In one of the first meetings I had with Mary Eggers, my triathlon coach, I had asked about how many women participate in triathlon.
The number was growing, for sure, but there were things that held a lot of women back, like typical family and work commitments.
"And believe it or not," Mary said to me. "A lot of women don't do triathlons because they have a fear of wearing a bathing suit in public."
Uh, yeah, I believe that.
Self-consciousness is one of my calling cards.
Which is partly why training for my first triathlon publicly might actually be good for me.
I have to let go of that self conscious part of my brain that wonders if I look like a dork. Or a geek. Or completely not up for the challenge.
Or, worse than those, getting caught in a completely unflattering photo for one of my monthly updates in The Buffalo News or ending up photographed in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle by accident.
I would love to say that I've evolved past harshly critiquing myself but the practice is so ingrained in my character that it's difficult to completely purge.
But training does help quite down my inner critic. Or at least it gives me some pretty good ear plugs to drown out its chatter.
Because nothing is quite so bad during the day after swimming 1,000 yards in the morning when a few months ago your time in the pool was spent bobbing and floating.
Nothing can throw you completely off your game for the day after pounding out a quick 20 miles on an early morning bike ride. And if the day does go wrong, there's always a 30-minute run waiting for you at the end of it all to clear your head, generate some endorphins and give you confidence.
I've committed to my training program and I'm doing it. Who cares what I look like along the way?
OK, sometimes, yes, I do care.
But when that inner critic tries to dismantle my confidence, I start to trash talk back to it.
"Oh yeah?" I say to my inner critic. "What have you done lately, huh? Do you think you can beat me at a race? I could kick your butt. Bring it on."
OK, my trash talk isn't always that lame, but neither is always suitable for a family newspaper (or family newspaper Internet site).
Those self-conscious thoughts will continue to come. It's unfortunate. But I can always drown them out by cranking my iPod to some ungodly tune that my inner critic would absolutely hate.
Ah yes. Bring on the Britney.
It's going to be one of those days.