Ready, Set…

One of my many favorite things about races is people watching before the start. I love to get to a race a bit early so I can walk around and watch everyone go through their own pre-race routines.

Confession: I have one pre-race routine, and one only. It all centers around the ladies room (or porta-potty, if it’s that kind of a race). Not so much with 5K’s, but at longer races, I am obsessed with making sure all of my earlier hydration is taken care of before the race begins. I have had to stop at porta-potties along the course before, and it ain’t fun. Nothing like waiting in a line for a dirty porta-potty at mile 9. So, my own pre-race warm-up (obsession) centers around finding the bathroom with the shortest line. I’m like a Black Friday shopper looking for a bargain when it comes to scoping out the “best” bathroom situation. If there is a long line at all of them, I have been known to get right back in line right after using the bathroom just in case. (side note: Colby and I found a bathroom at the Danbury Half that no one else seemed to know about- there was never a line of more than 2 people! It was our first big score of the day, and really set the tone for what turned out to be a great race for both of us. We felt like winners before we ever got to the starting line.)

Other people have far more interesting pre-race routines, though, and when I’m not checking out bathroom lines, I’m checking out the warm-ups.

1. Eastern Fusion. Colby and I watched a guy on Sunday do what looked to be a short round of tai chi, followed by a few sun salutations. In the middle of the gym where people were lining up to get their bibs. His last sun salutation came close to taking out another runner. Personally, I’m amazed that it is possible for someone to get into that zone in a smelly crowded gym. But maybe that is just because I suck at yoga.

2. High Steppers. Outside, I always see lots of people running back and forth doing high knees. I’m not sure what this does. I keep meaning to check my Kara Goucher book, but always forget by the time I get back from the race. And right now, I’m too busy enjoying my coffee to check. And I wouldn’t do it anyway (too busy with the bathroom), so I’d rather not know how much it would help my performance. I will note that the people who do this look pretty fierce, so it must do something good.

3. Pre-Race Runners. I also always see a lot of people running before a race, which is interesting to me. I guess for a 5K, a warm-up run might work the kinks out before the start, although, unless you time your warm-up run to end right before the start, I wonder if sitting around afterward lets all the kinks settle back in? Anyway, I’m really fascinated by people who run before a longer race, like a half. I love long runs, but I generally find the 13.1 of the race itself to be enough for the day.

4. Massage Clients. Lots of races have massage therapists on site who will provide free massages to runners. And lots of people take them up on their offers – before the race. When I see someone get massaged before the race, I see someone who I would never allow to be my white-water rafting guide. Or my money manager. These are the risk takers. I am always too afraid to get the free massages – what if they mess me up? Not because they are bad therapists, but because it just happens sometimes. Nonetheless, there are always people lining up to roll the dice for the pre-race massages.  Fascinating.  And daring.

5. Barefoot Runners. OK, I should really say Barefoot Runner (singular) because there is only one in our neck of the woods. And there’s no pre-race routine, here, I’m just fascinated by his feet. There is this one guy who runs barefoot – not minimalist – barefoot – in all of the crazy weather conditions CT throws at us. And on pavement. I made a mental note to see if I could check his soles for burn assessment after the Fairfield Half last June, but I was too heat stroke’d to care by the time I finished. I wouldn’t be shocked to see horseshoes on the bottom of his feet.

6. Drinkers. Many of the 5K races we run start and end at bars (perhaps this is why Colby and I have never been asked to join any elite running teams). And I see lots of people getting their drink on before these races. Color me impressed. Anyone who has been drinking with me before knows that I have the tolerance of a 90-year old teetotaler and can barely drink after a race (sadly, I rarely let this unfortunate fact stop me), let alone before. I take my hat off to you, pre-race drinkers!

I have to say, just watching and listening to all the people before the race on Sunday got me very excited that race season 2013 has fully begun.  Even when the race itself doesn’t go the way I want, the people watching never disappoints!

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