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First 5k advice

Posted Aug 22 2011 10:18pm
A very dear friend of mine is about to run her first 5k. I awoke to find the following message in my inbox (convenient timing, given yesterday's commentary about  facing new challenges ):
On Mon, Aug 22, 2011 at 5:49 AM, wrote:
Subject: Bibs are not just for babies

So, my bib came in the mail today. Wanna give me some race day tips? :-)

My first thought: That might be the best email subject line.  Ever.
My second thought: Oh, where to begin???

After careful consideration, I came up with my list of five things that every runner should know before his/her first race. (Some are practical. Some are amusing. PS - all names and dates have been changed to protect the innocent.)

On Mon, Aug 22, 2011 at 8:33 AM, wrote:
Subject: Re: Bibs are not just for babies

Tip #1 - Do nothing on race day that you haven't done already. No new shoes. No new food. No new clothing. If you've been running without music: keep running without music. If you've been running with an mp3 player: make sure it's charged.

Tip #2 - Rest and be good to your body in the days leading up to the race. Get to bed a little earlier starting mid-week race week. (I can never sleep well the night before a race... so extra sleep earlier in the week helps.) I also skip alcohol for 3-7 days before a race (yes... you read that right. But that's probably more extreme than you need for this race.) Drink a little more water and don't eat any stomach-upsetting foods the day before the race. (Under no circumstances should you eat curry before the race! Going hungry is preferable to pre-race curry. See #4.)

Tip #3 - Figure out the basics that you need to bring with you (including what you're going to wear) for the race. Lay those things out the night before. (Minimum: Clothes. Socks. Shoes. Bib pre-pinned to your shirt. Timing chip secured to your shoe, if the race is using a timing chip. ID. $20 or credit card. Key(s). Sunblock(?).) Figure out whether or not you're going to bring a cell phone,* and if so, where you're going to put it.

Tip #4 - Pack a small wad of toilet paper or one of those little packaged wet-wipes (like they give you at seafood and BBQ restaurants). This is key. Port-o-lets sometimes run out of TP. Most race organizers have figured this out and stock accordingly. But I can't tell you how many times I've been glad I've packed my own. Nothing ruins a race like lack of TP.

Tip #5 - This is going to sound trite, but it's true: HAVE FUN. Write "My First 5k" in huge letters on your shirt** so more people will cheer for you. Take photos (or have ____ take photos). SMILE when you see the official race photographers - even if you are faking it. But don't fake it. Have fun. This is huge. You should be proud!
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