Because when you're done with the race it will feel like this to go up them:
Ow ow ow ow ow.
And this to go down them:
Ow ow ow ow ow.
Text your support network before you start.
Remind your friends and fam that you're doing something awesome!! and ask them to send you silly texts while you're on the course.
Keep the runners in your life close to you on race day.
If you have a certain special runner in your life who can't be there with you on race day, consider calling him or her just before you finish and "running in with them" via phone. It will mean a lot to them. You could even Face Time with them, but, uh, don't trip.
Today I wore my bestie Michelle's old tank top, and it felt good to have her and her running spirit (chick is a QUICK! marathoner!) near.
When training, try not to skip your long workouts.
You don't have to be an Olympian, but the more you "put the miles on your legs," the more enjoyable race day will be for you. You'll have more confidence and will be able to relax better.
Consider doing a Mom & Pop race.
Races that only have several hundreds -- as opposed to several thousands -- of registered participants have their advantages (this said, if I ever do a full marathon, I'm signing up for a BIG race, to feed off the adrenaline of all the spectators cheering me on. Yes, me specifically. When I run the Chicago, all the spectators will be cheering me on.).
Small organizational runs tend to be cheap, not crowded, and more chill. Several times today I found myself alone on the course, and it was kind of nice not to be mentally influenced by the pace of someone around me. And I paid, I believe, less than $35 for this race. And if you're into supporting local business, just view this as another opportunity to do so.
If you're running solo, plant someone at the finish line.
It just makes you feel good. So if someone can't be there during the whole race, just ask them to snap a pic of you at the end (and then take you to lunch).
Remember that you will race like you train.
When I did my first half marathon, I did all my training at a jogging pace, no walking. Come race day, I did the same. This time around, I did a lot of elliptical work and treadmill jogging/walking. During the race I jogged, walked, jogged, walked for the duration.
So however you want to perform on race day, mimic that goal in your training.
Make your goal to finish.
This one speaks for itself. You really are a winner just for finishing. Especially if you're following the Daily Bailey's noncompetitive guide to half marathoning. ;)
Take the time to make a killer playlist.
Might I recommend "swell songs." This means two things:
Songs that are swell. Songs that put a smile on your face, period. Put those on the list.
Songs that swell. Anything that builds. Pumps you up. Tugs at your (happy) emotions. Get it. Put that energy on the list.
Invest in a FuelBelt.
Or have your friend Michelle mail you hers. But get one. Carry your phone, water, GU, energy chews, motivational Bible verses, a tampon. Whatever you can fit. But don't carry that stuff. Belt it.
By this I mean: Buy beer the day before. Your legs will thank you that you don't have to walk through the grocery store post-race. And believe me, the rest of you will thank you for stocking the fridge with a 6-pack.
Make friends with your pacers.
Who are your pacers? Oh you'll find out.
Of course there are official pacers, who either lead a pack to meet a certain finishing time, or a running pal who jumps in the race with you to keep time and encourage you.
But if you're like me, and you run alone, your unofficial pacers are the people in your race who you keep catching up with. Today there was a father-daughter team who approached me to chat once we had all realized we kept ending up near each other on the track. We had a nice little get to know you session, encouraged each other throughout the morning, and then actually ran across the finish together.
Accept high fives, and encourage your fellow racers.
Because the world needs all the good juju it can get. So spread the running love.
Unless you're gasping for air, throw out the occasional "great job" to those going after the same goal you are. Because you, of all people, know how valuable it is to be encouraged when you're pounding the pavement for 13 miles.
13.1. Excuse me.
And finally, remember not to pants your poop!