This weekend is a big race weekend - and not just because I'm headed to Wisconsin for my goal race.
My BFF, in all her fabulous glory, is running her first half marathon on Sunday, and I couldn't be more excited or proud. Once daunted by the work of training for a 13.1, she committed herself to training and tackled each and every run on the plan. She made her life and the schedule work and is more than prepared to take on the race.
Physically, at least.
Even though she knows she did the work, put the hay in the proverbial barn, I know she's excited, antsy and maybe a smidge nervous. And so I thought I'd offer three tips to her and other first-timers tackling the half marathon.
1. It's OK to walk through water stops. Actually, it's more than OK - DO IT. It's important to give yourself time to properly take in fluids and collect yourself before tackling the next section of the course. There's nothing worse than trying to drink from a cup mid-stride and ending up with water in your nose. Detour: It's tempting to skip water stops early on. Don't.
2. Fuel like you trained. Your stomach might feel different on race day than it had on your 10-miler through familiar territory, and that gel might not sound so appetizing. Unless you are going to wretch, take it as planned. Your body needs the carbohydrates, calories and electrolytes and getting behind on nutrition could haunt you later.
3. Soak it in. Look at the sites along the course and the runners beside you. Enjoy what the day has to offer you. The entire course might seem overwhelming but when you look at it in chunks, block by block, it's manageable and even enjoyable.
And that's what you want to do. Enjoy it - the race, the accomplishment and seeing the hard work come to fruition with a shiny new medal. You earned it.
What advice (or encouragement) can you give to a first-time half-marathoner?