Today is race day.
For any runner, new or experienced, young or old, fast or slow, race day is a special day. It doesn't matter what kind of race it is, how serious a runner is approaching the race, what the goal may be, a race day is special.
For me, today is no different. For as odd of a race as tonight's may be, it is still a race day and I am excited for the race tonight. Tonight I will be competing in the Treadmill 1 Mile World Championships at Gear West Ski & Run in Long Lake, MN. It is my first ever treadmill race so it will be interesting to say the least. I'm not a big fan of running on treadmills but I'm excited to race and try to go fast.
I thought I would share some of what I like to do on the day of a race to prepare myself for the event, regardless of how big or small the race may be. Most of my races take place on the weekends in the morning hours so typically I wake up fairly early. Usually I have a hard time sleeping the night before just because my mind is wandering as I think about the race. The first thing I do when I get up is take a nice hot shower, not to get clean (although I do) but to warm my muscles up right away. The hot water wakes all my muscle fibers up and gets them alert for what is about to happen. Next, I eat my usual breakfast of oatmeal and yogurt. I'll have water and a little bit of Gatorade to drink.
At this point, I'll make sure my bag is packed for the race and I'll head out to the car to drive to the race. While driving, I listen to very specific music, mostly Christian rock, stuff that gets me pumped up and focused for the race. Listening to bands like Switchfoot, Hawk Nelson, Anthem Lights, and some worship music gets me thinking about why I run (see the "Running for Joy" post) and how I can honor God with what I do.
When I arrive at the race event, I get my race number, shirt, etc. from the volunteers, return to my car to put my number on my jersey and then with about 45 minutes until the race I get out for a 2-3 mile warm-up run. From this point on, I prefer to be mostly on my own (if I'm not already) unless I'm competing with a team, just so I can be mentally preparing for the race ahead.
Each race is different so it's never quite the same routine. Today is very different as the race isn't until almost 6:00pm tonight. I worked all day today and won't be going home before the race. My eating patterns will be different, so today should be interesting.
Runners, as most athletes are, are creatures of habit. We like consistency. Today will be one of those odd race days for me. A few years ago, this would have scared me with the day being so different. Today, I embrace it.
However, there is one race day routine that I don't ever intend to change and it is reading one of my favorite lines of scripture prior to each race. It gets me in the right mindset entering the race. Here it is:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin."
- Hebrews 12:1-4
It gives great symbolism of a race and also provides a glimpse into the hope that Jesus gives each of us who put our trust in Him.
I will post this weekend at some point with results of the race tonight!