Rugged Individualist. Certified USA Triathlon Coach & NASM Personal Trainer, Men's Self Improvement Coach. President of Go Farther Sports. National Ranked Triathlete & 100 Mile Grand Slam Ultrarunner, 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.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Please, Please, PLEASE Prepare for Race Day!

You've trained all year for your big race, you put in the necessary hours of hard work, and sacrificed a lot to get to race day ready to have the race of your life, and then... arrive late for your big race.

That is exactly what I saw when volunteering for the NYC Marathon this morning. I was assigned with the Staten Island Athletic Club to run the starting corrals that organize runners according to their seeded times. Since the race was very large (45,000 runners estimated), we needed 3 waves to organize the runners into their respective groups. And there were exact times to open up the gates to allow the runners into the corrals and there were exact times to close the gates so that the wave can be led onto the starting line on the bridge. 

Although I wasn't surprised at having our share of people who try to sneak or barge into our corral with the wrong bib numbers that I had to send away, I was really shocked at the number of people who come to the gates after they were supposed to be closed. The gates closed with the first wave at 8:55 AM. The runners are well aware through their instructions that this was the case. Yet the crush of runners trying to get through AFTER that time was amazing to behold. Of course, being human, I allowed many of them to get in, but c'mon...10 minutes after closing time you want to get in, while the wave was moving out? Sorry Charlie. Wait until the next wave. This is really no way to start your race day.

The second wave was even worse. At least 20 people were trying to get in at one time at one point. We had to close the gates fast because the flood of people trying to get in was going to throw the whole operation into chaos.

Our volunteer group had numerous people trying to cajole us to open the gates. We had to turn them down and even threatened one with disqualification for trying to barge through the gate. All because they arrived extremely late.

Believe it or not you do not go on the clock at the moment the race starts. Your timer really starts at least the day before your race, when you receive your final instructions on when and where you go before the race starts. Read those instructions and find out when you are supposed to report to your bus to transport you to the start, or when the transition area opens for your big triathlon, where to park your car, etc. Develop your itinerary on what you need to do at certain times. This is to assure yourself the peace of mind that comes when you are not late. 

The race itself is going to be stressful enough, why put further stress on yourself by showing up late?

The night before the big race I set up no less than 3 alarms, set about 10 minutes apart for race day. If I'm at a hotel, I ask the hotel to give me a wake-up call on top of that. I also make sure that my gear is out and ready to use before I go to sleep; why fumble around for missing clothes on race morning? For a triathlon, if the transition area is open at 5:30AM, I make sure that I'm there at 5:00AM. It's the little things like these that are the difference between a stress free race start and a stressful race start. And if everything goes so well that I can wait around for 40 minutes or more, I take a nice quick nap to sharpen the mind. And those naps are wonderful; I'm at the race, everything is prepared, and I'm now waiting for the race gun to go off. It's a nice, relaxing feeling.

Folks, you've done all the hard work leading up to the race. You need to follow through for just one more day. Preparing your race morning the day before your race is as critical as your training leading up to your race. A stress-free start to your race will go a long way toward fulfilling your race day goals.

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