Greetings and welcome to the post I have fondly titled, “So You’re Going to Run a Half Marathon Part 5 – The Day of the Race.” This is my fifth post in a series of I don’t know how many, about preparing for your first half marathon. How many half marathons have I run, you ask? One so far. So with that nugget of information, understand I’m not claiming to be a running expert. I’m just a new runner sharing information that I wish I would have known prior to training for and running my first half.
Before composing this post, I decided to wear my coveted Half Marathon shirt so while writing, I could relive my glory days. OK, OK, my glory day. It was a great day indeed! I will not go into hard core details here but feel free to read my post about surviving my first half. It’s about things I thought I did well, things I would do differently and helpful advice I received along the way.
Oh look, here’s my shirt:
There are a lot of things to take into consideration on race day so what helped me maintain my sanity was to make a list a day or two before the race so I was totally ready to roll when I woke up on race day.
Let me be up front with you. I am a planner and I mean Planner with a capital P. I’m a nut job list maker and a freaky control freak so imagine the lists I had going on for this Half Marathon. A training list, a food list, a vitamin list, an accessories list, a to-do list, a to-don’t list, you name it.
My “Things To Do the Night Before” list looked something like this:
- Try on clothes – (just to make sure everything is there)
- Take clothes off and set out for morning – (keep everything together so you’re not running around the house looking for your good luck socks…trust me)
- Pin bib to shirt – (it’s a good thing I did the night before because I fussed with it for 15 minutes…don’t ask…I had placement issues)
- Set alarm (wake up early enough to eat, digest, do your business…if ya know what I mean, hydrate, get dressed, drive to the race, walk around, take it all in and get pumped. You don’t want to rush around the morning of your first half)
- Set out breakfast items
- Pack up all accessories – (the accessories deserve a list of their own)
- Charge iPod/phone – (race day is NOT the day you want your device to run out of juice)
- Remember to enjoy the day – (everyone says that but around mile 11 you might not be feeling the love…just keep going. The love will come)
My “Essential Accessories For Race Day” list looked a lot like this:
- Fanny pack (or ‘running belt’ for those of you not stuck in the 80’s like me)
- Gummy candy things, energy bar, (some people bring gels (like GU). My body says boo to goo…makes me gag)
- Tissue (I have gnarly allergies and need tissue…lots and lots of tissue)
- Sun Visor
- Arm Warmers
- Extra Safety pins (even though I pre-pinned my bib to my shirt, I brought extras just in case…that’s the planner in me)
- Money for a beer after (not really). Money for a taxi, just in case.
- Fully charged iPod/phone/electronic device that plays music in your ears.
I know what you’re thinking. I’m one of those people who over packs for a weekend get away. Yes, I am, but I only bring the essentials and all the things I listed above were essential to me on race day.
You’ll have a lot on your mind before race day, so get a list together to help keep you on track.
Another thing that is important is to make sure you have some cheerleaders at the finish line to cheer you on. My husband and son were there with smiles and cheers and my son made a poster that read, “Way to go Mom. You’re Beast!” I’m not sure what that means but I think it’s a good thing and it made me smile extra hard at the finish line. That was the best feeling…to see the faces of people I love after a grueling run. So be sure to invite some familiar and friendly faces to meet you at the finish!
Another thing I wish I knew is how anxious I would be the night before and morning of the race. Part of my anxiety (other than the fact that I was about to subject my body to 13.1 miles of running) had to do with the fact that I was running this unfamiliar half marathon thing alone. I was alone in a sea of people. Did that line choke you up just a little? Anyone? Anyone? 🙂 Really, I was running without a buddy so it was kind of weird to be around so many people who were running the race with a friend, partner or group. I quickly learned (well, it took me almost 3 hours) that by the time the finish line came around, most people were crossing it solo. I started to feel less alone when I realized that everyone out there had the same goal…to cross that finish line! It sounds corny but there is a camaraderie thing happening out there so my advice would be to enjoy it at the beginning, middle and end of the race.
My last piece of advice would be to really do your research on preparing for your first half marathon. There are very important factors to keep in mind: What to eat/what not to eat, staying hydrated, cross training, stretching, the list goes on. Here are some great websites that offer tons and tons of information:
Also search WordPress for running blogs. There are so many bloggers out there who offer a wealth of information. Some of my faves include:
Check them out if you are looking for interesting running experiences, knowledge, product reviews, amazing accomplishments, and difficult challenges…you name it!
Runners out there – anything you wish you would have known before running your first half marathon?