Sometimes you can’t control everything, one of which is the weather. Sadly, the weather can win over all the hard work you put into training for a race. However, you can prevent the worst case scenario from occurring, which is not finishing a race because you didn’t prepare appropriately for certain weather conditions.
So what can you do to be prepared?
- If you are traveling, check the weather forecast before you leave your house so you can pack enough clothes and products (suntan lotion, body glide, etc.) for the forecasted weather.
- Prepared for the worst-case scenario (cold temperatures, hot temperatures, sunshine, wind, rain, snow, etc.). Remember: you can always take off layers to leave at the bag drop off or throw on the race course.
- Be flexible on race day!
- If the weather is not ideal, stay positive. Just keep running, think I am running for Boston!
This past weekend I ran the Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon. Leading up to race day (2 days prior before race day to the morning of race day), the weather forecast called for 50-80% rain before, during, and after the race. Basically, it was going to rain! I didn’t know how much it was going to rain so I had to be prepared for a sprinkle to raining cats and dogs!
What I did to prepare for the rain:
1. HAT: I wore a hat to prevent water constantly dripping in my eyes. I usually wear a hat anyways to block the sun, so I am used to running with a hat.
2. Long Sleeve T-Shirt: I wore a thin long sleeve t-shirt to wear over my tank top. I choice to wear a thin t-shirt because if it stopped raining, it could dry faster, but it also wouldn’t be too heavy if it got soaking wet either.
▪ If I didn’t want to wear the long t-shirt anymore, whether I got hot or cold (from being soaking wet), I personally don’t mind tying my long sleeve t-shirts around my waist for the rest of the race, but if you are a person who doesn’t like things around you waist, I would suggest wearing a shirt that isn’t your favorite shirt and leaving it on the course when you decide to take it off.
3. I made my typical pony tail into a braid.
▪ I would recommend people with long pony tails to either braid it or put it into a tight bun to keep to avoid water dripping down your back and your hair slapping your neck around the entire race.
4. I put extra Body Glide on my body to avoid blisters.
5. I packed extra clothes and a pair of socks to change into right after the race, assuming I would be cold and soaking wet.
I felt prepared! It was lightly raining on the drive to the race, but I had no clue what it would be like for the next 3-4 hours. I don’t think any my friends and I were fully prepared for POURING rain!
My Unexpected Pre-Race Adventure
Since I had enough time from landing in Nashville to the closing of the race expo, I was able to get my race bib before race day. Therefore, on the way to the race Saturday morning, we decided it would be best if I drop off the rest of the girls at the starting line to get their race bibs and I park the car at the finish line, where shuttles will take runners back to the starting line. The starting and finish line were at least 1+ miles apart and the last shuttle was at 6:00 am. I was bit frazzled because by the time I dropped off the girls, I only had 15 minute to park the car and make the last shuttle to get back to the starting line. Also, I had no clue where the finish line was! I didn’t do my research ahead of time, a big oopsies! Usually the starting and finish line aren’t far apart, but this race they happened to be, which was not in my favor as I dropped the girls off.
I made my way to the direction of the finish line. I asked a police officer where he would suggest I park and he said go towards 1st Avenue. I was approaching 2nd Avenue when I saw a few parking garages so I figured I would just park to try to make the last shuttle. As I parked the car, I starting thinking that it wasn’t a good sign that I didn’t see any other runners parking. I started to panic and made my way towards the parking garage exist.
Luckily, right before I exited the garage, I saw 2 runners by their car. I asked them how they were getting back to the starting line and they said they were taking a Local Nashville Bus at 6:15 am, which would take them very close to the starting line. There was no way we would make the last shuttle (at this point was as passed 6:00 am). I asked them if I could tag along. Runners are always nice and helpful so of course they said, “YES!”. I needed $2 cash for the bus and I couldn’t bring my bag of dry clothes because most likely I wasn’t going to have enough time to bag drop off my bag. Fortunately, I always bring $20 cash with me on race days (just in case I need to stop during the race or buy anything after the race). However, the bus doesn’t give cash back, so I would get a $18 bus ticket in return instead, which I would most likely never use again. At this point I didn’t care if lost $18. I asked the 2 runners to give me their money and I would buy 3 tickets to cut my money lose to $14 instead $18. I already had on my water belt and race bib on so I just grabbed my pre-race UCAN Generation beverage to drink on the bus and my iphone with earphones from my bag. The bus stop was 2 blocks away from the parking garage (happened to be the court-house parking lot). At this point, I still had no clue where that parking lot was in relation to the finish line.
We go on the bus a little passed 6:15 am, surrounded by the Nashville locals. The bus driver made sure she got us as close to the starting line as possible. I very nice city bus driver! I drank my UCAN on the bus (about 30 minutes before the race, which is ideal timing). We got dropped off at 6:45am.
I had 15 minutes until the start of the race to go the bathroom. I thanked the runners, who got me this far and ran to the starting line. Even before I got on the bus, I came to terms that I may not start with my assigned corral (2). Every porta potty had lines of 30+ people with only 10 minutes until the start of the race. I realized I might be starting at corral 10 or maybe even 20 instead of 2. After standing in line for 5 minutes (now only 5 minutes until the start of the race), I was thinking about how to improve this situation and assess what was important to me because my line was not moving and the rain was picking up!
What was important to me?
- Not getting too cold before the race to the point of shivering. I anticipated the porta potty line was at least 20+ min long and I would be waiting in the rain not moving the entire time. Plus, I had no clue if the porta potties had any toilet paper left (I forgot to bring my own)! Ek!
- I knew I wasn’t going to PR (faster than 1:39), but I wanted to go under 1:50.
- It was going to be rainy and cold the entire race. I needed to stay positive and run with people who could push me, which would meant running in my assigned corral near the 1:45 pacers.
I found my answer!
I ran to corral 2 as the national anthem was playing. I told myself I was going to stop at the first row of porta potties I see on the course, no exceptions (I knew they would be stocked with toilet paper too!). At this point, I was willing to sacrificing 1-2 minutes added to my race time to avoid any more pain and discomfort beyond the fact that I was going to run 13.1 miles race pace and it was going to rain the entire time.
My quick preventative plan worked out better than I expected!
I even had enough time to listen to 10 minutes of pump-up music before my corral was sent off. It was really starting rain, but I was glad I was running and not standing in line for the porta potty! At about 1.5 miles, I stopped to tie my shoelace (to prevent tripping) and found a row of porta potties. I tried to make the transition quick. It took about 1 minute. I did what I needed to do and I was off. I only wish I hand sanitizer, but hey, the rain would eventually wash everything away, right?
I got back into my running groove and ended up running with the 1:45 pace group. I cruised for the rest of the race playing tag with the 1:45 pace runners. My long sleeve t-shirt got soaked after a few miles, but I didn’t even think about being cold until the last 2 miles during the race so I decided to keep it on. My shoes and socks were drenched, but I made it to the finish line strong and did better than I anticipated! 1:43:02! Not bad for a pre-race adventure, bathroom stop, and pouring rain! As I got my medal and walked slowly through the race exist passed all the liquid and beverage tents, I took a moment to think about what had happened the past 3 hour!
What did I learned from this crazy morning?
Think about what is important to you and your health. Prevent the worst-case scenario from occurring. Just keep running. Everyone is running the same race you are! Push each other to conquer the weather conditions!
What I would have done differently?
- Run in a light rain jacket to keep my clothes dry underneath.
- Put all my electronics (phone/ipod) in a plastic bag to keep them from getting any water damage.
- Bring some toilet paper for emergencies and a small bottle or sample size of sanitizer.
On top of all the unplanned conditions that occurred before and during this race, I decided to strictly use UCAN Generation for my race fuel because I am highly considering drinking UCAN as my main fuel for my Half Ironman training in a few months. I have used UCAN before long runs and races before so I know it doesn’t upset my stomach, but I have never strictly used UCAN without using GU gels or other products before and during my runs. This race I drank a chocolate UCAN 30 minutes before the race on the bus (approx 16 ounces of water) and I sipped on another chocolate UCAN between miles 7-11, which I mixed in one of my 10 ounce water bottles on my water belt. In addition to the UCAN, I sipped on 10 ounces of water with one NUUN tablet replace my electrolytes because I am a heavy sweater. Also, I took 4-5 cups of water from the water stations. My energy level never dropped the entire race. I even negative spit my race and finished strong. I told myself on the last two miles that I had nothing to lose. I was starting to get a bit cold and I knew I had a little bit more in me. If you don’t hurt at the finish line, you didn’t push yourself hard enough. I picked up the pace and blew by the 1:45 pace runners! My last mile was my fasted mile of the race leaving my thighs to feel like rocks!
For recovery, I finished the rest of my chocolate UCAN in my water bottle and grabbed a chocolate milk, banana, and water as I made my way to the race exit.
Luckily, I found one of my friends as I was exiting the race and we waited for the other girls to finish. At this point it was raining very hard. We were starting to get really cold. We were given foil blankets to keep us warm, but we were still very wet. After 20-30 minutes, we found the other girls and walk to the car. There was a lot of chatter about the craziness we just experienced. We were wet, cold, and shivering! The car ended up being a 15 minute walk away, but it only cost $3 and we were able to get to our hotel without intersecting with the race and road blockages.
Final Thoughts & Smiles
All in all, the race could not have gone better: my pre-race adventure, bathroom plan, clothing choices, UCAN fuel trial, final race time, and meeting up with my friends after the race. I give a big THANK YOU to the 2 runners I met in the parking garbage, who got me to the starting line with just enough time that I was able to make good decisions to prevent the worst case scenario from happening. All of my friends did amazing and a few even got their personal best times! No one got injured or sick! And of course, we were still smiling! We experienced a race we would never ever forget!
We were so happy to back at our hotel! After hot showers, putting on warm clothes, eating more food, popping a few ibuprofen, stretch out the hips/glutes, and taking an hour power nap, we were all ready to celebrate a night out in Nashville! We danced the night way in our cowgirl boots and ignored our screaming sore legs!
Today marked 2 weeks after the Boston Marathon Bombing. I have kept track of my running miles in honor of Boston inspired by Runners United to Remember! I ran 46 mile (of which 26.2 miles were competed in the first week). Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the city of Boston and all the Boston runners, spectators, and supporters.
Thanks for reading another one of my unforgettable races! 🙂