Many 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).
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?