It is courage, courage, courage, that raises the blood of life to crimson splendor. Live bravely and present a brave front to adversity.

Horace

“Fear is a reaction, courage is a decision.” “Inhale courage, exhale fear.” “Courage is knowing what not to fear.” There are a million quotes, pinning courage and fear as polar opposites, motivating us to be the former. And, as I train for the 2018 Tuckerman Inferno pentathlon, I want to believe that I am courageous.

But really, I am filled with fear.

I am afraid to fail. I am afraid that my best won’t be good enough.

The Tuckerman Inferno pentathlon consists of an 8.3 mile run, a 5.5 mile white water kayak, am 18.2 mile cycle with 2,000’ of elevation gain, a 3-mile hike in Tuckerman’s Ravine, and a ski or snowboard back to Pinkham Notch. For the last six or so weeks, I have been training, like, hard. Bricking workouts together, so, running 9-miles to my gym, doing 200 flights on the StairMaster with a 20 lb. weight vest, and then cycling back home. Stuff like that 5 days/week. My body is begging for reprieve.

I have no doubt that I can meet the physical demands of this race. But there is a 1pm cutoff time—racers have to be to the top of Tuckerman’s Ravine by 1pm or you’re out. That…is what I’m afraid of. I want a finishing time. I’ve trained too hard to fall short. But when I calculate the various legs of this race at the pace I’ve been training at, well, I’m not looking down the lip of Tuckerman’s Ravine at 1pm.

What happens if I fail? Well, nothing. I’ll still finish the race, regardless of whether I get a finishing time or not. I’ll still have accomplished an impressive feat of athleticism. But I want a finishing time. I’ve trained too hard to fall short.

At this point, I’m as ready as I’m gonna be. The race is on Saturday. This morning I’ll go for a “leisurely” cycle, and then it’s just rest and recovery until race day. And all of the carbs…

I am going to leave everything I have on that race course. And I’m going to finish that race—with or without a finishing time—knowing that I did my absolute best. Accepting and appreciating whatever I am able to achieve out there. My best will be good enough. Your true best always is.