THE “NIGHT BEFORE” GEAR PREP
Tomorrow is my first race of 2014, the New Year’s half marathon in LA. That means tonight I get to go through my “night before race day” gear preparation. To non-runners who witness this ritual, it must seem like I’m experiencing an OCD episode combined with demonic possession. But to those of us who regularly run, the race prep is a sacred rite and part of the whole race experience.
Like the baseball players who don’t shave their beards during the playoffs or the football fans who refuse to wash their lucky jersey during a win streak (yuck), runners have their own superstitions or specific way of doing things that needs to be embraced… or at least tolerated.
Once I’ve returned from the expo with my bag o’ swag, the ceremony can officially commence. A space must first be chosen for me to lay out my gear… a running altar, if you will. For me this usually means the kitchen table. Yup, I’ll be eating dinner (aka carbo loading) on the coffee table tonight.
Next, I check the weather for the billionth time that day to see the expected temperature before, during and after the race. Weather appropriate gear must be chosen from our race wardrobe. Yes, I said wardrobe, as veteran runners’ attire tends to be comprised of a disproportionate amount of sports clothing. Gotta look good while we sweat, right?
For me, it must be a color-coordinated outfit, but not one I’ve worn to another race recently. And certainly not the shirts I typically wear on training runs (heaven forbid)… the right shirt that perfectly compliments the shorts and topped off with a proper cap. Even the color of my running socks is taken into account. The only thing that never ever changes is the running shoes. When one pair wears out, I buy a duplicate replacement (if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it).
I stand in front of the mirror, put on the outfit and affix the running bib (don’t forget to fill out the emergency info on the back first). I highly advise doing this the night before because trying to put on a bib just before a race can be an exercise in futility almost certainly guaranteeing a cockeyed number. Once the bib is attached, the entire outfit must then be placed on the table (I mean altar) like a uniform being laid out for military inspection. The only way this could be weirder would be if I dressed up a mannequin in the outfit… hmmm, that gives me an idea.
Next is the gathering all of the accessories (making sure they’re charged first)… Garmin GPS, iPod Shuffle complete with new music mix, motivational wristband. I place these items in their own Ziploc plastic bag for easy retrieval. And they go on the table next to the outfit. Scary, huh?
Then like Batman, my utility belt (okay, it’s my fuel belt) must be prepped for battle. GU Chomps (peach flavored) in one pouch and salt packets (in a small Ziplock bag) go next to it. Water bottles are filled and left to chill overnight in the fridge. My other small pouch is for the travel necessities (car key, ID and emergency cash, etc).
Since knowledge is power, all relevant information must be present too… printouts of directions to parking and the starting line, course map/elevation to obsess over and any other vital race intelligence.
And of course some races demand an additional prep bag, things that may be needed… just in case-ities (rain poncho, throwaway gloves, hand warmers, Mylar blanket or items for after the race to be checked in a gear bag).
Finally I check the items to make sure they’re all present and accounted for. And then I re-check. And then check again in case the gremlins stole an item when I wasn’t watching.
And with that, the race gear prep ceremony comes to an end. I can finally sit down and try and relax for the rest of the evening.
Or I can go check the gear again.
(Tell me about your “night before race day” gear prep ritual… anything crazy or superstitious that you do the night before a race)