My race-day running clothes are laid out on my dresser, right below my bib and Timex IronMan watch. The espresso machine is loaded, the Luna bar is sitting in the counter and my iPod (well, my friend Chris’ iPod, as mine isn’t back from the iPod infirmary — thanks, Chris!) is loaded with a carefully compiled playlist.
Now what? I consulted my friends for tips on how to chill out, and got some really fabulous ideas. Here are a few of my favorites:
From my friend Jim, whose son runs something in the neighborhood of a 4-minute mile, and who’s no slouch of a runner himself: “Be a total obsessive. Lay everything out. Know exactly what you will eat pre-race. Have that laid out. Every little detail: planned. Bathe very early. To bed very early. Then when you are laying there and you can’t sleep, you can tell yourself “f-it, I’m in bed early. I’m not worried about falling asleep.” Then you just let yourself drift. You don’t think about the race at all. Don’t imagine anything about it. Get out of bed early, knowing you will feel like s–t. It’s OK that you feel like s–t. You planned for that. Get to the race early so you can forget about parking and all of that crap. Have lots and lots of time to stretch and go for a pre-race run. Not too far before the race. You want to be warm and still a little sweaty when the gun sounds. Then you go like hell!”
From my friend Courtney: “I never sleep well the night before the race… EVER– no matter how big or small. So, I really have to count on good sleep for the other nights leading up to the race. I prepare everything… bib pinned to clothes, everything in a pile. Chip attached to shoe. Breakfast components on counter. You’d think that’d help me sleep, but NO WAY!”
And once that’s all done, I especially like this piece of advice from my friend Jen‘s older sister, Jessica. Jess was our absolute running idol growing up — she was fast in high school, faster in college, and impossibly cool to two 8th-graders. A year or so ago, she ran a half-marathon without any training at all, and still finished in about two hours. She offers this: “I used to get so nervous before a race. Now that I’m out of the racing scene, I look back and wonder: What was I so afraid of? Just relax and enjoy …”
Brilliant. Let the relaxing begin!
To that end, I’ll answer the aforementioned friend Jen’s question about pre-race dinners.
“Of course, you’re suppose to load up on carbs. Just curious if you have a “special” meal. I’ve been known to go to the Olive Garden and eat pasta and breadsticks…haven’t seen any big success with that meal….thinking I should try something different.”
In a word: Pizza. The light, crispy restaurant kind, or the kind we make at home with Whole Foods dough, topped with tomatoes, basil and peppers. Roasted-veggie lasagna is a fave, too, but longer races call for pizza. My opinion about this was totally justified last year, when Olympic marathoner Keith Brantly said this was HIS pre-race meal of choice. If it works for him …