So, Ben and I are running the Boulder Spring Half Marathon tomorrow morning. I love spring that spring racing is here. The weather is supposed to be perfect for race day. This will be my first race of the season and Ben’s longest run since beginning to recover from his injury (he is still not 100 % there yet but is making progress). Needless to say, we are not looking to PR tomorrow, rather, we are looking to finish and have a fun time while doing so.
I realized that there is a lot I think about going into race day and felt I would share this with you. Beginning a few days before the race, I start to monitor my water and food intake more closely. I also *try* to get more sleep leading up to the race. That being said, I have been completely off this week as I was preparing for and attending a conference, which puts a damper in hydration, nutrition, and sleep! Dinner the night before is usually a mix of protein and complex carbohydrate with some good veggies. Beer is usually included in this mix!
One of my favorite parts of the pre-race is packet pick-up. I love to get a taste of the race before the morning of. It is really cool to be around a lot of other runners and to feel the sense of nerves and excitement. At big races, the expos are a nice way to see a variety of vendors and get connected with some cool people. I like to try to get my packet prior to the morning of the race so that I can lay everything out, including my race bib, the night before. Unfortunately (and maybe not so… I will add this to the review of the race after it is completed) I was unable to attend packet pick up for this race, so Ben took care of it for me.
As I said before, I like to process through what I am going to need for the race the night before so I can make sure nothing is missing. Let’s work from the feet up.
Socks: I prefer to wear socks that are wicking and breathable. My favorite brands for distance runs are Smart Wool and Darn Tough. That said, for race day, I tend to lean toward wearing Smart Wool. I tend to blister less, if at all in these. I appreciate that they offer a variety of thicknesses and heights. On cooler mornings when I want to wear shorts, but still want to be a little warmer, I will wear the PhD Outdoor Mini (they are a bit taller). On warmer mornings, I will stick with the PhD Light Mirco. The verdict is still out for tomorrow.
Shoes: Shoe selection is based off of whether the race is road or trail. Tomorrow, the race is road, so I will be wearing my trusty road shoes. I love Brooks. I wear the Brooks Glycerine in a men’s style and have been very happy with the shoe and the company (I will write a review on them another time). I will never wear a brand new pair of shoes on race day as I think it is important to have some break in time.
Shorts/pants: Based on the weather forecast, I will be wearing a pair of running shorts. My two favorite brands (that I have tried) are Nike and Oiselle. The Oiselle tend to be a little on the short side, but I love the way they fit and move with me as I run.
Tops: Top selection is also based on weather. I like to wear either a wicking tank or a wicking short sleeve that is fitted. I will wear one light weight long sleeve shirt that is light enough to be tied around my waist or hooked onto my hydration system. With clothing, it is especially important to not wear something that you have not tried out on a long run before. For example, I once wore a tank top with a criss-cross back and my hydration pack for a marathon. I had never worn these two items together (in fact, I had never worn the tank before) and ended up completely blistering right in the middle of the criss-cross. It is important to know you will be comfortable and won’t be fighting shorts that rub the wrong way or shirts that ride up, etc.
Gloves: For cooler mornings, I will wear a pair of cheap gloves that can be donated or discarded. Target makes great, cheap acrylic gloves that are some of my favorite to run in and are cheap enough to part with on the race course.
Hat: I am a fair skinned individual and will burn rather easily when out for prolonged periods of time. I like to wear a visor to shield my face from the sun, help keep the bugs out of my eyes, and allow my head to breathe a little more easily than a hat. That said, I will wear hats, but prefer these for trail runs that tend to not get as hot.
Skin: Body Glide has become my best friend. I tried it once under my hydration pack and have never looked back. On race days, I try to put it anywhere I could possibly chafe (even if I do not normally), which might be excessive but does give me a bit of peace of mind. I do have yet to find a good sunscreen for running but will make sure to be wearing it tomorrow!
Hydration: I am still up in the air about what I will be taking tomorrow. I have only run a few races without my own hydration system. I like to be able to drink on my schedule, even if there are supposed to be a fair number of aid stations (the race tomorrow should be well stocked). I find it to be easier to drink at regular intervals and not deal with the traffic of an aid station or the joy of figuring out how to pinch the cups just right while drinking the right amount and not inviting a side cramp. That said, I think I might have just convinced myself to run with my Nathan Intensity Pack (which I will also review later). It is nice to be able to have a place to store a phone (in case we are separated at the finish line), my fuel, and my ID!
Nutrition: For a half marathon, I am a little more flexible in my fuel options. I really like Hammer products, so the majority of what I use is Hammer. I will most likely use a mixture of the Hammer Heed product and Accelerade (a protein/carb blend) as Hammer’s carb/protein blend (Perpetuem) just does not agree with my stomach. The Heed and Accelerade can be mixed with water in a bottle and is much easier to ingest while running that the Hammer gel packs.
Watch: I started using a Garmin GPS just over two years ago. It has revolutionized the way I train. I will make sure it is charged up and ready to go. I have it set to beep at the mile but also really like to have a 7 min timer to cue us to take in fluids. I have yet to figure out how to do this on the Garmin. Any ideas if this is possible?
Bag check: For the race tomorrow, the parking is close enough to the finish and the after party that it is not really necessary to check a bag, in the literal sense. I will still prepare a bag with post-race essentials. This will include: more sunscreen (I tend to sweat a ton and it seems to all come off prior to the post-race party), a dry long sleeve and short sleeve shirt as I tend to get chilled easily after running, a water bottle to make sure I am staying hydrated, flip-flops, a camera, and my post-recovery drink (also a Hammer product- Recoverite in the chocolate variety).
I know this seems like a long list and it will change depending on the weather and the distance of the race, but it includes the essence of what I feel is necessary.
What do you find to be vital in your race day preparation??
Now, it is time to go prep and look forward to race day! Look for a review of the Boulder Spring Marathon later!