Tomorrow I’m running the Hartford Half Marathon. It’s my 5th Hartford Half Marathon. I ran in 1994, 2003, 2007, 2013 and now 2015! I’ve run nearly 25 half marathons, 9 full marathons and countless other 5k, 10k, 10 milers, not to mention sprint, Olympic, half iron distance and one full iron distance triathlon. This is all to say that tomorrow’s race was not a “bucket” list race for me. It was a “It’s a local-race, easy-to-get-to, fun-to-see-friends-on-the-course” race. No big deal…for me.
So why I am stressing so much about what to wear? Perhaps it’s because I’ve been racing for so long, I figured I don’t have to worry about finishing. The weather is always iffy and I hate being too cold or too hot. I wanted this race to be “just right.” While I’m not sure of the reason, I do know that I became obsessed with figuring out the perfect outfit for this race day.
I decided to go about this very systematically. Since, I ran a half marathon in April in Cheshire, I went to go the website where they post your finishing photos. I found one of my finishing photos and made a note of what I wore and tried to remember anything about how I felt. I also noted the temperature, which was in my Garmin Connect account. Garmin Connect is where I post all of my workouts and race results with comments to and from my coach. Since it’s all the data from my Garmin watch, the temperature is noted. I have a pretty good memory for race details, but I don’t think I’d remember the exact temperature. Pretty useful, right? Since the temperature was pretty identical in April to the projected weather for tomorrow’s race, I decided to go with that exact outfit with two changes.
The first change was that I will not wear the Flip Belt that I wore to hold my nutrition. I remember it riding up my torso a lot during the run and I found it irritating. Instead I put my gels in the 3 back pockets of my Desoto Forza Tri Jersey and kept my Clif Shot blocks in my SpiBand . I didn’t carry any water as I knew there would be enough water on the course.
The other change I made was quite monumental. For the last 25 years, I have been training and racing with a heart rate monitor. While the brand of monitor has ranged from Polar to Timex to Blink to currently Garmin, the purpose has remained the same, to track my heart rate and stay in a specific zone or zones to finish strong. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been remiss in wearing my heart rate monitor strap. But for this race, I didn’t want any chafing or slipping of the strap to distract me. I was certain that I can could keep my heart rate steady by sticking to a certain pace. I would rely on my 20+ years of training and knowledge of my perceived exertion to keep me on track. I spent some time contemplating about this decision, but ultimately decided to trust my gut and go “strap-free.”
The night before the race, I laid out my outfit, put my nutrition in a bag, prepared my post-race recovery drink and went to sleep with the confident knowledge that I had made some good decisions. The rest was up to my legs and heart to keep me moving forward.
The humor is not lost on me that I don’t spend this kind of time focusing on what I wear to a black tie wedding or fundraising dinner or that I have more wetsuits hanging in my closet than formal gowns or fancy dresses. And if you look at my closet, you will definitely see where my priorities are.
Race day went off without a hitch. I was dressed perfectly. My fueling and hydration was perfect. The weather was glorious and even though it was a struggle to cross the finish line in under 1:52 minutes (just barely), I did it! Other than the normal aches of running 13.1 miles, nothing hurt. I credit my careful and thoughtful preparation. Next race I can just check my Garmin Connect account and feel confident in my apparel decisions.