Have you ever experienced when driving to a race venue, you suddenly ask yourself if you brought with you the Bib no. for the race or if you placed your watch on your bag since you noticed that you aren’t wearing it?
We have been faced with such dilemmas and nothing is more disconcerting when you realize you forgot bringing some of your race essentials when scurrying up to the race venue. A watch, a race belt or a GU might be dispensable when running short races. But how about forgetting your Bib no., running shoes or running shorts to discover this only upon arrival at the venue? So you also forgot to gargle and brush your teeth because you were running late? Yuk!
I think one should have a standard pre-race preparation for a worry-free travel to get you into racing mode. Having peace of mind sets aside doubts and jitters, knowing that you have all your ammunition at hand and lets you focus more on the race itself.
Here are my pre-race rituals to prepare me for the rigors of racing:
The Night Before the Race: These are the basics i do and for most runners, as well.
—Set aside a small backpack. Inside: A clean T-shirt, extra shorts, singlet with bib already clipped on it. A towelette, slippers placed inside a plastic sheet, Gatorade, Cobra energy drink, bottled mineral water, band aides and some chocolates (choco-muchos, preferably).
Morning of the Race:
— Wake up early. I live in Quezon City so i wake up at about 3:30am (or earlier) whether the race is in Manila, The Fort or in Q.C.
— The usual rituals in the bathroom: empty your bowels, brush your teeth and if your bowels didn’t give you a hard time going thru your large intestines, it leaves you time to take a 10 minute shower to freshen the whole body.
— Listening to Jazz music: On race mornings, i try to keep my mind off the race by playing some of my favorite jazz music. It reduces the feeling of anxiety, helps me feel more relaxed and gives me something to hum on during the race itself. These are among the jazz albums which are often cued on my cd player:
— Breakfast: I don’t take anything in the morning if races are from 5k to 21k. A glass of water is enough for me. Maybe a gel or a choco-mucho stocked in my waist belt just in case i get hungry during a 21k race.
If running a full marathon, i wake up earlier (about 2:00am) and eat pasta (spaghetti), two slices of whole wheat bread with jam or peanut butter, two bananas, water, then go back to sleep (if i could muster my brain back to sleep). During the marathon itself, i rely on the provisions given by my support group, running club or friends waiting from km 30 to km 35. Mostly, it’s bananas, choco bars and energy drinks that are provided. If somebody would hand me a can of beer, i would gladly accept it.
— Wear all essentials.
Running Shoes: Before putting on my running shoes, i first remove the insoles and tap-out any debris that might have stuck inside the shoe (like small stones). On one occasion, i found an open safety pin tucked in the insoles and in one other, i found a one-peso coin between the sidings and the insole. i do the same with the insoles and if all has been done, i’m ready to wear them.
Nip Guards (aka Band Aid) : My nipples are sensitive to chafing so i put on Band Aid on both nipples. Many old-time runners who share the same experience of abrasion say that once you get accustomed to wearing it, you are going to wear them every time you run. I do so now. I position the band aid in such a way that i do not paste them flatly but put a space and create a gap directly from the nipple to protect the tip from chafing and prevent resistance from my singlet.
At the race venue:
— Short warm-up: Warm ups are slow jogs for 10 mins or less to loosen up the muscles. If i feel like it, i go to the rest room, take a leak at least once before the race.
— Stretching: After the warm up, i do some 5 minutes of gentle stretching to loosen up some more. I do simple stretching for the calf, thigh and hamstring muscles. Take sips of water.
— Check-In : I check-in 10 to 12 minutes before the designated start time and look for friends who i can chat with before the gun goes off.