Phase 1, early training: "Is this enough?" "How can I complete this?" "If I can't run well on Sunday after a Saturday long ride, how will I ever run a marathon?"
Phase 2, late training: "Can I get one more long ride/run in?" "Why didn't I think about my nutrition earlier?" "What is my goal race pace?"
Phase 3, race arrival: "Did I bring everything I need?" "Can I get all the stuff I forgot to bring here at the expo?" "What is three bike lengths?" "What the hell is my family going to do in [insert location] for the next [insert estimated hours]?"
Phase 4, 15 minutes pre-race: "How did I get here?" "Is this race really limited to 2,000 folks?" "Is that dude's wetsuit on backwards?" "Can anyone else see that last buoy?" "Are my tires flat in transition?" "Did I put on the Body Glide?"
Regardless of where you are on the racing spectrum, you will face these challenges. Remember all the training you have done, take a moment to visualize your race and how you will perform (especially in the tricky scenarios like a flat tire or lost water bottle). With a good plan and patient execution, you will be primed to succeed regardless of the jitters.
Patrick McCrann, head coach and founder of Performance Training Systems, is a member of Joe Friel's Ultrafit coaching group and is USA Triathlon certified. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.