A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

How to Prepare for Race Day

A very short blog this morning before I go off to the races this morning.

How did I prepare for this race.



First, I knew exactly what type of race I'm doing. Today, I'll be the Long Island Greenbelt 50k. It is a trail race. It is two loops long. It also has a 25k race which is only 1 loop long.

I also note the small details of the race that might prove to be bigger than thought. In this race, the 50k starts at 7:30AM, but the 25k starts at 8:30AM. So the 25k and 50k races start off at different times. This might sound small but is a real big deal. Another race I know, the Staten Island Greenbelt Festival race in December, also has a 25k and 50k race, but starts off together. Why is this a big deal? Because in general 25k people will run faster than 50k people and the 50k people might get influenced by the faster 25k crowd. The race in December can be very tricky as the 50k people need to be careful not to run as hard as the 25k crowd, then blow up toward the end of their race.

With the race today, since the two races run at different times, there will be no influence by the 25k crowd on the 50k people. That's definitely a good thing.

Another thing I look at with races is the terrain. This is especially true if it was a trail race. Here's the map I looked at for this race.


This map is doubled for 50k. The map tells me that although Long Island might be mostly flat, I shouldn't be deceived for this race. The hills are manageable, but the race DOES have hills and will expect to climb a fair bit for this race. Since this is a trail race, I will bring my minimalist XC flats. I do have my hugely padded Hokas, but I will be saving those babies for my Grand Slam races.

The I look to see how frequent a certain race has aid stations. With road races, this might be a non-starter, since aid stations usually come at every mile, but for trail races, this can be a BIG issue. Often with trail races, this will influence my decision of what to wear for this race. If aid stations are infrequent, then I will wear my Camelbak to carry extra water and supplies  If the aid stations are plentiful, then I will probably only carry a water bottle. In this race, the aid stations are only about 4 miles apart, so I will only carry a water bottle during the race to keep it light.

The day before the race, I also will determine what food to eat and when, because it is absolutely critical to have a settled stomach for some races, especially one as long as this one. The time I eat the night before is important because it determines whether the food will pass through completely before the race or not.

Finally, the day before the race I take a look at the weather reports to see if that will influence what to wear during the race. In this case, the weather will be in the high 60's to low 70s with showers and T-storms likely. It's probably going to be a sloppy, muddy course out there, so I'll pack in a few towels to clean off during the race. For the race itself, the temperature is warm enough to stay with shorts and a short sleeve shirt. Since the race is long and my feet will most likely be wet, I will bring a lubricant like Bag Balm to put on my toes to prevent blisters.

I'll need to bring a change of clothes for after the race so that I can slip into something drier and more comfortable. With the day being this warm I don't need to bring my jacket. Just pants, shirt, and some underwear will be fine. I'll also bring a hat because rain is likely. I will also bring in some recovery food to eat for after the race.


Lastly, I try to arrive early to the race venue to take into account any traffic that might occur from my home to the race venue. If traffic is heavy, you have the time needed to get to the venue without a problem. If traffic is particularly light and I arrive early, I can always take a small nap before the race to settle myself down even further before race time.

This is precisely how I prepare for a race like this. I do this so that there are no surprises come race day. I want to be prepared as possible so that I know exactly how to start out on a particular race and how best to complete this race in the best possible time.

You've prepared yourself physically for a big race. Race day logistics like this is also just as critical as your training, so DON'T NEGLECT THIS. Start prepping for your big race at least a month before so that you know what race you're getting yourself into and what type of strategy you're going to need. You can also build a checklist for the race so that you have the right gear to take for your race.

If you prepare the right way, race day will go very smoothly, you will have the piece of mind you need, and you will increase your chances for a great outcome!

With that, I'm off to the Long Island Greenbelt 50k. You have yourself a great race also!

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