12 March 2012

City-Pier-City Race Review, Part One

I probably ran about as well as I could have yesterday at the City-Pier-City (CPC) Half-Marathon. If you recall, I wanted to run between 7:20 and 7:30 per mile for the first ten miles, find out what I had left during the final three miles, and negative split the course.  I accomplished this and a bit more.

You can see my overall results here: ABN AMRO CPC Loop Den Haag | Uitslag Richard Loeper-Viti.  In this post, I will review my pre-race activities, and tomorrow, I will write a review of the race itself.


The night before the race I ate barbecued spare ribs, Kamut whole-grain pasta, and some raw carrots.  I also had a piece of sponge cake with a layer of custard and a layer of creme in the middle and strawberries on top for dessert.  I did not snack before bed, even though I went to bed later than I usually do.

The race started at 2:30 in the afternoon, and since I had never run a race that started later than 10:00 in the morning, I didn't know exactly how to prepare for the afternoon start.  I decided to sleep in and made sure this would happen by going to bed at 1:00 in the morning.  I didn't wake up until 8:00.  For me, this is sleeping in, and seven hours of sleep is a solid amount, especially the night before a race.

Upon rising, I went through my normal morning routine.  I had coffee, used the bathroom, ate breakfast (mixed berries, one banana, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, and vanilla yogurt combined in one bowl), brushed my teeth, and got dressed.  After dressing, I prepped for the race by pinning my number to my singlet and getting out everything I would need to take with me.  I also cleaned up the kitchen, which was still messy from the night before.

The day was gorgeous--11 or 12 degrees Celsius (low to mid-50s Fahrenheit), a slight breeze, and barely a cloud in the sky.  Perfect racing weather.  Also perfect weather for getting the kids outside to play.  Unfortunately, my wife is on doctor-ordered bed rest until our third child comes, so, even though I should have been resting with my legs up, I had to take the kids outside to play. (It would have been abusive to keep them inside on a day like yesterday.)

I didn't want to tax my legs too much, so I took the girls to the duck pond to feed the ducks, rather than to a playground, where I would get caught up chasing them around.  At 11:00, and just before leaving with the kids, I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-wheat toast.  We stayed at the duck pond for about an hour.  Upon getting home, I prepared for departure.

I decided to wear a singlet with arm warmers and shorts, along with thin Injinji socks and Saucony Grid Type A5 shoes.  Over the singlet I would wear a ratty, old t-shirt that I could discard at the starting line.  Because I was biking to the start--a five mile trip, I would wear an ASICS long-sleeve, quarter-zip top and a light jacket over my singlet and t-shirt, as well as sweat pants over my shorts.  Before putting all this on, I decided to have another cup of coffee and make another trip to the bathroom.

The shorts I was wearing had three outside pockets.  One zippered pocket in the back, and two velcro pockets on the hips.  In each of the velcro pockets I put a gel (one Powerbar caffeinated black currant and one 2nd Surge caffeinated double espresso) and in the zippered pocket I put my cell phone--a necessary precaution considering my wife's condition.

After getting on my race kit and layers, I kissed my daughters and wife goodbye, got on my bike, and rode to meet a few friends with whom I would travel to the race.  I grew warm quite quickly and discarded my jacket.  We rode at a leisurely pace, and the bike ride took about 25 minutes.

The race was well organized and retrieving our t-shirts and checking our bags was easy. Unfortunately, I checked my bag before bandaging my nipples and removing my bandana, which I sometimes like to wear under my cycling helmet.  Luckily, a friend that I was with had two extra bandaids that he gave me, so I wouldn't have to worry about bloody nipples.  The bandana I ended up shoving into the back of my shorts.

I tried jogging a little as we walked to our starting pens, and I was worried that the weight of the cell phone and the bandana in my shorts would bother me.  I also realized that I wouldn't need my arm warmers, so I took those off and stored them with the bandana.  So, for the record, in my rather light running shorts, I have two gels, one cell phone, a pair of arm warmers, and a bandana. People passing must have thought that pre-race jitters had caused me to soil myself.  I was running with a full load.

Surprisingly, I had not had any pre-race nervousness.  If anything, after seven months of not racing, I was rearing to go, excited about what lay ahead, about the chance to see how far along I've come since having surgery.  I was also a little disappointed.  I was training through this race, but a part of me wished that I was in peak shape, that I could have faith in my ability to surge, to pass, and to kick.  All in all, though, I couldn't wait to test myself, and I tempered my frustration by remembering that this was merely a step toward Prague.  I focused on the bigger goal.

Other than the bike ride, I didn't warm-up much before this race.  I jogged around for about 30 seconds and did a few lunges after getting into the starting pen, but I usually like to jog a couple of miles and do a couple of race-pace pick-ups before racing.  I didn't have time for my usual routine, and I didn't worry too much about that.  I just assumed the bike ride would be enough.  

I had to stand in the starting pen for about ten minutes.  During this time, loud, upbeat Dutch pop music played and an MC above the crowd on some scaffolding urged runners to wave their arms and to sing along.  As the runners in front of me began to surge forward, I took off my t-shirt and tossed it to the side.  The sun felt warm on my arms as I shook them out and tilted my head from side to side like a boxer.  As I started and stopped my way toward the starting line, I put my right index finger on the start button of my Garmin 310xt and settled in for take off.

I would have liked to run without a cell phone in my back pocket and without arm warmers and a bandana in my shorts.  I would have also liked to remember to tape my nipples before putting on my singlet.  However, I will take pride in my ability to deal calmly with these minor difficulties.  But that's why we have minor races as part of our training for major races.  To practice what must be done, so that we do it right when it matters most.

As always, feel free to leave comments or questions, especially about my race preparations or yours.  I look forward to telling you about the race itself tomorrow.

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