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Here is your eat, sleep, start, pace, and complete race day low down for the TC 10K!
There's a lot to cover, I've left out my usual storytelling and made it brief!
The day before the race, eat well. Eat normal, healthy, wholesome meals, the same as you always would. Do not overeat or undereat. A common favourite pre race meal is pasta with grilled chicken and some veggie. Basic. Potatoes, rice and some protein are also good, as is a tuna sandwich. There is no magic food, just simple and good food that you know works for you.
The morning of the race, get up and have your pre race meal at least 2 hours before the event. Don’t drink more coffee than you are used to and don’t drink a massive volume of water. This just makes for inconvenient bathroom stops.
Try to practice your pre race meal at least once before race day, before a morning training session. A favourite pre race meal is a toasted bagel with peanut butter and honey, and a coffee. If your'e a smoothie person, throw one on. If you find something that works, don’t veer from this.
If you are going to be on course for more than 90 minutes, you may want to consider a gel or small bar of approximately 100 calories at 45-60 minutes but this is something you want to practice in training as well.
Stay hydrated the day before the race, but it’s not necessary to over hydrate or pre hydrate or take any special hydration formula. Do what normally makes you feel good for training and in your daily life. Avoiding too much alcohol or caffeine is a good idea however, as both can interfere with a good sleep and hydration.
If you are going to drink on course, take small sips at aid stations.
Well before bedtime, the night before, put out your pre race clothing, pin your number, have your favourite lucky socks and underwear ready to go. Plan when you will leave the house and where you will park if you are taking your car.
Go to bed at a normal time and get your normal amount of sleep, but don’t sweat it if your sleep is short or not too great. You’ll still have plenty of energy for race morning. If you are a bit keyed up, then do something to stop that. Read, have a cup of sleepytime tea, or lie in bed and listen to a calming sleep meditation. Or simply lie in bed and relax and breathe. Imagine yourself on race morning, being calm, excited, ready and confident. Tell yourself that all is OK, and then rest.
When you wake up, switch that pre race brain on, the one you prepared the night before. Everything is planned and ready to go so there is no second guessing or thinking about that logistical stuff.
Eat your breakfast and drink your tea/coffee in the peace of your own space and feel happy that it’s finally race morning because it’s going to be a great day!
You already have this figured out. Leave early enough to nail this! There is lots and lots of parking on city streets, all within 1.5 km of the race start. And it’s simply a fantastic walk through downtown to the Legislature from any direction.
Start Area and Bathrooms
Study the maps online before race morning, and if you have time, go check it all out in the weeks beforehand. Find out where they are and line up early!
If you don’t have a Sherpa handy (AKA personal assistant, spouse, BF of GF or mom) then use the clothing drop. It’s a handy service and never a big deal.
Pre Plan your warm up. You may want to do an abbreviated version of what you do on clinic night or a light walk or jog about 30 min before the race. Light, slow and easy, just to warm up the body temperature. Do some arm circles and light stretching and simply stay calm and in the moment. Be amazed at yourself for being there, at this super cool event!
Have an idea of where you should be in the corrals and seed yourself accordingly. If in doubt, be conservative as it’s much easier to run past people at 3km, than to feel like the world is swimming over you at the mass start.
Standing and Waiting
Make friends, and simply be patient. Swing your arms and check your body for being relaxed. Check that your laces are tied tightly, for the 15th time.
Remember, there may be thousands in the race, but you are only really starting with the 100 friends that are right with you. Don’t think too much about the numbers of people, there is room for us all.
Look up, look ahead, and make space for yourself. Be agile and ready to break stride or to move around someone. Especially, right off the start gun, where it is really crowded, don’t fiddle with anything or make any sudden unexpected movements. Hold your line steady and be super aware.
OOPS! Have to tie your shoes because you didn’t do it in the corral while you were waiting for the singing of Oh Canada? Forgot to start your Garmin? Please don’t stop abruptly in a foot race as this will cause a pile up behind you. Slowly make your way to the side of the road, in a diagonal forward moving fashion. That is, don’t suddenly shoot sideways to the curb across oncoming runners. Once safely out of the way, take a quick look behind you before stopping and re tying your shoes.
Start slower than you think you should. It will still be too fast. Let people pass, check your ego, listen to your effort and sense of work rate. Think Zone 2 effort, patience and consistency. Slow down on the up hills while keeping energy constant.
If you feel you need to walk, this is totally ok, but start using your watch and give yourself 2 min walk breaks for every 10 minutes of running, unless you have a pre set walk/run plan.
Making Friends/going solo: the Extrovert and the Introvert Runner
Some people want to run with others, some people want to walk alone. Some people laugh and chat all the way through a race, and seem to be able to make lifelong friendships through the shared gruelling experience of endurance, while others will be quiet and draw only on inner strength. These athletes have a look of intense concentration and focus and just want to do their thing. Alone. There is room for both types of athlete on race day - however recognize which type you are and be mindful of others. The last thing an introvert wants is to have a chatty run partner knocking their elbow for 8 kilometers.
Do what comes naturally. To that point, there is no rule about how much fun you can have while participating in an event. As long as you aren’t getting in the way of other people enjoying their own race, and you are using common sense and good sportsmanship, then go ahead, have a great time!
Be aware, keep your head up, no sudden movements, and keep your place in the queue. Yep, be Canadian at the water stops and be polite. It helps to make eye contact about 10 metres out of the station, with the person you want to take water from. You can point to the cup in their hand, which indicates that you want that cup and that assures you are both ready for the hand off. If you miss the cup, try to avoid putting the brakes on as there is likely a runner right behind you and you’re going to cause a collision.
Sportsmanship: Be Nice and Have Good Manners
This includes being nice to volunteers and spectators as well. Foot races are what we do for fun, and they are not a contact sport; aside from the jostling that may go on at the beginning of the race, or during a water station, give other participants space to do their thing.
I am not even going to elaborate on this. Just BE NICE.
Drafting and passing
The nuances of playing the game of racing while still being a good sport.
There are no rules against drafting others in foot races, but there are the usual unspoken rules about doing your part and not being a total ‘taker’. It can often be windy coming back along Dallas Road from the Ross Bay cemetery in the TC 10k, and if you are with a group of runners, it makes sense to take turns pulling and drafting. Pulling is the name for the person in front, who is leading into the wind. Drafting is what you are doing if you are running as close behind that person as possible in order to stay out of the wind. You save energy by drafting, a significant amount of energy, so it’s only fair that you do your bit and run at the front for a bit as well. Sometimes you are barely hanging on in the draft and when you go to the front to pull, your place slows considerably. You may get passed back quite quickly, but hey, at least you tried and you made the effort. That counts as being a good sport. Drafting for 9.9km and then outsprinting the dude who pulled you through the whole race just doesn’t cut it.
The only thing you need to know about passing, is that you need to make it clean. Don’t feel badly about needing to pass anyone, as this is your race. You can give the person a nod or smile of encouragement as you pass, and just make sure you don’t cut them off too soon after the pass.
A side note here about passing at the start: Seeing as most people start too fast and have to slow down, a lot of passing and jostling happens at the start of races. Eventually the back and forth ends as people settle into pace. You can simply avoid the energy cost of all that accelerating, by being patient for the first 1-2k and don’t get caught up in having to pass or chase every person out there.
I think the biggest thing to remember is that while a lot of blood flow is heading to your heart and lungs, your brain is still working. Use you head and stay calm and positive. Even when swept up in the heat of the moment and the fun of the competition, we need to keep perspective and use good judgement. Remind yourself often while you are out there, that it is your choice to be in the race, that it is a wonderful gift to be able to run through the streets of Victoria on a Sunday morning. No matter what happens out there, you put in a lot of effort and training to get to the start line - be proud of what you've done!
I hope this answers a lot of questions for race day, and is a refresher for those who have raced before. If you still need an answer to that concern or question you’ve been mulling over, please contact me here. I love helping to make race day smoother for you all.
Run For Joy