Leading up to marathons, I like to race in a half-marathon to practice my nutrition plan, work out any pre-race jitters or glitches, and simply have fun in the company of other runners. Yesterday I had the pleasure of running in a gorgeous little race just outside of Eugene, Oregon. More specifically, it was gorgeous once we left the starting coral, as the race started in a parking lot in front of a few buildings that were past prime. The 13.1 mile course began with a loop around this neighborhood before traveling out of suburbia and onto a bucolic highway traveling next to the river. There were a few inclines that the race directors had described as rolling; the inclines at miles 4, 8, and 10 felt a bit more substantial than rolling, though the views were entirely worth it. There were just over 300 participants so there were no large crowds, and plenty of space to run on the shoulders. The race finalized at Armitage park, an unassuming open space with camping available on the cusp of Eugene and Coburg, with plenty of room for supporters to wait for their runner to finish.
As for myself, I had a fairly decent race. I finished in 1:45, equating to 8:00 min/mile flat, though I oscillated between 7:35 and about 8:40 depending on the terrain. I finished 2nd in my age group, and 9th female overall. Though this race did take place near Eugene, where I went to highschool, it is now a 2.5 hour drive from where I live, and thus required hotel stay and foresight in order to be fully prepared for the race. Thus, I have prepared two lists of components of my preparation that I feel either helped my race experience, or may have hindered it, for your educational purpose!
First, the Things I could improve on:
1. I forgot to bring a gluten free breakfast from home: this situation is not unique to those with food allergies. I recommend when traveling away for a race, to bring the breakfast or energy supplement that you have raced or trained with and thus your digestion track has become accustomed to. This error left me having to think of how to obtain my food for the morning the night before, which is not terrible, though it is time that I could have been relaxing.
2. I let another runner bother me for the first 6 miles of the race: A stranger behind me had decided early on that I would be his pace-keeper, and that he was going to stay on my ankle as far as he could. The problem with this is that because I was running at a faster pace that he was accustomed to, he was breathing extremely loud in a saccadic rhythm similar to Lamaz. Every runner I passed trying to loose him, he followed. I tried to be helpful, and told him to go ahead and pass me. He point blank told me I was his pace-keeper. I found myself irritated while running throughout some gorgeous country because his breathing was so loud. At mile 7 he gave up, which almost made me feel bad for him. But the silence afterwards was brilliant 🙂
3. I ran in blisters due to an 8 mile training run the day before: Yes, this is a big no-no in racing world. This weekend, my marathon training plan called for a 20 mile run on Saturday. With my race on Sunday, that was not going to happen, and due to the fact that we were out of town for the race, I didn’t want to add on mileage on after the race because we needed to head home. So, I ran an 8 mile training run with my group on Saturday and realized that my shoes were shredded (see Item 2 in what I did right). Alas, the damage was done, two dime sized blisters on my forefoot. See my post on blisters for information on how to handle this:
I’m certain there are more things that I can and will improve on, but let’s discuss
What I did right:
1. I followed almost all of my pre-race rituals: as discussed in my previous post, I have some “rituals” that I carryout:
Thus, leading up to this race, I had sushi for dinner, raced in a shirt gifted to me by my husband, walked around to stretch my legs a bit the night before, and ate clean all week.
2. I raced in new shoes: Hear me out! I believe that this is a truly unique situation that ended up working well for me, and this is the reason: I did an easy run the day prior to the race and realized that my shoes were shredded. The toe box had collapsed and the tread was worn, leading to poor running mechanics on my part. I made a game time choice to pull out a new pair, which were the exact model that I have been running in for 2 years now. Thus, my body is accustomed to them, and in all honestly, I’d rather run in stiff shoes than the broken down ones.
3. I brought clothing options for all types of weather: Eugene could have been 27 degrees, and it could have been 60 degrees and raining. Thus, I brought everything from a tank top and shorts, to long pants, long sleeves, running jacket, hat, gloves, and headband. Better to be safe than sorry!
What good choices and/or errors have you made in race preparation? I hope that you learn from mine!
Make your day great!