Race Day Ritual

I’ve had a lot of people lately asking me what I do the morning of a half-marathon up until the start.

I have a tried and true routine. And it isn’t paleo. but I can’t seem to stray from it. Seeing as how I got second place in my age group in the Jacksonville Marine Corps Half Marathon that I competed in a couple weeks ago (and 14th out of 2176 females), I would say it’s working for now.

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Note The excellent outfit coordination. My shoes matched too:)

The course was in downtown Jacksonville, it had 3 bridges and it was 100% humidity that morning. Needless to say I didn’t get a PR. But it was a still a fun race that I would probably do again!

Anyway, prerace routine:

I try to wake up at least 3 hours before race start. (this can be tough, but I need the time to digest)

Right when I get up I have plain green tea and a small sweet potato with cinnamon and almond butter.

Then I put some gummies in a plastic bag to keep in my bra for during the race (I used to use honey stinger ones but I’ve decided I like PowerBar brand better, they are easier to chew and don’t get stuck in my teeth). I also keep a GU on hand (they usually are supplied on the course, but I am picky about the flavors – Vanilla Bean and Espresso Love are my faves. I don’t do the fruity ones. Blech).

I like to get to the course at least an hour and a half before start time. If I run at all, it’s only a few strides. I do mostly dynamic stretches and plyos and jump around a bunch.

about 40 minutes before race time I eat half a Clif Bar and head to the starting line. By now I have had about 16 oz of water and don’t drink again except for a couple sips 15 minutes before when I have my Gatorade Prime.

I always push my way to the front. Why? Because every time I start in a group true to my pace, I leave them all in the dust and have to elbow my way past the people who shouldn’t have lined up where they did. No one is honest anymore.

At this point I make sure I have a sweet playlist all queued up and my laces tied tight and tucked in. Then I reset my watch, and look around to find people I’m gonna try to pass.

I think it’s settling to have some sort of mantra to repeat to yourself when you wait for the gun to go off. It usually gives me a little bit of confidence and also makes me feel like a total bad ass.

Mine comes from a particular moment when I was first trying out for Varsity Crew at UCF. The girls I was about to compete with for a place on the team had been rowing much longer than me. Their muscles were bulging from their trou and they were walking around like they owned the boathouse; I was cowering in the corner dreading going up against them.

Right before we all lined up for the tryout test on the rowing machines, my coach pulled me aside.

‘Trust Your Fitness.’

That was all she said. It stuck with me. I had been training hard all summer, harder than the other girls. I knew that; my coach knew that. And I beat all of them that morning.

When you line up against all of those people on race day, you’ll get what you worked for. You may not be sure how you measure up, but you know how many miles you have put in. This 5-10 minutes before the race can make or break your performance and your overall experience in my opinion. It is so easy to get psyched out by everyone around you doing crazy stretches you start thinking you should be doing and wearing fuel belts or compression sleeves that you start thinking you should have invested in. The worst though are all those people with the bangin’ bods wearing what look like bikini bottoms acting like they are in the olympics or something.

At this point I put my headphones in and ignore all of this going on around me. I tell myself to trust my fitness. I repeat it over and over. I know I’m fast. I know I’m better than most of the showoffs around me, and even if I’m not, I can still beat them if I want it badly enough. This is the attitude you have to go into it with; it’s the one that causes you to surprise yourself, and makes you know you can push harder and go faster the next time.

So, obviously, everyone’s morning is going to differ on race day. After a few times you begin to find what works for you and when, but I think the main things to stress are to wake up early enough, stick to plyos and strides for a warm up to¬†avoid running too much beforehand, bring pre-race and mid-race fuel that you trust and have used before, and find yourself a mantra or phrase that will help you focus and get you ready to race.

Speaking of racing, I’ve got a marathon in 4 weeks now (December 1st). This week I am going to try and get about 75-80 miles in, and ease off into a taper from there.

After that, we’re looking at 4 months til Boston, and the real fun begins!

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Sloppy Smoothies and Race Dates

Okay, so this morning was a blur. I had a job interview but wanted to get a tempo in beforehand so I set my alarm for super early to give me plenty of time to eat, run, and get ready… but that didn’t really work out. I woke up late knowing that it would be dumb to try and squeeze a workout in and still get out the door on schedule. But I can be pretty dumb sometimes.

Usually my smoothies are pretty well thought out – there was no time for that this morning.
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That being said, If anyone wants the recipe for this one, tough luck, because I don’t even really remember what is in this.

I figured I wouldn’t have to worry about sweetening it because I’m pretty sure that’s half of a pineapple in there. Along with some kale, some spinach, a banana, almond milk, and an excessive amount of ice. Then I looked at it and second guessed my initial sweetness confidence, so I threw some strawberries and blueberries in too.

Oh and I also put some chia seeds and flax seeds in there too, but those are pretty much smoothie staples for me. And maybe some almond butter? I don’t remember. As I mentioned earlier – this morning: total blur.

It was actually really frickin good. Kind of tasted like green machine. And it definitely looked like it too. Which i’m not mad at.

Anyway I drank the whole thing. Fast. Bad move. Felt like vomming for my whole run. But on the bright side, I made it in time to my job interview. And I’m still really full.

More good news – my registration window opens up for the Boston Marathon tomorrow! EEEEEEEEeeee!!!!!
I have a half marathon on October 5th in Jacksonville (Marine Corps Half Marathon) but I’m gonna be honest, I haven’t really been on the ball with my training.
I’m just gonna wing it and see how I do, and focus more on the Space Coast Marathon on December 1st. I’ve heard it’s a great course; I had to sign up months in advance to get a spot so I’m pretty pumped.
My plan is to use this race as a baseline time to see where I am starting out in my training for Boston. That will give me 4 months to get where I want to be. I think I’m going to push for sub 3:10.

So now that i’ve got my race schedule all set, and this Boston thing is really happening (WTF) I guess I should start putting together a real life training plan.
Once that happens, I’m hoping to post more consistently with descriptions of what and when I’m eating, along with what my workouts are and how I feel before, during and after them. I’ve decided the only way to achieve optimal performance is to analyze these things and take note of what I get the best personal results from in my training. So anyway, look for that coming soon! <– I say that as if I actually have followers! ha!

XC Camp

Nothing like a few days isolated in the mountains of South Carolina to clear my mind.

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This is my 7th year making this summer running trip to Cross Country camp, and my 4th year as a counselor. It was good to get away from everything and hit the trails with some pretty awesome people. But now I have a lot of catching up to do – especially with the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Mary Cain, is that a joke? Crazy crazy girl.

Anyway, camp was great, had a lot of good times and hard workouts, but I definitely got off the paleo grind for a minute. It was hard to keep it together with bread and cereal and pasta all around me, especially after a long run. I don’t know if it is just mental, but i feel like a detox is in order. Hopefully it won’t be hard to get back into the swing of things, i’m feeling real sluggish now. At least I have phone service and internet back, although I can’t really decide if I even missed it. i liked being unreachable.

Samuel Vazquez flew in to visit and speak to the campers on our last night, and it was just so inspirational. I met Sam back in my first year at camp, when he was a counselor and I was brand new to running. I’ve always looked up to him and admired him for many reasons, but his talk about his journey to the Olympics was such a rush. Learning about his struggles and his hard times on and off the track left me with an even deeper respect for him, and motivation to pursue my own dreams. Sometimes I get unsure of myself, and lack confidence of my strengths and abilities, especially when I am surrounded by people that are so talented and superior to myself.

But the thing is, we all have to start somewhere. And I think our limits actually lie far beyond our awareness. I might have to take 40 minutes off of my marathon time to qualify for the Olympics, but who says I can’t do that. Won’t know unless I go for it.

I’m officially a blogger!

Okay. First post. I’m new to the whole blogging thing but hopefully I’ll get the hang of it soon. I figure blogging is a good indicator of success in people. Or something.

I think the hardest part about making one is convincing myself that there are people out there who could actually care what I have to say, but whatever. Here goes.

I was boring my roommates yesterday about an article that I read on the Boston Marathon website announcing that they were going to be giving invitations to all the people who did not get to finish the race this year when one of them interrupted me (RUDE) with:

“Are you ever going to get sick of it?”

“..What?”

“Running. When you’re not running, you’re talking about it. Don’t you think you’re gonna just be over it one day?”

I feel bad for people who haven’t figured out what they are passionate about yet. I don’t want to be dramatic but running is the reason I get up in the morning. My mom told me once that a lack of passion is what gets people into trouble.

So it’s great i’ve figured out what I love to do, what my life revolves around. I guess that’s the first step to deciding what to do with your life, right?

I’ve got two months until I graduate with a degree in Sport Exercise Science. Two. Months. Ask me if I had any idea college was going to go by that fast. What comes next? Grad School? Everyone says to just keep going to school if you don’t know what to do with yourself. I guess that’s good advice… stay busy. Sounds pretty awful. I am ready to start a life and be a real person with a career. The problem is, all I really want to do is run and read articles about nutrition and integrative medicine (Thanks Robb Wolf and Chris Kresser, you are to blame for my Paleo obsession). How does that translate into a big girl job?

I’m just going to have to become famous for my unique writing style and incredible blogging skills.