With the fabled Western States 100 starting tomorrow (good luck everyone!), I got to thinking: What do runners do before a big race? Any strange rituals or quirky behavior (I mean, beyond the normal strangeness and quirkiness of ultrarunner behavior)?
I want to hear from you! Here's what some of my running pals had to say:
Kirk Fortini: "Before every race, I can be a pain in the ass. I will go from one end of my truck to the other, inside and out, and detail it until it's in near new condition. It's kinda asinine when you consider that most of the places we park our rides during the races are dusty, and my truck is usually covered in several strata of soil by the time my slow ass gets off the course and returns to it. That's not to mention all of the debris that I track inside it when I hop in for the ride home.
"I also go to extremes with some other small points of prep. The tire pressure gets checked the day before I leave, fluid levels are looked at, etc. Then, about two days before I leave, I start placing things into my truck. The drop bags, fresh clothes, anything and everything. It all gets put exactly where I know that I'll be reaching for it when I get to my truck, and most of the time takes into account a certain efficiency of motion. Nothing is accidental about where the stuff is put." (My take: Yes, dude, and you also groom yourself to look like the stud you are. The proof is in this picture, taken before the 24-hour Nanny Goat run -- you handsome devil, you.)
Leon Gray: While not superstitious, here's something more practical: I try not to eat a big meal, i.e., "carbo load," the night before. I prefer to do my big meal as an early lunch so I’m not looking for the nearest porta potty the next morning. And I triple triple check everything. I’ve almost forgoten kinda important stuff like shoes, etc. (My take: The trails -- and all of us -- thank you, Leon!)
Marissa Licon: "I always 'go to bed' super early, planning to get extra sleep, then I lay in bed awake unable to sleep from pre-race excitement, usually never get more than three hours despite having gone to bed 8-10 hours before I need to wake up...even though I know I won't be able to sleep I still continue to do this every race. I also look at pictures of people who I care very deeply about, as if I won't be seeing them for a long time...lol...or at least it seems like a long time on the trails." (My take: Just drink coffee all night and call it a day -- or, in this case, a night : ))