Is there anything that can compare to competition day?
I never get tired of it… I have been visualizing my lines and strategies all night, all week, or all month. I wake up before my alarm, eat my lucky peanut butter bagel/egg/banana breakfast, and drink tons of water to stay hydrated. Nervous energy pervades as I scan my body and gauge how everything feels the day-of.
The car ride to registration generally consists of blasting loud music and fist pumping while my buddies and I exchange bouts of trash talk. We each take the time to describe just how badly we are going to beat each other today, and refute the others’ lies.
Once there, it’s time to calm down a bit. I tell myself, “Don’t waste too much energy jumping around like you’re Rocky Balboa; better to save some of that fire for when the clock starts.”
How long is it until the race? Food and water needs to be carefully packed so as to not be hungry, but not be too full when it is game-time. How are the other competitors looking? Some are quiet but friendly, others antisocial, and others gregarious and outwardly excited… we all have our own method.
Wow, only 30 minutes to go, it’s getting real. Time to warm up, but not push too hard. Balance. Balance. Balance! I feel ready to explode with excitement, but I need to back that throttle off just a bit… when that countdown ends, I visualize myself coming off that line like a cheetah. Efficient, silent and powerful.
Oh wow, there is the starting line and the timers. Everyone warms up within view of each other. The heavy hitters know what is at stake in their performance, and the first-timers are nervous about simply completing this challenging course. It doesn’t matter if it is a kayaking extreme race, a DH mountain bike race, or a 5k… everyone is trying to channel their nervousness into focus and energy.
Suddenly I find myself on the line, and the clock is counting down. 10…9…8. Deep breaths to enrich my red blood cells with as much oxygen as possible before I push my physiological functions to their redlines. 7…6…5. Quick visualizations of perfect completions of the most challenging portions of the course. 4…3…2. Every muscle enters a heightened awareness, and my body puts itself into the starting position. I am a human elastic that has been held back and is about to be let go. It’s time.
1… GO!!!! I spring into the course in a state of pure joy. That antelope is in front of me, in person or in my mind, and I am doing everything in my power to catch it.
I think that everyone goes through life searching for their “ism.” For those who aren’t familiar with this, it is an expression referring to each of us doing exactly what it is that we were put on this planet to do.
To me, racing is as close as I have ever come to finding this. I don’t even really care what kind of race it is… I love running, kayaking, sailing, SUP, swimming or mountain biking. I am an impartial competition fanatic! Just having the opportunity to get out there and find our own personal limits after a devoted preparation process is incredibly rewarding, and it is something that I hope that I can do forever.
As spring wraps up and summer edges its way into the picture, I can’t wait to catch up with good people and live this competitive emotional rollercoaster over and over. For those of you who make it out West this summer, I’d love to share a starting line with you at CKS PaddleFest and the Teva Mountain Games in Colorado, the North Fork Championships in Idaho, or the Red Bull Divide and Conquer in BC!
For more articles from Chris, check out The Flow!