Pre-Race jitters

Yesterday, while I was sitting down with my google calendar and planing out my experiments for next week I noticed something out of the ordinary.

It’s not the chicken

Instead of my usual Saturday long run, I am signed up for a half marathon this weekend! I suppose that I, on some level,  was aware that this was coming up, but February just flew by so fast! I am running the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon tomorrow. I’ve never done this race before, but the course is apparently scenic and FLAT.
I’m using this race as a tune up for my Marathon on March 4th (I’m still using my training to fundraise for the Seattle Humane Society, please consider donating if you haven’t already). My training plan advises me to run this race conservatively, and think of it as a rehearsal for the “real” event, but a big part of me wants to PR. 
Normally during the weeks leading up to an event I start to get a little jittery. I think pre-race jitters (or nerves before any big event, like a high-stakes talk) are healthy. They are uncomfortable, but they can be a powerful tool; after all, you only get nervous about things that really matter. The key is productively focusing the nerves into excitement and effort. 
I didn’t really have time for gradual pre-race build-up; instead I got a concentrated week’s dose of anxiety crammed into a single day. Even though my training runs are longer than half marathons these days, and this is technically just a stepping stone on the way to the big 26.2, it is still my first race of the season. A typhoon of trepidation was starting to build within me last night (I haven’t been carbo-loading! I should have gotten better sleep this week! Where in the world is Lake Sammamish? Which shoes should I wear? If Russia invades and we have to go all The Hunt for Red October, how will that affect my mile splits?) 
Then I decided to take my own advice, stop fixating, and reclaim my narrative. My friend Claire told me a great mantra for putting herself in a positive head-space at dinner the other night: “change your story.” So I decided to make Friday a story of how Sam sets himself up for racing success.
I woke up nice and early for a delightful breakfast of carbohydrates and current events.
I headed to the gym
Epic clouds this morning!
I hit the pool for a swim to loosen me up and clear my head.
I took some time to appreciate the first daffodils of spring when I got out of the pool.

I did some science. This qPCR plate told me about double-strand DNA break repair.

I stayed hydrated throughout the day: double-fisting green tea AND electrolytes!
I drove to Bellevue to pick up my bib # and race packet, so that I don’t have to worry about it tomorrow.
I stocked up on Energy gels. I got a few different kinds because I want to try to manage my fueling strategies (or lack thereof) better as my training progresses and this will take some experimentation.

Lucky number 1349?

While I was picking up my packet, I couldn’t resist grabbing a sample of the new Gu flavor: salted caramel. I’m intrigued, but it’s never a good idea to try something new on race-day. I find most energy gels fairly revolting, which is part of why I am so terrible about remembering to fuel on long runs. I pretty much only tolerate peanut butter Gu, Mocha Clif Shots, and Huckelberry Hammer Gel. Salted caramel sounds like it might be tasty (and I lose electrolytes like crazy through my sweat, so the added salt is a bonus), but I don’t want to risk it. I’ll give it a try during a long run in the next few weeks to see if it works for me.
I did not dive face first into a plate of pasta for dinner. I loaded up on carbs in the form of lentils, tilapia, Brussels sprouts and a sweet potato. I think sticking within the confines of your normal dietary habits before a race is important. I rarely eat pasta, I think that eating a smorgasbord of spaghetti would have me running to the port-a-potties, faster than the finish line.
After dinner I laid out all of my gear for tomorrow: shirt, hat, arm warmers, headband, gloves, iPod with kickin tunes, compression socks, shorts, shoes, Gu, and a change of clothes.
Ok- I think I’m all set. Now I just have to turn off the blog, turn off my brain, and rest up.
What are YOUR strategies for success before a big event? What are your strategies for success before a typical day?

4 thoughts on “Pre-Race jitters

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