I remember when I signed up for Ironman Nice, my first Ironman race; I was nervous but somewhat confident because although the bike course is known for being very difficult, I spend time regularly in Nice and knew a good portion of the route already. It was only a couple of months before the race when I happened to see the video of the mass swim start of the preceding year that things changed. Watching that wild aggressive start, my jaw remained dropped; even after it was finished. The only thing that went through my mind was,” Oh my god, what have I done? Can I still get my money back? Have a look at the same video I saw
Once I calmed down, I tried to put those images out of my mind by reminding myself of the fact that I actually do know how to swim and that there’s got to be a way to overcome my fear of the massive swim start.
2,500 people did that race as they’ve done every year for over 10 years; there had to be plenty of people who were as scared as me right? So for me the first step was to research strategies for the swim start. Some were actually helpful but not as specific as I would have wanted. Next I spoke with or read what others had to say who actually did the race in Nice. That was extremely helpful. Knowing the best place to stand going by what others had done was key. With that as well as knowing the swim route I came up with my strategy for race morning. Whether it would work or not; I tried not to think too much about that. But I mentally held on to my morning strategy whenever I felt nervous and it worked; both leading up to the race and the morning of the race.
And now I can say it worked, I enjoyed the swim leg of the race from beginning to end; I’m not lying. What I learned, which is what I will probably mention often is all of this was an issue in my head. At two months from the race start, the physical training was mostly done, it was the mental training that needed work in this case and it paid off. Convince your mind and the body will follow.