We had our first set of races this past weekend and days before my stomach began to curdle with that irreproducible and daunting feeling of race nerves. It doesn’t make sense why we should feel so sick at the thought of racing, it’s what we’ve been training for for six months, we should have the hang of it by now, but it still happens. And, whenever it happens, I begin concocting worse-case scenarios for the upcoming race. So, here’s a little sample of those concoctions, courtesy of my brain:
1. Miss your start…because you’re in the bathroom.
When you’re making your warm-up plan, calculating the minutes and hours of exercise you’ll need to make it to the start time written on your hand, it’s easy to forget to write in some “you time” in the port-a-pottys next to the finish. Race nerves have incomparable effects on your bladder (ect.), and there’s nothing worse than trying to rush through nature to make your start time.
2. Making your start…but not going to the bathroom.
Except this, this is worse. I don’t need to explain this one, the consequences aren’t pretty.
3. Skiing with the wrong skis.
It’s understandable to accidentally take a teammates skis instead of your own, or even to look down in the start gate and realize that you’re on your warm up skis. What would actually be a problem is if you looked down during the classic mass start chevron and saw that you were on skate skis. Then, you would have totally blown it.
4. Wearing the wrong team’s suit.
Forgetting your bib is one thing, but forgetting your team? Unforgivable. I don’t even know how this would happen, but if, by some strange sequence of events I showed up to a race in anything but red white and blue (Stratton colors, duh.), the outcome would not be positive.
5. Skiing the wrong direction on the course.
This doesn’t seem that bad to me. I mean, 5k is 5k, and some oncoming traffic could really make things interesting, amIright?! But my Dad’s a TD and tells me that other people care about that. Disqualification = blew it.
6. Accidentally doping.
Like wearing the wrong suit, I’m not completely sure how exactly this scenario would play out. However, “mixing up your vitamins” and ending up on top of the podium on only to pee in a cup and lose it all, would be TOTALLY BLOWING IT. It means that you not only lacked the control over what went into your body enough to cheat, but you also have to deal with the shame/trials/punishment thing.
As it turns out, it might actually be harder to totally blow it on race day than it would be to do really well. As I consider all of these scenarios, I realize that they are a result of me overthinking…everything. Overthinking time tables, what my body’s doing, what other teams are doing, what the officials are thinking, even what evil doping forces are doing.
Racing can be simple. You get to the line ready to go, go as hard as you can, do what your body needs, and it will be pretty hard to blow it.
That being said, you can have a good day and still totally…well, you know: