Yes, it’s a bit gimmicky, but I felt like I learned a lot from my first half marathon experience. Some of it is serious, some not, but that’s what it is all about. I think most are going to be food-related, because that’s how I roll. So, without further adieu:
1) Try eating a banana roughly 30 minutes before start. I’m someone who needs to eat- I just don’t operate without food. I ate a good breakfast before RnR, but three hours had passed by the time I made it to the start line and I was feeling hungry, which stuck with me until Mile 4 when I allowed myself my first Gu. I don’t think this impeded my performance at all, but it’s worth experimenting with.
2) High five everyone who offers it, especially the little kids. It just feels wrong blowing by them.
3)Don’t run a warm weather half. Saturday was probably my limit temperature wise. The last stretch was really warm, and strong sun is kinda distracting. Since it is March, it would normally be a good bet to run this time of year but this year is just weird. Another downside to global warming.
4) Nothing tastes better than chocolate milk after a long run. Thank goodness it’s the new ‘it’ drink. I pounded my little carton, it just hit the spot in ways water couldn’t.
5) I don’t really have an appetite once I’m done running. The milk tasted like heaven, and I ate a banana right after that, but despite being hungry at the start of the race, that dissipated by the end. When my husband asked what I wanted for lunch, nothing appealed to me. I had to force myself to eat a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch when we got home. I do think the heat had something to do with it, in my previous long runs I would be starving within 30 minutes of finishing. But racing also adds another dimension, I’m sure.
6) My bra strap is a useful place to stick ear buds under. I had tucked my buds under and over my shirt, but they kept either falling back down or tumbling over my top, which was annoying. It dawned on me halfway through to tuck them under one of my straps, and voila, they were still and not a distraction.
7) I’m glad I don’t rely on music. Trust me, there are days when I need music to run, and I brought my iPod as a crutch in case I needed a push (hence the ear buds above). But I definitely enjoy racing without it. You can take in the race so much better. Plus, the few times I have raced with the music, I didn’t really listen anyway. And while I think it’s totally valid to use it if you need it, I have to admit it was really annoying to have to avoid runners who drifted my way or who made it difficult to pass them because they had headphones and weren’t paying attention to their surroundings.
8) Spectators make a huge difference. Both loved ones and the many anonymous ones. It really helps you keep moving and inspires you. But there really is something to having a loved one there, or multiple ones. My husband hasn’t gone to my other races to date mostly because I would tell him not to- usually it was too cold for him to stand around. There’s just something so…I don’t even know the words, but my spirits really soared when I saw my husband and my friend Amy. It made my race. I need to be better about recruiting more friendly faces, I’d really love to have my parents watching sometime.
9) I would be exhausted the next day. I expected that I would pass out at 9:30 Saturday night, which I did. What I didn’t anticipate was how exhausted I would still feel on Sunday. We woke around 7 am, had a yummy pancake breakfast, and went to the grocery store. At this point I was starting to feel really fatigued. Around 1 pm, I laid down on the couch and just crashed for a good hour and then some. It took me a long time to rally and take the dogs for a walk afterwards. No one told me about that feeling post-race!
10) Keep walking/moving. I already knew this from my long runs, but it’s better to walk around a lot afterwards. When I’m a bum and lay around, it takes longer for my legs to recover in the days afterwards. My legs are still a little sore today, but definitely mobile. I think it’s because I took the dogs on a walk and did a lot of cooking- basically, aside from my super nap, I was up and about. I’m feeling really good today.
10) If possible, a good night sleep the night before is key. Sometimes nerves will get the best of you, and adrenaline should be sufficient to pull you through. That’s what happened for me at the Hot Chocolate race. But I felt the difference this time- I felt energized but calm, and just raring to go because I slept soundly the night before.
12) Red Rocks in Old Town is the best for pre-race pizza meal. I thought pizza would be a good pre-race meal for me, and I was right. My husband and I met our friends for dinner there, and I devoured almost an entire arugula and cherry tomato pizza on my own, with just a little help from my friend Christine. I don’t usually do that, but I was actually pretty hungry and figured the extra fuel would help, as long as I didn’t get uncomfortably full, which I didn’t. I think I’ve found a pre-race routine.
13) Steak frites, a side salad and red wine is the PERFECT post- race dinner. When debating dinner options, I thought I was leaning towards Ray’s Hellburger, but then remembered Rays to the Third, steak frites outpost of the Ray’s the Steaks mini-chain. We decided to try it, and like all the Ray’s, it was outstanding. As I mentioned, I hadn’t been hungry and really didn’t eat that much all day, but that dinner really hit the spot perfectly. My husband said this can be a new tradition for my long distance races- although he added he may also have to start racing if he was going to insist on eating like he ran a full marathon. In addition to his hanger steak, cream spinach, side salad and beer, he managed to do serious damage to a large coconut milkshake from Ray’s Hellburger. That’s my man.