Quieting the Butterflies at U.S. Nationals

August 10, 2009 · Print This Article

By Soni Andreini Poulsen
On the Back of the Tandem, California

tandemttWhy do I get so nervous before races?

My stomach is such a vat of acid you’d think it’d digest anything instantly. Instead it keeps urping up my breakfast for hours. And I need a revolving door on the porta potty.

The more the race matters to me, the worse it is. So the morning of our Tandem Time Trial at Masters Nationals was about as bad as it gets.

So I go through my tools for dealing with this.

1. Concentrate on pre-race routine. Well, the 2 hour delay in our start time did that one in.

2. Breathing and relaxation exercises. Bubble, churn, urp.

3. Fear busting exercise: remind myself that fear is only a signal that I am taking a risk and challenging myself. I recognized that and congratulated myself on not being controlled by my fear. Time for a bathroom trip.

tandemhugOk, now I’m getting a little upset at myself and a little worried. I’d already seen with the rides I’d been doing in Kentucky that my heart rate was tending to run high. I didn’t have any extra beats for nerves.

What am I afraid of? That all the obstacles we’d overcome to get there would be for nothing. Bronchitis, sinusitis, neuromas, asthma, rear wheel problems, motivation problems, rental house swindlers, 21 rear-end mosquito bites, nebraska, and 2000 miles. That all the endless intervals would be for nothing. That we’d fail and let down ourselves and everyone who had helped us get there. And if you are reading this, you helped me get there. Which of you hasn’t held my hand or kicked me in the butt in the last 4 years? Without you I’d never had the confidence to call myself an athlete.

But at the very same instant I realized that I was afraid that we wouldn’t be successful, I rejected that thought. We were already successful. We had already overcome the obstacles. And I had no doubt that we were going to race as hard as we could. And all that meant that no matter what the outcome of the race, that we would be successful. And in accepting that as truth, I felt the storm in my stomach settle down.

For me, that was (almost) as big an accomplishment as winning a National Championship.


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One Response to “Quieting the Butterflies at U.S. Nationals”

  1. Lucky on October 19th, 2009 3:15 am

    With that kind of stomach, you surely need a revolving door on a porta potty.

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