I am now exactly three weeks out from my Big Spring Race, and you know what that means, right?
Cue the crazy!
This year’s Big Event presents even more opportunities for pre-race anxiety because I’m traveling (with daughter and boyfriend) to run … the Paris Marathon!
“Mom, some people travel places without running marathons,” said my daughter, age quatorze, who is, like many teens, a master of the deadpan death stare.
Even after all these years of running (and traveling to) races, I still get pre-event nervousness. Even three weeks out. Doesn’t everybody? Don’t you?
My friend Jodi, who is coming up on her 100th marathon (!) and lives what we speak, calls it being torqued.
But why? Asked an uncomprehending nonrunning civilian. Why so nervous after all these years? Some people say it means you’re invested in the outcome. Or maybe it’s just a distraction from life’s “real” problems. It certainly serves as a locus for all the crazies.
Three weeks out is a good time to go through my running-travel gear checklist before I come completely blinded by pre-travel mania. It may seem obvious, but like the flight attendant reminding you to put your tray tables in a locked an upright position for takeoff, it bears repeating, if only for the sake of sanity.
CARRY ON (or wear) THE SHOES
Of course the fresh new running shoes I bought in January as inspiration and motivation to train for Paris are no longer fresh or new and the updated version has a narrower toe box uncomfortable for my bunions. Wah!
Travel tip (and note to self): Your shoes are fine. Don’t try anything new on race day. Pack your running shoes in your carry-on.
Related: You can wear running shoes to walk around the city post-race. No one’s going to mistake you for a Parisienne anyway.
TAKE ALL THE WATCHES
Garmin or Timex Ironman? The Paris Marathon is, of course, 42 kilometers. Who knows their pace per kilometer? Who can do math in a marathon? Nicht moi. (Oh wait, that’s a German French mashup.)
In the NYC marathon in November, I didn’t wear the Garmin because its BEEP at every mile never lines up perfectly with the mile markers on the course and that stresses me out.
In a recent half-marathon, I used the Timex instead of the Garmin and the course was NOT marked with every mile marker, and not knowing where I was mileage-wise stressed me out. (You might be inclined to say, Tish, you are easily stressed. Yep.)
As the New York Times’s Jen A Miller recently and helpfully explained, the Garmin is not 100% accurate (sorry to burst the bubble if you didn’t already know). And I am running the Paris Marathon NOT for a specific time goal—because that would just add another layer of insanity—but for a four-and-a-half hour foot tour of the city’s sights. (And some people just travel to Paris without running a marathon. Pfft.)
What does my pace-per-km matter anyway? So the Garmin or the Timex?
Note to self: Take both.
REMEMBER BRA AND SOCKS
My sister is an accomplished 50 Stater, meaning she’s run a marathon in every state, which obviously means she traveled to races a lot. You’d think she’d have the whole travel-gear equation nailed. But … see pre-marathon mania, above.
At 10 o’clock the night before the Bayshore Marathon, in Traverse City, Michigan, she was laying out her gear for the next morning's race, and guess what she discovered she had forgotten to pack? Yep, her sports bra.
She ran the marathon in her bathing suit tankini top.
Which begs the question: Why did my sister remember to pack a bathing suit for a marathon trip to Michigan but not a sports bra? (See? Crazy.)
Gear travel tip: Tuck rolled-up sports bra and running socks into running shoes in the carry-on bag. Check and check.
A NOTE ABOUT DESTINATION RACE GOALS
Some people have great success traveling far from home to run races and set world records or qualify for the Boston marathon or log a new personal record or break four hours for the first time. And good on them!
But that person is not me. I’ve had the great opportunity to travel to a lot of races over the years, but I’ve also learned that rarely if ever do I run my “best,” if by that we mean a “fast” time. There’s just too much additional stress in travel—time changes; different roof, bed, food, water; language; even running customs. Just for example, in the Paris marathon, if you can believe it, they don’t serve Gatorade on the course! Sacre bleu!
For me, the goal has to just be going, seeing, doing. Wish me bonne chance, dear AMR tribe, with all the things!
ALL THE OTHER STUFF
Shorts with side pockets. Short sleeves, tank, long sleeves. Lavender essential oil (for better sleep and to calm the nerves). Endurolytes (because no Gatorade!). Justin’s peanut butter and honey packets. Barbara’s animal crackers. Post-race Birkenstocks.
[Want an item-by-item list? Check out our Half-Marathon Gear List—it works for pretty much any race distance.]