Now that I have done this three times, I feel that I am expert enough to share with you, my three readers, the ultimate half marathon race day preparation and execution plan (should you ever be inclined to run one).
1. Find a good training schedule. I use this one from runnersworld.com: Your Ultimate Half-Marathon Training Plan. I like this one because it has three different plans based on your level (beginner, intermediate, expert). Also, it provides much required rest days.
2. Team up with a running buddy for the long runs. Ideally, this person will be slightly better than you are and very dependable. In my case, this is my dear husband Todd (no, you cannot borrow him). Running for two and a half hours by yourself is just not that exciting - not even when watching VH1.
3. On the day before the race, eat a good pasta meal. We chose to eat ours at the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Nashville. This is conveniently located within walking distance of the Convention Center where you pick up your race number, timing chip, and t-shirt.
4. Get all your stuff together the night before. Put your race clothes on top of your dresser so that you can just throw them on when you get up, pin your number to your shirt, attach your chip to your shoe, get all your snacks together. This way you can maximize your sleep in the morning and you won't have to lie awake all night thinking about all the stuff you need to bring.
5. Don't snooze. Get up when the alarm goes off so that you don't have to feel stressed. Give yourself enough time to eat a nutritious breakfast, e.g. oatmeal with rasins and soy milk. You shouldn't eat any new foods around race time, since you don't know how your body is going to react to it.
6. Be prepared for the portapotties. These are so disgusting! Todd almost fainted when we had to stand outside of some for a while as our corral moved up to the start line. Anyway, bring Purell and Charmin To Go. You can never be too prepared for this.
7. Bring a heat wrap blanket. If you're like me and cannot stand to be cold, wrapping yourself in a bright orange heat wrap blanket before the race will keep you nice and toasty until it's time to run. This is also good for keeping out pesky rain.
8. Lie, I mean, be optimistic about your predicted finish time when you sign up. You don't want to get stuck in one of the corrals at the back (we made this mistake once again this year and did not get to start until 30 minutes after gun time). Plus, you may have to weave around walkers who were also very optimistic when they signed up.
9. Have your friends cheer you on. Seeing a familiar face in the crowd of spectators makes all the difference in the world. This year my awesome friend Katie came out and it gave us a boost that lasted for miles!
10. Watch the salt. Running -> sweating -> sodium depletion. Eat salty food like pretzels before and after the race and don't drink unless you're thirsty.
11. Bring dry clothes and comfy shoes. Change into these after the race. Make sure that the shirt is large enough to serve as a dressing room. Getting the sports bra off while wearing a shirt is a little bit more challenging than with a normal bra, but it is definitely possible.
12. Refuel. Tiramisu works great.
The race was awesome. We didn't achieve any PRs, but we ran the whole way and finished strong. Now my knees hurt, I can barely move, and I'm ready to crawl into bed... But I can guarantee you that I'll be doing it again next year.
If we don't go for the 26.2.