Closer it gets to the weekend, to race day, the more nervous I am. Except this time, I’m feeling anxious and excited not for myself but for the people in my life who are tackling their first marathon or half marathon, or as Joe is doing, running a distance — 10K — that he hasn’t taken on in years.
This weekend is the Bayshore, and it’s the first one in six years that I am not running. It’s also my first time spectating a race–and I’m so happy about this. But apparently a bit nervous, too. Mostly, I think the butterflies are because I’ve been on the other side so many times now and feel so much gratitude for the family, friends and strangers who’ve cheered me on. I can’t wait to do the same for them. I know how cool it feels to do something you’ve never thought you could, and I am honored and humbled to be a part of their experience, if only in some tiny way.
Leading up to this Saturday, as I hear from friends about their own nervousness and excitement, I find I want to do as much as I can to encourage these amazing runners in my life. So I ask you all: what helps you the most the days before a big race? What do you appreciate most from your partner, your close friends, your family members? What keeps you feeling motivated, inspired and basically feeling like you’re making the most of this time before you toe up to the start line? A few things that have helped me:
Surrounding yourself with positivity. OK, a little cheesy-sounding. But it’s true, it works. I’m a big quote person–I actually subscribe to a daily “inspirational quote” email and I’m a sucker for those famous-person (and not-at-all famous person) words of wisdom that friends will post on Facebook now and again. So I eat those up especially as I go through the taper and prepare my mind for what’s to come. I also like those underdog kind of movies, you know ones like “The Fighter” or “Good Will Hunting” or “8 Mile” that remind us that any time we really, really, really put our minds to something we can achieve great things. I’ve recommended this before, and have brought it up to a couple of friends running the full marathon this weekend: the documentary “The Spirit of the Marathon” is fantastic. If you’ve ever run a marathon or contemplated doing so, go get this DVD. You should be able to find it at your local library. I’ve also talked here before about the books I’ve read while training that have helped build my mental muscle for race day. Right now I’m reading ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek’s memoir, which is so inspiring so far. Even non-running books like The Art of Racing in the Rain are awesome for getting your head in the game.
Treating your body well. Drinking water, eating well, getting enough rest. All good things to do throughout training, and also so important the last few weeks and days before race day. It’s also fun, of course, to ponder what your first post-race meal will be…
Losing yourself in something other than running. Maybe it’s work-oriented, or a home project you’ve been wanting to take on (I’m no master gardener, but I do love planting flowers in my flower boxes this time of year), or it could be meeting up with a friend you haven’t seen for awhile for coffee or a cocktail–just do some things that remind you that running is a part of your life but not everything. (Yes, this is probably especially good for us obsessed runners). Heading out on a bike ride with my kids never fails to boost my spirits and help keep things in perspective.
Savoring this time. I’ve experienced that anti-climatic feeling once a race is over. It’s exciting to have finished, and yet…you’re now done. All that training you’ve completed, it’s over. Now what? Savoring those final days before a race, then, may help in knowing you’ve made the absolute most of this experience, from the moment you first began your training program, through all the twists and turns that occurred throughout, and then the actual race itself. Just…be. Take the time now, before your race, to relish all that you’ve accomplished up to this point — even if your training wasn’t all that you thought it would be. You’re here now. Trust that you’re exactly where you should be. And simply enjoy.
To all of you running Bayshore this weekend, GOOD LUCK! I will be there cheering you all on ~ run happy in mind and body, friends!