As a Coach there is one quote out of the many fantastic quotes that Muhammad Ali said that for me sums up the attitude that triathletes and runners should embrace come race day - “The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road; long before I dance under those lights.”
For me I think that sums it up well, you think about all the time you have got up early to swim up and down a 25m pool following the black line, you think about the hours on the turbo trainer and out on the road running and riding, you think about the logical hooks you have created, and all the times you have taken in the past to push yourself and not hold back. You put all of this together and when you are standing on the start line looking at the water and around at your other competitors you can tell yourself that you have done everything that you can do. You do not need to feel nervous or anxious about your performance, you have essentially won or lost the “fight” already. ALL you need to do is to be out there and enjoy it and rely on the skills you already have as you are not going to improve on them that day you are merely going to use the skill set that you possess.
So relax and enjoy it! After all it is meant to be fun!
If you train specifically and appropriately in your time “away from witnesses” then one day you might be able to proclaim, as Muhammad Ali did after beating Sonny Liston, “I shook up the World! I shook up the World!”