Running Race Jitters

One of my favorite scenes: "Nervous?" "A little." "First time?" "No, I've been nervous lots of times."

Gotta 'fess up: I'm nervous about the Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas half-marathon, which is now less than two weeks away. My nerves shouldn't be jangled--I've lost count of how many half-marathons I've run. Last spring, when I ran three 13.1-mile races in the span of eight weeks, I was feeling as confident as my older daughter when she's bossing her younger sibs around. But  now that I haven't stepped up to a starting line since May 21, I've got a case of stage fright. I know I can cover the distance--my training has been going really well (probably because I've been following one of two half-marathon training plans from our upcoming Train Like a Mother!)--but there are a lot of variables that have my brain in a tangle. Such as:

I'm no night owl.

-The race starts at 5:30 p.m. As in, at night. (Thus the race's nickname, "Strip at Night.") A creature of habit, I only run in the morning. I haven't run in the late afternoon or evening since my 1st-graders were wearing size 9-12 month clothes. Sure, the late start means I can sleep in, but then what am I going to do for the day? Not much of a gambler, I don't want to cruise the casinos. Lounging by the pool might be an option if it's warm enough, but I worry about the sun sapping my energy. I guess Dim and I could hang in our hotel room watching re-runs of "Friends" and "The Golden Girls" as we are wont to do on road trips but, again, I worry my energy level will start an unstoppable downward spiral. I'm an up-and-at-'em kinda gal but by day's end, I'm ready to get horizontal, not bust a move on a race course. And, don't even get me started fretting about what I'll eat that day or, ahem, how my bowels will react with a late start.

-The race has 44,000 entrants. FORTY-FOUR THOUSAND racers. And that's not including the 6,000 doing  the marathon that starts 90 minutes earlier. That is a heck of a lot of people, and I'm not much for crowds. My palms get damp and my breathing a little shallow simply visualizing the mass of humanity making their way to the corral or pounding down the closed-to-cars Strip.

-My last race was a painful experience thanks to my plantar fasciitis. The pain was only about a 2.5 on a 1-to-10 scale while I was running, but the moment I slowed to a walk after crossing the finish, it shot up to 9+ agony. My foot is symptom-free 99% of the time, but a fear of the pain returning bings around my brain. If I end up hobbled at the finish in Vegas, that pretty much crushes my ability to run Boston next spring.

That covers the biggie reasons why I'm biting my nails these days when I think about Stripping at Night. What sets off your pre-race jitters?

21 responses to “Running Race Jitters

  1. I too am a morning runner – and my first half this year was at night at 7.30pm. It was quite good because it meant I could have a slow start in the morning, plan my meals during the day and have a nap. I had a bagel as afternoon tea a few hours before the run and I also stopped drinking water 2 hours before the run although I had drunk heaps over the last 36 hours. I had a shot of espresso with about an hour to go and everything was fine. I didn’t feel tired (sleepy) during the run, however I did find it really hard to wind down after.

    It sounds like it will be so much fun !

  2. SBS! Here’s my thoughts on how you (and the rest of us doing stripatnight) can have a great race day/night (from past night race experiences):

    1. You and Dim are going to be on your feet lots at the expo so I’d suggest an ice bath on Saturday night because your legs will be fatigued. Yes, I know that could mean two ice baths in one weekend.
    2. Compression gear on and off on Sunday. Off by at least 90 min prior to the race. It’ll help your legs recover from the days before.
    3. Eat as clean as possible – and I’m sure there will lots of porta potties on course for stops. Try to finish your carb loading by Saturday night and eat lightly throughout the day on Sunday. Oatmeal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, fruits, veggies, and nuts for snacks.
    4. Don’t sleep in, but nap in the afternoon. When you wake up from your nap (ideally 3pm), pretend it’s morning, eat a pre-race meal (light like chicken salad and maybe some bread), wash your face, brush your teeth. Also, a cup of joe is fantastic to kick you into high gear. Don’t drink too much water or you’ll be lined up at you-know-where.
    5. Leave to be on time and not early, less standing around.
    6. Lounge around but don’t be too much of a bum – fresh air and sunlight will keep you alert. Also, do some intelligent things throughout the day – crossword, sudoku. Don’t spend too much time catching up on celebrity gossip.

    My plans are to hang by the pool but not soak up the rays. Stroll to the start/finish to take it all in, get my bearings, and make some better plans to meet up with the husband post-race.

    And, in the end you’re going to be laughing your butt off at all the Elvis’, show girls, and soon-to-be newlyweds, lined up to run. Plus the rest of us BAMR’s will be rocking it in our fashionista outfits.

    1. Kourtney, I L-O-V-E all your advice, especially the part about taking a nap, getting up by 3 p.m., then just acting like it’s a morning run! That’s positively BRILLIANT!

      And, yes, you hit another concern of mine: It *is* tough to be at expo whole day beforehand.

      But, hey, I’ll be meeting gals like YOU so it’s going to be a blast. Please make sure you tell me you are “Kourtney with K” so my overstimulated brain kicks in when we meet in LV!

    2. Great advice! Did you guys ever get one of those rubber air cushion mats to stand on at race expos?

      As for the actual race – someone I know got boxed in for 4 MILES at the NY Marathon a few weeks ago. Big races can create this, even though you are one of the zippier ones (he finished in 4:28). I like the “okay to go slower” advice, too.

      I always get jitters. Always. But I agree with another poster, they are usually gone by the first mile or so.

      And good luck with the poop drill. I’ve switched my runs to afternoon here lately and I’m all messed up. Maybe the nap + coffee mentioned by Kourtney will fix that part 🙂

      Can’t wait to hear all about it! You will be great!

  3. SBS- this post surprised me- it humainzed you- you always seem so “on your A game”- a little intimidating (although I’ve never met you in person- only through this Blog). You will mentally be challenged, but I think your physical ability will carry you through this race.

    I use to have issues with needing to pee right as the gun goes off, but I’ve gotten over that by a. going right before the race and b. realizing that most courses are set up with port o potties along the route.

    1. Thank you, Natalie. Most of my “on my A game” attitude is bravado. Dim knows me so well and she always encourages me to be more honest and human. Glad I took her advice…and you saw the softer-side-of-SBS.

      I like everyone’s advice to people watch. I’ll be fine once I’m in the element. Sometimes being a hermit-crab writer, the idea of crowds freak me out more than the people do in person.

      Goodness, now I sound like a shut-in! Yikes.

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