COLUMN: Getting full enjoyment out of the Half
AS YOU GET ready for the Historic Half this weekend, here is some advice to get you to the finish line.
Plan ahead. Pack your race bag and supplies during the day. Don’t wait until tonight—you’ll stress about forgetting something and won’t have a chance to find it when stores are closed.
Figure out the logistics. Plan where your friends and family will be watching and who will park the car so you can concentrate on the race Sunday morning.
Focus on you. Be a little selfish. Get to the Expo Center early and relax. Think about your race and how ready you are for it!
Dress lightly. If it is cool in the morning, wear an old sweatshirt and sweatpants that you can throw away when the race starts. Your body might get cold waiting for the gun to go off, but you won’t need those extra layers on the course with temperatures in the mid-60s. Seriously, do NOT overdress. If you do, you’ll sweat more and risk dehydration.
Warm up. You don’t have to run any extra miles, but do some speed walking or a walk–jog (3 minutes run/1 minute walk) for 5–10 minutes before you get into the starting corral just to loosen up your muscles. Do a few light stretches afterwards and stay relaxed before the gun goes off.
Enjoy the starting line atmosphere. These races are designed to entertain you, trying to get you hooked. You’ve trained hard and you should take in the scene as much as you can before the real fun begins!
Relax. You’re likely surrounded by a couple thousand fellow runners and feeling a little claustrophobic. Don’t get too excited or uncomfortable and try to sprint your way to safety! You’ll have plenty of room later when those runners are spread out. The crowds will be cheering as you get through that first mile in Central Park, so just relax, smile and wave.
Go slow. Once you leave Central Park, you’ve got some downhill running to enjoy. But be careful about going too fast! Even if it feels easy to run faster than you planned, your body is still running that quick mile and it might not be ready to. Stick with your pace plan each mile and remember that for every mile you run downhill, you’ve got to run back uphill at the end of the race.
Drink. Take water at every stop! Hopefully you’ve practiced drinking water on your runs, but if not, do what feels comfortable at the stops—jog, walk or stop. Just watch out for the other runners grabbing at cups. And drink the water; don’t just dump it on your head. When the temperature rises on you in the last 6 miles of the race, you’ll be glad you started drinking water at miles 1 and 2.
Have fun and enjoy the course! Fredericksburg is a beautiful city and the Historic Half gives you a great tour of the town. Take it all in! Don’t worry too much about the hills; they might seem long but they’re broken up between the hospital and Cowan. Once you hit mile 12, it is smooth sailing into that finish line. Soak it all up! You’ve earned it!
Originally from Fredericksburg, Bert Jacoby has finished 23 half-marathons and 12 marathons, with best times of 70:51 and 2:26:31. While working in Fredericksburg as a teacher, Bert competed in numerous FARC Grand Prix races and four Historic Half Marathons and won it last year. Bert currently lives in Charlottesville with his wife and is pursuing his doctorate at the University of Virginia.