are expensive. And exhausting for me, mentally.
My anxiety leading up to NYC started almost a week before, when I was worrying about going about 85% to do well at the Gay Games, which was my A race. NYC is a local race – like two miles to the start. Like roll out of bed and be in transition in 15 minutes. Like no stress about travel at all and I can sleep in my own bed and eat breakfast in my house. All of these make it ideal. But the pressure of doing well but not doing too much was tough, particularly after a month or so of good humored and well intended shit talking with a friend. Even with what I thought was the pressure off by giving myself the 85% out, I was nervous and worried.
The race was great and went better than I wanted on all fronts, from interactions to output – everything was awesome. But the next day began my anxiety for Gay Games, just a week away. Did I go too hard? Is it too close? Will be I be rested enough? Will I be able to do well and medal even if I’m in peak form? Some of this was really good pre-race nerves; I say really good because I think a small amount of nervousness pre-race is a good motivating force for me. But this was excessive and consuming. The emotional toll this took on me for the second consecutive week was too much.
I really wanted to nail this race for a dozen reasons, but among them is that it happens every four years, making the stakes a bit higher than NYC, which I could do again whenever. I also was facing my eligibility debacle (cleared and all good, thank you very much), and I was having some self doubts: did I really hold back at 85% in NYC? (I did)
At any rate, this summer I found that racing two consecutive weeks is not my thing. This was a special case – NYC was free and Gay Games was huge – but I will not be repeating this any season soon.