Darkness still reigns over the early morning hour. The sun’s return may be a long way away. Yet I am awake. Religiously committed if not psychiatrically so to my race day ritual.
Peering out the window I attempt to divine the elements while consulting the weather on the web. Wind gusts. Humidity. Rain. All will factor into my final race strategy. Do I take advantage of a tail-wind on the first half of the course? Will the temperature affect my wardrobe decision? In the midst of all this I will also be consuming a litre of water and eating bagels, bananas, peanut butter, and cereal. Nothing that I haven’t consumed in training and nothing consumed at all within 2 hours of the race start — the better to avoid any bathroom emergencies. I’ve trained too hard to finish in the fastest time I can. To sacrifice precious moments to Nature’s beckoning due to poor dietary planning is inexcusable now.
I read inspiring stories of runners like me who are daring to challenge their limitations and are succeeding. The award winning documentary Spirit of The Marathon plays in the background. In my mind I become one of those runners. Often, and I’m not sure why, I pick Olympic bronze medallist Deena Kastor. My running mate James picks first-time marathoner Lori. We’re both men but we adore these women and what they represent.
I check my watch and change into my race kit. Emergency contact info is written on the back of my race bib. The timing chip, if not already on the bib is fastened meticulously to my running shoe. A quick kiss goodbye. A hug for good luck. And it is time to leave. I aim to be at the race with at least an hour to go. This is no time for stress. I want to be at the race and ready to go. Not stuck in traffic and wasting precious energy in a panic.
In the remaining hour I will check my bag, line up for the bathroom, and continue to mentally prepare for the task at hand.
When it is time, I will line up for the start. I quickly down a Cliff Shot energy gel and another 500 mL of water 10 minutes before the gun goes off. Those final minutes before the start will exhaust some of my fuel, the top up just before the start is an absolute must. I ready my watch. Bounce on the spot. And say a quick prayer of thanks. As the tension mounts the culmination of all my efforts arrives. The gun fires.
It is time.