Pre-race Jitters

raceMany times I have written about the ritual of races. A race is a sort of ceremony. There is magic on race day. It begins with the donning of the bib and the toeing of the line. It’s the nervous anticipation of the starting gun and the instant camaraderie created with the runners that will race alongside me. It’s the shared struggle we runners will experience together. It’s all of this, and it’s wonderful.

I have never taken the time to think about the days leading up to the race and how exciting they are. Yes, the actual race is the performance after many dress rehearsals, but those days that immediately precede that performance are very special.

A few days before a race I really start to think about my nutrition, hydration, stretching, activity level, and sleep patterns. At this point, the training has been done, and it’s time to simply take care of myself so that I can run on fresh legs and in the right frame of mind. Sort of like a bride preparing for her wedding, I begin my racergirl grooming by doing the following:

  • Drinking tons of water and Nuun water
  • Eating my complex carbohydrates
  • Foam rolling & stretching
  • Deciding on a race day outfit
  • Preparing my pace band (I may follow it to a tee or a may “sort of” follow it).
  • Picking up my packet
  • Laying out my race day outfit
  • Deciding on my driving route, parking, and estimated time of departure (I like to arrive at a race 45 minutes before start).
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Then, it’s race morning!

Like Christmas morning to a child, I bolt out of bed and begin my pre-race ritual. After all of my basic hygiene, it’s time to get dressed and hydrate while I watch the news or some trashy reality show I have taped. I’ve already decided what I’ll wear down to my socks and pony tail holder, so there’s no stressing about locating items or items not working well together. I just put the stuff on that I’ve laid out. I always like to pin my bib on at home before I get in the car and drive to the race. I just like to center it on me in the bathroom mirror. It’s kind of fun. I typically unpin it and re-pin it in a slightly different spot about four times before I’m satisfied with its placement. As I’m doing this I take note of the fact that my hands are shaking a bit. Funny, I race multiple times a year, but I know that I’ll always be riddled with nervousness before a race. It’s an exciting nervousness, of course, and ultimately it’s fun. It is funny; however, to recognize the signs of my nervousness as they happen to me. I kind of become an outsider looking at myself. It is in these moments that I want to cry some happy tears. I’m truly so amazed with myself right now. This is me up early preparing for a race. Me! I have never been an athlete. I’m the girl that is quirky and kind of awkward in life. I am always struck by how cool it is that I am about to compete. I feel brave and accomplished. I’m about to race.

Next, I like to go and make sure my car will start about fifteen minutes before I really need to leave. Why? Well, last July the battery in my mommymobile decided to go bad. I hopped in my car the morning of the Baytown Bud Heatwave 5 Miler and the car wouldn’t start. Frantically, I woke my husband, popped the hood, grabbed the jumper cables, moved my husband’s truck, and once my husband came to from his deep sleep, we gave it a jumpstart. I am quite certain that I woke my husband with an urgency akin to the times I informed him of the beginning labor stages I was experiencing before the births of our children, but he was nice and sprang into action. Thanks, David! For better, for worse, crazy runner lady or normal lady. It was a good thing that I was already planning on getting to the race site 45 minutes before race start. I must also add that it was good that I knew how to pop my own hood and get everything ready for the jump, as it saved me some more time. Talk about my hands shaking during that whole ordeal! But, I still got to the race good and early. I got a great parking spot and I finished my pre-race ritual of hydration and fueling.

So, as I prepare for my upcoming race, I am enjoying the fact that I get to race. The fact that I have found a sport that I am passionate about and by which I feel accomplished and strong. The nervous excitement is fun and I will enjoy every last second of it.

Enjoy your racing, everyone. Do you have any fun pre-race rituals?

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Fierce & Forty

I turn 40 today and it’s a very happy day for me. I am much more evolved than I was in my twenties, for sure, but the true reason I am so excited about turning 40 is that I get to move up to the 40-44 age group in races. I know, to the casual pedestrian that would sound odd, but chances are, if you’re reading this right now, you totally get what I am saying.

It’s a very beautiful thing that the female 35-39 year old age group is so competititive. What it means to me, is that for the majority of women, their kids have grown up enough to be left alone at times and just generally don’t require as much attention and care. It’s very freeing when a mother can have some independence from her children. Her children are developing their own interests and talents and this frees up quite a bit of ole mama’s time. What to do? How about develop a nasty running habit? That’s what happened to me, at least. It’s funny, when I run with the high school cross country girls, I find that they don’t have the kind of perspective I do. I’ve lived a bit more life than they have. I’ve been knocked down quite a few times and have lived to tell about it. I have gone through pregnancy and childbirth. I have had tremendous highs and lows throughout my adult life, not that my life has been that rough or anything, but life is tough and even small hardships teach us to be resilient. I believe I try more now because I believe in myself more than I did when I was younger.

So, how exactly have I changed as I’ve aged?

1. Well, for starters, I’m an open book. I tell everyone everything that is on my mind. I show all of my cards. People tell me that my face tells them everything they need to know. I also don’t try to hide my flaws from people like I did when I was younger. I used to be very concerned with people discovering I was flawed. Nowadays, I almost speak too much about my flaws to people. It’s as if I’m telling them, “look, I know I’m a mess. I really do. I am working on myself, but sometimes it’s just so much fun to be the way I am right now.” So, the positive is that I am self-aware and can admit my faults.

2. I do pretty much everything with passion and heart. I invest everything into whatever it is I am working on. I sometimes get “tunnel vision” where I become completely consumed by things; however, I find that when I am truly invested in my task it shows in the end result. I like to be creative and successful and my key to this is the passion with which I operate. Overall, this is a good thing. I’m striving to do the things I love and to love the things I do.

3. I am much more decisive now than I was when I was younger. I believe a lot of this stems from the fact that I now know what I want. I find that I don’t grapple with decisions as I might have in my youth. I am starting to realize that I spent a great deal of time fretting over things that were pointless and not worth the stress, and I worried too much about making the wrong decisions. I find that I now trust my gut and I try not to feel guilty if things aren’t perfect.

4. While I still struggle with my confidence, I believe I am much more confident now than I was when I was younger. I tend to put myself out there much more. From rocking fashion risks to admitting my weaknesses, I am learning to do things for myself, not in order to look a certain way, and I enjoy laughing at myself. I believe this has all made me much more secure. But, in the spirit of honesty, I still tend to be quite insecure. Perhaps I can overcome this by my 50th birthday. Maybe 60th or 70th?

5. I believe I am more fierce at 40 than I have ever been. Fierce and forty … now that has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? I feel healthy, strong, beautiful, driven and dedicated. My perseverance and tenacity have given me more guts, for lack of a better word. I feel better, I respect myself, I’m starting to become less emotional and more practical. In short, I’m learning to like myself.

So, for these reasons, I’m happy to start this next decade of my life. I wish for PRs and happy moments with family and friends. I wish to forge a deeper connection with those that I love and admire. I vow to live my life with passion and purpose and to continue to strive to become better.