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Sunday, January 13, 2013

So You Want to Race...A Few Tips

So it is January, the time our minds turn to improving ourselves, and for some folks that means starting a new exercise program like running.  I say welcome aboard.  I love running; so I only hope others will join in and share that same love.  There is running around your neighborhood or local park by yourself or with your friends or family and then there is racing.  You might think it would be so exciting to join a race and be surrounded by others all out to enjoy the communal experience of running together.  It is fun.  Running in races gives runners a reason to lace up in less than ideal weather or get out of bed when all common sense says what is your problem?  Do you know it is 4:30 in the morning?

If you are doing your first race here are a few things I have learned that might help you and your fellow runners get the most out of the race.

1) If you know you are a new and slower runner don't start in the front.  As you run more you will realize that so much of your energy is wasted zig zagging past runners who would enjoy the race more if people were not constantly pushing past them.
2) If you need to take a break and walk that is so okay as long as you pull over to the right.  Not so okay if someone is running behind you and you just stop; at that moment you cease to be a fellow racer  and become a somewhat pliable speed bump.
3) Running with friends and partners is great.  Becoming a moving version of "Red Rover Red Rover" is not so cool.  Running or walking five abreast on a narrow race course can put other runners trying to pass you all in a risky position.  Ever try to pass someone while one foot is in a gutter and another is on the sidewalk?  We can look at as a great balance drill but most of us just curse you all under our breath.
4) Racing is multi-sensory event.  Sometimes we get carried away snapping pictures, socializing, and we forget to pay attention to things like when the Porta-Potty is vacant or you are next in the T-shirt pick up line.  It is really  important to keep lines moving.
5) Courtesy counts!  If the race has a staggered start and there are folks behind you who are supposed to race before you; it is okay to offer your place in the Porta-Potty line or the number pick up line.  Maybe someday you will benefit from the same courtesy.
6) Racing in sucky weather is a challenge for the runner, but usually the adrenaline from running minimizes that.  Volunteering to stand stick still and cheer on total strangers in inclement weather and hand them water, really sucks!  Always thank volunteers even if you are gasping for air!  It is just as easy to wheeze "thanks" as "oh My God."

With all that said I hope your first race is only the beginning. I know for me I finished my first race and proudly announced I would never do that again!  Also I am pretty sure I did everything listed above.  So by now you know I am either really melodramatic or a liar.  Hope this January you took up running and you found a new love!  Happy running and courteous racing to all!!

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