Race morning. Two words that can conjure up majestic mental images of determined runners standing amongst their peers and breathing in the crisp pre-dawn air, anxiously awaiting to undertake their latest REVEL marathon journey.
Or those two words might make you picture a sleep-deprived and profanity-filled chaotic mad dash to wake up, shove some food down your throat, get dressed, grab all of your gear and get out the front door without losing your mind.
So if your typical race day ritual reminds you of a scene straight out of The Three Stooges, then here are a few helpful hints to allow you to relax and get to the race with your sanity mostly intact.
Being Alarmed: One of the greatest fears racers have is oversleeping or missing the alarm. It's an understandable concern because for races we're typically getting up pre-dawn or as I like to call it, "stupid o'clock." So how many alarms should you set? The best answer is as many as you need to feel relaxed. I set three alarms, but I know some people who set as many as five. A good strategy is to put one on your nightstand, a back-up a little further away and then one clear across the room (that requires you to get fully out of bed) as a final safety measure. And this is one time you shouldn't use and abuse the snooze. When that alarm first goes off, get up and get going. You've got things to do.
Waking the Neighbors: Just because you're getting up at an hour that makes roosters blush doesn't necessarily mean everyone else is too. If you've got people waking up at the same time to cheer you on, that's great. But remember that you might have to wake up and get ready silently and in the dark so as not to disturb your partner, roommates, kids, pets, etc. Be organized, know where you're walking (no stubbed toes on race day) and use your smartphone's flashlight if you need some extra illumination.
Bathroom Business: Let's just say that when you wake up on race morning, there is often business to be taken care of. If possible, get up a few minutes early because you're probably not on your normal morning schedule. Things may take a wee bit longer than usual. But don't freak out if your business is left unfinished because REVEL races always have an abundance of porta-potties at the start area and throughout the course.
Dress for Success: Race morning is not the time to decide what you're going to wear. Veteran runners will tell you that they assemble their outfit the night before a race. A popular method is to place your entire outfit on an empty chair or table in the corner of the room. And here's an important note, fill out the emergency info on your bib and attach it to your shirt the night before. You don't want to try to pin your bib when you're rushed on race morning as you might discover those safety pins aren't quite as safe as their name implies.
"Weather" or Not: Weather is always the great unknown. It's amazing how forecasts can drastically change even at the last minute. How cold will it be? Is it going to rain? The best thing to do is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. You might want to pack an extra top for before the race, or a bring along an emergency poncho in case the skies open up. The good news is REVEL races have pre-race gear check so you can pack up your extra supplies and have them waiting for you at the end of the race. And your REVEL swag includes a pair of gloves and a Mylar blanket to help keep you warm on race day morning.
Last Look: On race morning you've got a million things running through your mind simultaneously. As a result, it's very easy to get distracted and forget something important. You don't want to be driving to the race only to realize that your GPS watch is still sitting on your nightstand. Before you leave, take a final look to make sure you have everything you need. Make a checklist if it helps, but be sure you've got all of the essentials before you step out the door.
Removing Road Rage: On race morning, you'll most likely be driving to meet the REVEL shuttles to take you to the start line. So the night before, make sure you know exactly where you are going. Print out the map, or enter the information into your GPS program ahead of time. And make sure you've got plenty of fuel in your car. You don't want to be frantically searching for a gas station at four in the morning or driving on fumes while looking for parking. Wouldn't you rather just enjoy a stress-free pre-race drive with some off-key carpool karaoke?
As you've noticed, most of these hints have a common theme: be prepared. Race mornings are hectic by definition, so do yourself a favor and take whatever steps you can to help avoid or lessen any potential headaches. Plan ahead, give yourself plenty of extra time and above all… relax.
Pre-race chaos is common, and a fun topic of conversation to share with your fellow racers on the shuttle. Just hope you're not sitting next to someone who set six alarms. That's just plain nuts.