Years of racing cross country, track and field and now triathlons has helped me accumulate a variety of motivational phrases. While I do and have for a long time loved to train and compete in endurance sports, there are inevitably times when doubts creep in, nerves get the better of you, or you’re just plain tired! That’s when the endless reserve of confidence boosting quotes and affirmations comes in handy.
My beloved former high school cross country coach had a lot of funny phrases, motivational speeches, encouraging tips and in general an inspirational way of approaching training and racing. In a lot of ways his coaching and encouragement not only shaped the athlete I am today, but has also influenced the person I’ve become and the way I encourage others in my sport. A few of Coach Connolly’s words still resonate strongly and one I always think of when I reach a taper week is “The Hay’s in the Barn.” I can’t quite illustrate as eloquently as Coach C would what this means, but in a few words it means: all that training, consistency and continuous effort has set you up for success, you are prepared for the race you are about to do because you’ve already put in all the hard work, now all you have to do is race! This is not meant to insinuate that racing doesn’t require effort, but Coach C had a beautiful way of reassuring you that with all of the training you put in there was no way you weren’t going to have a stellar race.
Years later, here I am 5 days out from USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals and ya girl is crawling out of her skin with nerves. I’m just being honest. I’m constantly flip flopping back and forth between excitement over being days away from a race I’ve had my sights set on for over 2 years and terrific, unshakable fear! 
What’s there to fear? In the past I’ve feared not being able to finish or struggling in the swim, crashing on the bike, messing up my mount or dismount, and cramping on the run. Needless to say, there’s plenty to fear. However, with the tireless practice and preparation that has gone into this coming weekend there is only one fear that remains. Fear that I’ll hold back. I fear crossing the finish line and thinking, “I could have pushed harder, pedaled faster, or kicked sooner.” This time, when I’m on the other side, I want to know beyond any shadow of a doubt that I have left it all out on the course, that every ounce of energy left in my body has been expelled. That’s what racing is all about, a test of physical and mental stamina and seeing what you and your body are capable of. 
So I’m doing my best to be meaningful in my taper workouts this week, take some extra time for meditation and visualization and remembering that all my hard work is about to pay off or as coach C would always say: “The Hay’s in the Barn.”
Some other thoughts and words of motivation that will come to mind leading into and during the race:
“The best pace is a suicide pace, and today is a good day to die.” -Steve Prefontaine
“Strength does not come from physical capacity, it comes from an indomitable will.” -Gandhi
“That’s the hurt locker. Winners love it in there.” -Chris McCormack
“It never gets easier, you just go faster.” – Greg Lemond 
“Be not afraid of greatness.” -William Shakespeare 
“Always try to be the very best you can be. Learn from others, yes. But don’t just try to be better than they are. You have no control over that. Instead try, and try very hard, to be the best that you can be. That you have control over. Maybe you’ll be better than someone else or maybe you won’t. That part of it will take care of itself.” -John Wooden
My self proclaimed catch phrase as a spinning instructor, “You want this!”
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” -Steve Prefontaine

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