Worth it

Bob: A large box came for you today. It’s in the living room

Adin: It's probably my new sheets for school

Me: Actually it’s my wetsuit from the dive shop at the beach

Which is more significant?

1. "Wetsuit” and “dive shop” are part of my vocabulary
2. They're so used to seeing me in workout clothes neither member of my family was mildly phased

I’m not planning to open the box until after my race on Sunday.  This time last year?  I would have registered annoyance that Connecticut Avenue would be closed on a random Sunday morning before I would have spent 2 minutes thinking about registering to run a race anywhere, ever.

Thoughts about the Bethany Tri next weekend and the Reggae Marathon in December periodically crash into my brain but I’m not letting them get me crazy. If I’ve learned anything about mindfulness over the last year I know enough to acknowledge the thoughts but not let them sabotage my training for what’s right in front of me: The Parks Half Marathon, this Sunday, in my neighborhood.  Rain or shine.

The last time I ran 13.1 miles was at the Women’s Half in Central Park in April.  There are some differences between these two events that are worth mentioning.

1. The organizers of the Parks Half strongly discourage the use of electronics. If you don’t agree to run without them you are not eligible to race for prize money.  I’ve happily checked the box taking myself out of prize money competition.  I use music to fuel my runs just like water and Swedish fish so unplugging is just not an option right now.  Even though I could use the prize money to pay for my rental wetsuit, I also realize I am hundreds of races away from any possibility of seeing any prize other than finishing or any money except maybe coins I spot on the side of the road but probably unable to pick up anyway.

2. The Parks Half has a course time limit of two hours and forty-five minutes.  I can’t tell if the clock starts with the first wave or the last but in any case that means I can’t dawdle or stop to use the bathroom unless it’s an absolute emergency. I’m also planning to fuel while running and although I’ve been practicing that on my weekly long runs I'm still a novice when it comes to multitasking on the trail.

3. Mia, my race pit crew extraordinaire, will not be present. I don't know how I can do a race without her so don't expect much. 

A few people have asked me if I have any superstitions or special routines before a race such as wearing a pair of lucky underwear.  I really don't rely on anything like that although I do have a lengthy and specific regimen to get me mentally and physically ready in the days and moments before a race.  

1. Refine my race playlist. I start by including songs that remind me of something thrilling or fun or powerful or that trigger a special memory.  Sometimes I can coax someone I care about to share a favorite song. Then when I hear it I can spend a few minutes thinking about the person and smiling. I've got some oldies on my list that I remember making out to when I was younger and when I hear them they take me back in a really fun and silly way.

2. I start adding more (good) carbs to every meal about 5 or 6 days before the race. I want to have plenty of glycogen stores Sunday morning because if you've experienced running out you know how painful it is when you hit a wall. I've lost 4 pounds since taking this approach so I'm not worried about gaining weight. My favorite carbs are sweet potato gnocchi, basic spaghetti, whole wheat Israeli couscous, and brown (sushi) rice, which I buy in bulk at a Korean grocery store and prepare in a rice cooker.  Since I'm still avoiding nuts my trail mix has equal parts coconut flakes, banana chips, dark chocolate chunks, and whole grain cereal. Adin calls this my (really dangerous) monkey mix. And I'm incorporating lean proteins.

3. I'm set in my ways where running fashion is concerned. On race days I like to wear my Lululemon compression shorts because they have easy-to-reach side pockets that hold a whole lot of Swedish fish and an extra battery for my iPhone. It just comes down to color and whether I'm feeling a sleek black vibe. I won't know until race day but as of today I'm feeling more violet / white or gray. It also depends on whether or not there's rain. On top I do Under Armour or Nike, and on my feet I've got the greatest Brooks running shoes that have really, seriously changed my life.

4. Speaking of feet, starting on Monday I am not wearing my usual spikey heels at work. As much as I am pretty comfortable in heels my arches cramp up and I'm spending too much time rolling the bottoms of my feet on a pinky ball. I've been experimenting this week by wearing my knee-high Cole Hahns that have a Nike-designed footbed and sole. They only give me 2 inches but so far so good.

5. My training this week has been light in the gym and at the track, but since I've got a road trip tomorrow with Adin I'm planning on doing the elliptical and the arm bike for cardio in the morning and about 30 minutes of core work.  Ann's got me scheduled to rest on Saturday and Kevin said I can swim as long as I'm in the pool to clear my head and find a good groove and not to cram in a cardio workout. 

6. Sunday morning I'll be up and moving around and eating breakfast by 5 am - a full 2 hours before the race start in Rockville. To warm up I've got a regimen of core activators (side planks)  and runners stretches and I roll like crazy. Kevin's got me rolling my quads, IT band, glutes, and shins as well as my calves, my upper back, and under my upper arms. I use a pinky ball on the bottoms and sides of my feet as well as on my pecs and hips (on the wall and on the floor respectively). For breakfast it's freshly squeezed OJ, coffee, a banana, and half a white bagel with a smear of peanut butter. That's a lot of food for me in the morning so I might need to skip the banana and bring it with me. I'm planning to try to get in 16 ounces of water.

For the race I'm packing 3 ziplock bags with 13 mini Swedish fish in each. I'll get my hydration from the water tables along the race route so I'll be happy to run without a fuel belt. I'll also pack lip gloss with sunscreen and maybe a cap.

So I'm officially hyped and ready to go - thank you for following !! If you've got tips, send them to me!!

See you next time!

 I know it's 90 degrees outside but my Cole Hahns with the Nike footbed and sole are my footwear of choice to work this week as prep for Sunday's Parks Half. 

I know it's 90 degrees outside but my Cole Hahns with the Nike footbed and sole are my footwear of choice to work this week as prep for Sunday's Parks Half. 

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I've noticed this sign for years but never paid attention. This year I'm thinking, Yeah man, I'm doin' that, my hometown race.