As many of you already know, this weekend is the Chicago Marathon. Things are getting really exciting around here. Setup started the other day and there is a buzz around the city. All over the television you see ads for the race and Carey Pinkowski, the director of the race has been interviewed for just about every spot possible. By the way, I just have to add that he is one of the classiest people I have ever met. He has come to a few functions I have been at and despite the fact that he is directing one of the biggest races in the world, he always finds time for everybody and every organization. I can’t say enough nice things about this guy.
The expo opens today and I am excited to go and see what it has to offer. Although it can be fun to go and stock up on free samples and check out all of the vendors selling all things running (a run-nerd’s heaven!) it is important to pace yourself. Especially if you are going to the expo the day before the race remember that the main reason you are there is to pick up your bib and shirt if they offer it before the race. Don’t over exert yourself the day before the big event. I have heard too many stories of people getting overly into the expo and running on tired legs the next day. Remember what you are there for.
Speaking of the expo, remember how we talk all the time about trusting your training? That means right up until the end of the race. While it is great to pick up all sorts of free samples to try out, wait until after the race is over to give them a go. Someone might tell you just how awesome their new product is and how it might help carry you through those extra miles. But trust me here, don’t try it on the course for the first time. As bad as those tired legs sound from walking too much at the expo, I have heard far worse stories of runners who tried out new gels during the race and spent most of their time on the course bouncing from porta potty to porta potty. Yikes!
Give yourself lots of time to figure out where the race takes place and where you will be heading for the start. Don’t wing it the morning of and run 5 miles to get to the start on time. If you do that you will end up running your first unofficial ultramarathon! If you can, map it out the day before and have a plan of attack. Err on the side of caution and give yourself extra time to get there. Better to be early than to get there after the gun has gone off. (By the way, I have had many a nightmare about this lately.)
The night before lay out all of your clothes and any other accessories you have. Lots of runners lay out their “Flat Runner” the night before. Pants, bras, tops, belts, fuel, and headphones. Put it all together so you don’t get to the start and realize you missed something. Don’t forget your watch!
Can you believe that last Saturday for our last training run we had snow?! It was miserable and a great reminder that fall weather can be unpredictable and chilly. So you might want to consider packing some warm clothes that you don’t mind throwing away. Go through your old sweatpants and shirts or pick up something from the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Wear it while you wait in the corral and then toss once the race begins. Some races will have you waiting in the corral for quite awhile and even after the gun finally goes off it might take awhile to get started. Most races have crews that will come along and pick up discarded clothes and donate them to charities. So your muscles will stay warm and you will be giving back. Everyone wins.
Most importantly, stay calm and enjoy yourself. Don’t start worrying about what lies ahead on the course or what might happen 5 miles from now. Stay in the moment. Enjoy yourself. Take in the sights and the sounds. Think back on your training and pick some times that you really enjoyed. Dedicate a few miles to the people who helped you get there. And have fun! This is your victory lap, so go ahead and enjoy it!
Make sure to spend a mile or two thinking about what your celebratory drink or meal will be. I know that has certainly pulled me through some long, rough runs.