The more I do any sport or probably anything like reading, baking or watching TV, the more likely I’m desperately responding to anxiety. Activity, engrossment in some goal, deflect from my dis-ease with myself. Being totally fed up with myself I decided to put down some money on a triathlon registration. I’ve done this before. I ALWAYS overdo everything. I get so anxious about finishing that I go too fast or I cramp up out of sheer nerves and/or over-preparation. I’m like the cheese covered toast you put in the broiler just before you have to go to the bathroom – ruined.
I am going to get a tee shirt made that reads” BEWARE: NERVOUS TRIATHLETE. Stay away! I may wipe out on my bike. I’m really likely to trip on a tree root. I could breathe water up my nose in the pool and have a choking fit. I might start swearing and crying because I can’t get my shoes on in the transition area. You really should see me swimming. I look like I’m fighting a shark. One can hardly call it the crawl. A death march would be more appropriate.
I’ve also been an actor and comedian of sorts. That means I’m twice as likely to be disturbed. Not only do I run around in circles to escape myself but then I have to write or talk about it all the time. The triathlon is Sunday. Today I felt like the bones in my thighs, femurs I expect, were going to poke right out of my skin. I went home and ate lots of food just in case I had gotten too skinny but I don’t think that’s it. I probably just did something too much and my body is saying STOP!
So I did, but I also picked up my triathlon tee shirt, bib and chip this evening. I tried to hide this from my body so it won’t figure out we’re still going to run the race on Sunday. The running is the last part anyway. I can always walk it if necessary or dance it, crabwalk it, whatever. Last time I went down twice on the run with charlie horses. This time I will eat a banana right before the race and drink lots of water. Don’t tell my body. It just thinks we’re going there to volunteer writing the numbers on people, which we will, right before jumping in the pool. This is why I do the co-ed triathlons. It’s fun to write on people you don’t know, kind of like being a celebrity autographing people’s body parts. Don’t let them know I said that though or I’ll have to just stand on some cold, lonely turn on the road not touching people.
In case you have never done a triathlon. Some people have very nice expensive equipment – clip in pedals on 24 speed super light bikes with carbon elements which might just come to life. They wear special quick dry onesies and heart monitors so they don’t wimp out on maximum pumpage. When I’m tired I slow down so I don’t have a heart attack or I try harder because I’m afraid that I’m just afraid. I don’t want a heart monitor because I’ve learned not to take myself or anything I do that seriously. It’s okay to be somewhere near the end of the finishers on my ten speed or my wicked heavy mountain bike because it looks like I’m actually working harder than they are with their ultra-lights. If I had a heart monitor it would probably sound an alarm or explode. Machines get that way around me. Anxiety can read like a heart attack. It’s bad enough they want you to write all your medical information on the back of your bib in case they find you unconscious somewhere on the course.
Other riders will meticulously rehearse their multitasking – strapping on their bike helmet while running barefoot from the pool to their bike. It’s surprising more of them don’t die during this transition but perhaps they are less anxious than I. I will just be chanting “Don’t be anxious, DON’T be anxious, Don’t be ANXIOUS! on my way out of basin of doom and onto the bike of Beelzebub. Running and not bumping into things is multitasking for me.
I also like to put my anxiety on other people. I have a nasty habit of singing and talking while biking up steep hills. This is done both to relieve my anxiety as well as to psych others out. The other day there was a practice ride for this race. I kept passing this one gal going up the big hills because I had only 10 speeds so there was no gearing down. She would in turn pass me going down the hill. I compensated by singing as I was pulling closer to her on the uphills so she would know I was coming and spend energy resenting me. I was singing ” It was the summer of ’65. Those were the best years of our lives.” She was at least as old as I am. I am bad.
Wish me luck. I could pick up a man with the clever line, “What’s your number? Ohh, I’ll write it here so I won’t forget it.”