The blood, the sweat, and the tears will all pay off on Sunday! Your focus these next few days should be on taking care of yourself and making sure you've got all your ducks in a row. The content below should have you good to go on race day!
-Identify your race day wardrobe. Make sure whatever you choose is something you're comfortable running in. Plan for the weather conditions! Take a look at the extended forecast and plan accordingly!
-Scout the course. Here is the Silicon Valley Half Marathon Course Map.
-Lube if necessary. Some of you have complained about blisters on your toes/feet and chafing during the course of our training. Well, there's a handy product out there called 'Body Glide' that you can apply to your feet, thighs, underarms, or any other area where you encounter friction based irritation that will help reduce/eliminate this. It may be time to invest in some. Alternatively, you can use Vaseline, but it can be a bit on the greasy side.
-Schedule a sports massage. Some of you may have some residual soreness/tightness that has been bothering you these past few weeks. Now is the time to be a bit self-indulgent.
In addition to taking an extra day off and/or cutting a workout short, indulge in a nice sports massage to help knock out those last few kinks. I'd recommend scheduling one for Thursday or Friday,ideally.
-Nail down race nutrition items. Hopefully, you've identified a gel, gu, or some other nutrition product to consume during your long runs. Remember that you should be consuming one of the aforementioned items approximately every 45-60 minutes during the race to keep yourself performing at a high level.
If you anticipate being out on the course for 2 or more hours, this means you will need 2-3 gels/shots/blocks/etc. Water and some kind of sports drink will be provided at the start and at various during the race, so try to coordinate consumption of gels,blocks, etc. in conjunction with the water stops.
Just a reminder that roctane, chomps, gels, bloks, etc. should be washed down with WATER, NOT A SPORTS DRINK.
-Focus on complex carbs. OK, we're a couple days from the race and now is the time to start making some adjustments to your diet to help insure you're properly fueled for race day. Think whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, whole wheat bagels, organic fruits/vegetables, etc.
Some folks only 'carboload' the day/night before an endurance event, but the reality is that carboloading this late in the game won't give you much bang for the buck. If you start a few days prior, your are insuring that your glycogen stores(primary fuel source) are topped off.
This doesn't mean eat carbs EXCLUSIVELY! But, if your diet normally doesn't include much of the aforementioned, make a conscious effort to include more at this juncture.
-Hydrate properly. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, one way you can identify whether or not you are properly hydrated is by looking at the color/quantity of your urine. In short, 'clear' and 'copious' is what you're looking for, respectively.
You should start making a conscious effort in making sure this is what you're seeing in the days leading up to the race. While we're not anticipating a hot day, you still will lose fluids even if you're not sweating profusely. Make sure you're getting plenty of water, sports drink, juice,etc. in the days leading up to the race.
-Get a good night's sleep. Given the early start time we have on Saturday and some pre-race nerves, it's not unlikely that you may not get a ton of sleep the night before the race. Ultimately, this isn't a big deal and has not proven to have a significant impact on race day performance by and large.
So, don't sweat it too much. BUT, try to make a conscious effort to get a solid night's sleep on Thursday. Make it a quiet evening of quality, complex carbs, rest, and relaxation!
-Get your race bib. The Race Expo is open from 10AM-4PM on Saturday at The Hilton Hotel at 300 Almaden Boulevard in San Jose. You CANNOT participate in your event without a race bib and you CANNOT pick up yor race bib on race day!
Here is a link to the expo for more details- Silicon Valley Expo Details.
-Eat dinner early. Given the early race start time on Saturday morning, I'd encourage you to target 5PM or 5:30PM to get your final meal of the day.
Again, you probably want to focus on complex carbs for this meal and try to stay away from anything that is spicy or markedly different from anything you would normally eat. If you have a particularly sensitive stomach, you may want to plan on bringing your own food for this meal.
-Lay out your outfit for race morning. I'd STRONGLY encourage all of you to lay out all the items you need for race morning on a chair or on the floor next to your bed before you go to bed.
This includes your shirt, your hat, shorts, shoes, gels, socks, race bib, etc. Have everything laid out so that when you get up in the morning, you won't have to even think about it, you can just put everything on and you're good to go.
-Set your alarm clock, set your alarm on your cell phone, and request a wake up call from a friend or two (if they're willing). This three pronged approach virtually GUARANTEES you will be up in the morning on time!
You should plan on being near the race start area ABOUT 45-60 MINUTES PRIOR TO START! Make sure you allow enough time to at least have something small to eat before you head out for the race. This may mean getting up EARLY.
-ARRIVE AT THE START AREA ABOUT 45-60 MIN. PRIOR TO THE RACE! I'd STRONGLY encourage all of you to arrive about 45-60 min. early. This gives you time to warmup, use the bathroom, change clothes, and get positioned near the start.
-Pace Accordingly! OK, so you're probably going to feel pretty amped when the gun goes off, but please HOLD BACK and PACE ACCORDINGLY! You 'should' have a solid handle at this juncture on what you can maintain for 13.1 miles.
RESIST the urge to go out fast. If anything run a bit SLOWER the first few miles and EASE into your comfortable, conversational pace. I want to make sure you have something left in the tank those last few miles!
-Take water/sports drink at every opportunity. Even if you aren't necessarily feeling thirsty, TAKE IT ANYWAY! Some of you may have heard of 'hyponatremia' which is often associated with taking in too much water.
Let me emphasize that 'hyponatremia' is MOST PREVALENT in marathons where elapsed time on the road exceeds 4-5 hours. So, this means that there is virtually zero chance of this being an issue for any of you.
-How to handle water stops/stations on race day-There will be several of these along the course. Typically, there are several tables laid out. DO NOT GO TO THE FIRST TABLE YOU SEE!
Let the other runners slow down and bump into each other to get their water and sports drink. Try to go to the LAST TABLE you see at the water station to avoid slowing down or possibly stumbling. Certainly you can walk through the water stations if you like.
-How to drink water and/or sports drink on the run-When you get your cup of water or sports drink, pinch the top of the cup closed and fold one of the corners over so you effectively have a small, narrow 'spout'.
Pour carefully into your mouth. If you don't want to walk through water stops/stations, this is the best way I know of to drink while running.
-Take a gel, gu, clif shot, clif block,etc. every 45-60 minutes. Make sure you get some simple carbohydrates (gels, gus, clif blocks,etc.)in your system every 45-60 min. This will help you continue to perform at a high level. Make sure to wash any gels, gus, etc. down with WATER not sports drink.
-Be mentally tough! You've done the work. You've endured the long runs. You've tapered. You know how to fuel/hydrate properly. Remind yourself of all the hard work and preparation you've done those last few miles when you might be feeling a bit tired. YOU CAN DO THIS!!! YOU ARE READY FOR GLORY!
-Expedite race recovery. As quickly as possible, get a quality combination of carbohydrates/protein in your system (remember 4 carbs: 1 protein is OPTIMAL for recovery. Chocolate Milk has this ratio.)
I'd also encourage you to walk around for a few minutes to help increase circulation and help flush the lactic acid out of your system. ADDITIONALLY, make sure to rehydrate as soon as possible! Get some water, heed, and/or other fluids in your system ASAP! If you have a stick or foam roller handy, spend some quality time with it!