I’d slotted three weeks for my taper, which also came at a good time for me personally as I needed every extra hour I’d get from less time spent training. I was moving apartments, the school year was just beginning in earnest (I work for a University) and several key projects were nearing their deadlines. Even with the relaxed workout schedule, however, I found it harder to squeeze in my workouts with the increased demands of my personal and professional life, and less time spent training lead to less relief from the stress of daily life. Suddenly, with more time to think, doubt began to creep in. Tapers tend to be difficult for a number of athletes as the focus of working out becomes less consuming and the complications of everyday life begin to be more evident. The ability for good athletes to stay focused during this time is not celebrated enough. Seemingly out of nowhere I began to break down mentally. I’d met my performance goals in the Steelhead race in August, but the pain required to do so had been far greater than I had expected and I began to doubt that I’d have the ability to suffer through that pain for double the amount of time required by the full IM distance. My time margins were so tight that I knew I was in for a world of hurt and was unsure of my ability to remain focused long enough to stay strong the whole way. These seeds of doubt planted in August began to flower with the time away from a full on training schedule. I started to make bad decisions nutritionally, I started flubbing my workouts, and I started to feel like I was subconsciously attempting to sabotage my race plans before I even started just to avoid that pain, or worse, going through that pain and still falling short of my goals. I’d never had hard fast performance expectations heading into a race and this uncharted territory was proving a difficult burden. Still, race day drew ever closer and I’d hoped these feelings of doubt would clear by race day and that my training would see me through any bad decisions I might be making in the three weeks leading up to the race.