"Our entire lives we are taught to shy away from pain. I am going to be perfectly honest and say that racing hurts and the person who wins is often the one who is willing to deal with the most pain. Rather than shy away from this, I actually like to imagine this pain pre-race. I think it is important to realize that this feeling will only last for so long. Before you know it you will be back in the recovery area in the comfort of your loved ones wishing you had gone a bit harder if you did not meet your goals. The hardest moment for me is on the starting line, especially before a triathlon with a crowded start or tumultuous waters. I have to tell myself repeatedly not to panic and take several long slow deep breathes, thinking only about things I can control such as staying on feet for a draft or how hard my first 50 strokes will be. During a running race, in my worst moment of pain, I like to think about dropping my arms and breathing out as hard and quickly as I can, think Monica Seles, as it gets all the CO2 out and makes more room for oxygen to be taken in. FOCUS has to be learned and practiced as well. Think about the distracting stimulation surrounding us in the NYC marathon. Crowds cheering are a wonderful positive thing but smells like pizza and car exhaust can take your focus away and make you feel discouraged. I like to pick one thing to focus on at a time and I practice this in training. One mile it can be dropping your arms, the next my breathing, the next a jersey in front of me or a cheerful aid station up the road. Setting small focal points along the way can help keep your mind calm and your thoughts simple, therefore allowing your body to have all the energy for movement, and hopefully that movement is fast!"
-Deseiree Ficker- Pro triathlete & Austin resident