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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Race Day Success

Racing can be a fun experience. To be sure things go smoothly the day of the event you want to keep a few things in mind to make sure everything goes smoothly:

Location
Do you homework and get directions to the venue. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive at the location and park your car. Sometimes directions are wrong on event web sites so give yourself plenty of time on race day.

Pick up your race packet early.
Pay close attention to pick up times and location for your race packet.  If you like to sleep in on race day pick up your packet in the days before the race. Some marathons do not have pick up on race morning so check pre race instructions carefully. It you are picking up your packet the day of the race get there early. Most pick-up ends 15-30 minutes before the event. Get there early enough to take care of any problems with your registration, it does happen. Also be sure to pick up your timing chip.

Race Number
Wearing your number wrong will point you out as a newbie. The number goes on the front of your shirt. Lots of new runners make the mistake of pinning it to the back of their running shirt.

Wear tried-and-true running apparel.
It is considered among runners bad luck to wear your event shirt in the actual event.  It is considered cool to wear that shirt at another event.   The cotton shirts often given are not good for anything longer than a 5 K or during hot humid weather.  Never wear brand new gear on race day. Try out anything you will be wearing in workouts. Race day is never the time to sport new shoes. Break in your shoes by walking in them for a day, and then wear them for at least a few workouts.

Try to get a good night’s sleep.
A good night’s sleep will make your feel better on race day and help you perform better. Expect to be nervous and lose some sleep before the big event. You will still be ok if you got good sleep the rest of the week.

Fuel your body.
Stick to the type of food you ate during training. Pasta with veggies is good, but go easy on the cheese.  Be sure to stay away from alcohol and drink plenty of water the day before the event.
It is very important to eat breakfast. Experiment with what works for you and stick with it on race morning. Oatmeal, yogurt, bananas are all good choices.

Hydrate.
Drink some water first thing in the morning when you wake up.  The amount you take will depend on you, the race length and the weather. A few ounces at each aid station are good. Do not over do the water.  Drink when you work out and you will know how much fluid your body needs. The right amount of water will also help in your recovery.  Drink water after the race and stay away from alcohol at least for a few hours.

Starting Line
Seed yourself appropriately based on your training runs and past races.  Most races have projected per minute times posted. Please don’t line up near the front and make runners pick around you so they can run. Be considerate. If you are a middle of the pack runner, line up in the middle.  Race times are based on chip times now, so the clock doesn’t start until you hit the mat at the starting line. No need to line up too far in front.

Pacing
Most beginning racers make the mistake of going out way too fast, and then die in the last miles. Go out conservatively. Hold back a bit to warm up. Go out within your ability and you will be passing lots of runners in the last mile. Aim to run a second half of your race that is faster than the first half.

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