How to Prepare for a Race (or not)

April 21, 2010

in Life Lessons

Running Shoes

Race Day Essential

If you  read my last post and think the fact that two men in the last two years wrecked me emotionally the day before a race was lost on me, it was not. I was able to immediately make the connection last weekend and quickly alter my pre-race checklist to look like this:

1-Check weather and lay out race outfit the night before.

1-Avoid men, especially men romantically involved with, the day before.

2-Set out on counter race fuel (Shot Blocks, Clif bar) and mix electrolyte drink.

3-Race gear (bike, wetsuit, goggles, running hat, sunglasses, etc) by front door.

And the very long list goes on to include everything imaginable.

Actually, this list-making obsession was the old me. I had an emotionally-driven compulsion with list making. Everything was mapped out and there was such comfort derived from simply completing the list. I never  worried about the impossibility of completing 732 items on the list in a mere 2 hours. All that mattered was that I knew what needed to happen. I was the most tightly-wound, Type-A person and my lists were my daily marching orders. These lists helped to keep me together in very difficult times in my marriage; it was something I could have control over and brought order to my world.

Since the break-up of my marriage, I don’t live like that anymore. I don’t have a nervous breakdown if a throw pillow on the sofa is positioned at the wrong angle and I certainly don’t make lists. Well, except a few days before vacation. Those lists become a compilation of everything I should have done in the last 6 months. My kids even ask the morning of a trip, “Mom, are we going to 3 banks, the post office, dry cleaners, and Starbucks before we leave?” I feel like saying, “No, Smarty Pants. Mom has made tremendous progress with her life so we only have to go to 2 banks, the post office, and Starbucks!”

With the revelation on April 16th, I was not in the best emotional state before my race on the 17th. Add to this that I am not the compulsive list-maker anymore, it made planning everything necessary for this race a tough one. As I went to bed without even checking the weather for the next day, I tried to reason with myself that it was a duathlon, one sport less than a triathlon. I could throw it together in the morning, attach the bike to the back of my car, and I would be fine.

OF COURSE IT WAS NOT FINE.

Let’s start with the most embarrassing things:

  • I lined up minutes before the horn was blown without my race bib number on my body. I frantically hopped over the mesh barrier surrounding the transition area to grab it.
  • I left my bike helmet in the bathroom so I had to race back to get it right before lining up without the bib.
  • I forgot my sports watch so I would have no idea of pace and overall time.
  • I didn’t make it in time to hear race instructions in the pre-race meeting and had not even looked at the course map.
  • I didn’t bring the appropriate clothing for the temperature that morning.

There’s more, but you get the idea.

The moment I was lined up ready (wearing the race bib) to run, I was able to release the rattled feeling I had from being wholly unprepared for this race. Being a single mom has meant letting go of my attempt at perfection. I am being gentler with myself now and I am happier as a result. Letting go of the lists, learning to be spontaneous, and relaxing more has been essential for my own happiness.

To let go on race day and not feel the pressure was a good feeling. I raced that morning simply to enjoy the experience. I was also able to laugh at myself for being so unprepared.

You know what? I actually did well in the race. However, enjoying the experience was my greatest accomplishment that day.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

xylia hall May 2, 2010 at 10:00 pm

“Being a single mom has meant letting go of my attempt at perfection” – It’s ok to do this even if you aren’t a single mom you know?! And I am so incredibly proud of you for giving up your list obsession (if it were food… i think you’d be bulimic!). Celebrate your successes – no matter how small you believe them to be! Life is about moments. Or as they say “Happiness is in the details”

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David July 1, 2010 at 6:19 pm

List or no list, race prep is not a fun time. I always forget something. My biggest fear is losing my chip or not charging my watch. I once heard a gunshot while in a port-a-jon. Well, I missed the start and had to ride my ass off to catch up. The worst, I brought the wrong shoes to the race. Forgot my trail shoes and had on my roadies. You’re right though, forget it and and enjoy the moment. Life rolls on!

Love the blog. Good stuff

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Naked Girl in a Dress July 1, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Hey, thanks David!

Just did the DC Tri in June. I had to wake up at 3 AM. Transition area was closed with the first wave so we had to sit in another waiting area and of course I had to use the port-a-jon one more time before lining up for my wave. Since I had to leave shoes in transition and be ready to swim, was in the port-a-jon BAREFOOT. Most disgusting triathlon moment. I had to think at that moment: why do I love this so much?

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