Preparation and Completion

It’s the night before the world cup final.  We completed our final practice runs this morning on the sprint course in Cataract Gorge, and I’m 16 hours from my last race run in this series. 

I train five or six days a week, two or three times a day, for months leading into the world cup.  And yet, as I approach a race, all of that time is forgotten and my focus is on what I need to do to be prepared for the next day.  Now, we are all a little tired from three weeks of travel and competition.  On the road, everything takes just a little more energy than at home, and we can feel fatigue setting in.  We make small mistakes on the water early in workouts.  We get annoyed by each other more easily.  And small tasks become daunting.  To avoid that sort of fatigue, it’s imporant to take small bits of time to yourself and rest.

I try to make each place I stay more like home.  I “move in,” unpacking all my clothes and putting them in drawers or closets.  I go through the kitchen so I know what we have, and what we can cook.  I unpack food and put it in cabinets.  And yet, without familiar comforts, it still feels different.

We have tried to make our food as normal as possible.  That’s easier when you can cook for yourself, but still not exact.  It’s often hard to get peanut butter, for example.  And I live on the stuff at home.  Normally, we cook something like pasta the night before a race because you know how you react.

This is my night heading into the last race:

Jennie, Chris, and Emmy are all out at the Team Leader’s Dinner.  It would have been fun, but the dinners are not designed for athletes– they take a long time, and aren’t relaxing for me.  I stay at our hotel because I can unwind and stretch, and will be able to go to bed whenever I want.  Tired of pasta, I cook a chicken curry with rice and tortillas (I don’t have the ingredients for naan), and have dinner.  Then I sit down to read and pray.  I listen to U2.  My thoughts stray again and again to the course for tomorrow…four strokes out of the start, lean left, j-stroke, pick up the rate, lean forward…

I check email because I can (we have wireless internet in our room for the first time this trip), and because it passes the time.  I look at the clock constantly to see if I need to start heading for bed. 

Emotions are mixed.  I need some time off to recover mentally and physically from the efforts of the last month, so I’m glad I have one more day to go.  I’m excited for the race– I like the course, and I can see myself doing well.  And at the same time, this is the end of the world cup in which I haven’t met all my goals.  I have one more chance tomorrow, so I’m a bit nervous.

And now, it’s time for bed.  I’ll post about the race tomorrow afternoon.

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