Nerves are something all athletes experience pre-competition. They can be either aid performance or if left out of control they can prove to be a major hinderance. As one becomes more a more seasoned racer, competitors develop techniques and rituals to focus their nerves and help them perform. For me I have a number of different techniques and little superstitions that help me focus those nerves into a competitive edge and help me to put my SWAG on. Here was my thought process this morning as I woke up and went through the before a race routine.
5:45am Hotel Room... Wake-up to my alarm, "The Entertainer." Terrible sleep last night. Need coffee...
5:48am I really should get out of bed. Okkkkk shower, wait, where are my contacts? Right, on the desk.
5:56am I think it's too early for the whole "a shower will wake you up" concept to work. Oh well, time for the race day checklist
6:00am Coxbox? Yep. SpeedCoach? Got it. Clothing: Trou short and long, racing tank, wool socks, sweatshirt, rain jacket, long sleeve am I going to want more layers? Well I can always throw a pair of gloves in my bag just incase..
6:07am Lobby... There's the coaching staff. Race in 4 hrs; Butterflies in the arms and shoulders. What's that smell? Coffee? Yes please!
6:17am Driving down Route 13... Keep the mood light, a little laughter always helps, we are still 4 hours until go time there is no point in getting nervous yet. Mmmm Ithaca Bakery? Expresso?? Oh hell yea.
6:32am Weigh-ins... These are always such awkwardly funny times... First one on the scale, quick glance around, haha yep all eyes on me; that's alright I'm just as guilty when it comes to eyeing other coxswains weight... I feel like I'm going to be heavy this morning; 127.9lbs ha not too bad...
6:45am Lane Draw and the last of the weigh-ins... It's kinda funny how we all look each other up and down eyeballing at body fat precentages and comparing size to weight; It's not like the shape or size of us is what drives the boat... Oo my turn for lane draw; Let's see.... Lane 2, Ok good. I can work with that.
7:00am Boat Bay.... Approximately 50 minutes till the guys show up; time to shake these butterflies ok let me check over the boat while it's not crowded down here.
7:40am Changing Area... Boat is all tight. Time to empty my toolbag of everything except the essentials. 2 Empacher Steering tools? Check. 10mm dual wrench? Yup. Extra spacers, washer, nuts and bolts? Good to go. Ok breath a little.
8:20am Ok racing is underway for the day, over an hour till hands on. Close eyes and go through the land marks and the race plan, remember the points we need to focus on.
9:35am-10:20am Hands on. Launch. Warm-Up. Back into stake boat. Go time.
For me focusing my nerves requires me to dial in and make sure I have everything prepped and ready to go. I allows me to focus on the race itself and, hopefully, eliminate any outside distractions caused by mechanical errors. Going through the race plan in my head and the landmarks assures me that when I get to those points I'll be ready. Also I never leave the dock without my white nike hat, which hasn't been washed since my freshmen year, because of my own superstitions concerning washing it. Consider it my own, kind of gross, lucky charm. Enjoy your weekend, thanks for reading, and keep your SWAG on.