Race Day Nightmares

Happy Monday my friends! Many runners who have run several races have a check list of sorts, of things they have to have prepare or need to do going into the race. For some, that checklist can be short and simple. For others, can be a bit more elaborate even having certain things play out a certain way in the days leading into the race.

I myself admit that I have certain things that I prefer to have happen before a race. I’m a creature of habit. I like to have my clothes laid out the night before I go to work. Mostly that is because I don’t want to think too much in the morning. Same on race day. I want my clothes picked, headphones out and charged, nutrition for before the race ready, all of this for very little thinking on race day morning.


A Mandatory Pitstop At the Bathroom is a requirement for me before a race!

This weekend I caught up with a friend who just ran her first marathon . She, like most people, had the marathon challenge her physically but thankfully she finished it in four hours and change. This being her first marathon, she tried to go into the race researching a lot of the logistics that go into planning to run a marathon. From the clothes she would wear, to transportation to the start line, to nutrition during the race, to meeting with family and friends. There is a lot that goes into the planning of a race. While it is fair to say that planning for a longer race such as a marathon will make you think of more things logistically, planning can definitely still be involved with shorter races.

In August, I ran a 5K with New York Road Runners in Harlem, the Percy Sutton 5k. The race was on a Saturday morning at 8:30am. I live in Long Island so one of the things I had to think about was how I was going to travel to the race. I wanted to take the Long Island Rail Road but that meant going to Penn station and then having to take  local subway uptown. Given the fact that weekend service is a lot less frequent, I opted to drive. With the race at 8:30am, I left my house at 7:00am. Once in Harlem, parking was hard to find, so hard that I finally gave in and parked at a paid meter at 8:15am, a whole 45 minutes after I arrived in the area! Throw in the fact that I had to walk about 10 blocks to the start line and I got to my corral with about 2 minutes before the gun went off. This is not how I like to start a race. That day, I equaled my best time for the 5k distance, literally to the second. There is no question that if I had gotten there earlier or at least found parking earlier, I likely would have smashed by personal record. I didn’t get to hydrate before hand. I didn’t really get a stretch in. I didn’t even get to use the bathroom. These are three more things that I routinely do before a race.


I Kissed That Sweatshirt Good Bye At The Start of the NYC Half Last March!

When I ran my first half marathon last March, I had to choose wisely which sweats I was going to wear to the start line because bag check was not close to the start line and it also had to be checked in an hour before. That meant that the sweats I would wear to keep me warm until the start, would likely be left at the starting line and never to be seen again!

Going back to my friend that ran the NYC Marathon this last month, she got to Staten Island on the morning of the race at 6:30am and her wave didn’t go off until after 11am. Four plus hours of waiting is not fun! Also, she may have taken the wrong nutrition during the race because she became very stomach ill after the race. She felt fine during the race but after the race she had to run into a local residential building to use the bathroom all of a sudden. Finally, she had planned on taking the subway home with family after the race. Being soaking wet from the rain and feeling ill, they opted for a $100 plus Uber ride home instead. Ouch!

I’ve learned that while all the training that you do up until race day is very important, planning your logistics for race might be equally as important. Corny, as it may sound, I have created a checklist of sorts that  I go thru going into every race. Here are some of the items I make sure of going into a race.

Night Before The Race

  • Clothes are laid out
  • Any race nutrition needed is packed
  • Headphones are charged
  • Check public transportation schedule or fill up gas tank if driving
  • Phone is charged
  • Racing bib is picked up
  • Stow away a 5 dollar bill into my phone case
  • Tell family friends where to meet you after the race

Race Day Morning

  • Give ample time to arrive before the start of the race
  • Eat a good breakfast at least two hours before race time
  • Use the bathroom even if you don’t have to.
  • Get a good stretch in of at least 20 minutes.
  • Arrive at corral at least 20 minutes before race time to get a decent position close to starting line.

What are some of the things that you need to do going into a race, or on race day? What have been some of the “nightmare stories” that have happened to you because you didn’t plan well? Come on – you know we all have them!


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