DLR Half Countdown: Post #1: Keeping Calm

The countdown has begun to the Disneyland Half Marathon (Dumbo Double Dare Challenge for my wife and I) and things are starting to get real. By now, you should be high up on your mileage and the rest period is coming up (for a half, I tend not to taper, but will take 2 days off before the 10k).

25 Days and Counting!
In the coming weeks to the race, I'll be posting specifics for Disney destination races: what to pack, what to carry on, pre-race food from hotel amenities, etc. But, today's post is a little backwards as it's all about that last minute before the fireworks go off; you're in the corral and your emotions are at the end of the ultramarathon they have been running since you first booked the race.

If this is your first race, you'll notice it's pretty quiet in the corrals. I have found the higher the corral, quieter the corral (sometime I'm going to take a few corrals back and enjoy the party). This point before the is really the reflection time where you ask yourself, "Did I train enough? I trained enough. Well, did I? Yes, I almost surely did. Yeah, I'm gonna be fine. Ohhh, this is gonna be bad. No, I'm good......" Believe me, you will go through this a few times, it's natural. The other dilemma of sitting in a corral for too long is the inadvertent ability to compare yourself against other runners. Again, we all do it and it's natural to wonder how you stack up against the group. I used to fall victim to this all the time and got so psyched out, I started out way too fast and ended up crashing early into the race.

But, I found a few solutions that have worked for me to keep me in check and save my energy for the course:
1) I close my eyes and picture the race course. Before each race, I study the map and know how many turns there are and then plot where I'm going to speed up or relax a bit. Waiting in the corral is a perfect time to run through your strategy one more time.

2) Get my mind set. I know when the gun goes off, inevitably there will be those runners who make the poor decision of going out "mad dash" style. I have to shake myself of those guys or I will not succeed, so I remind myself to run my own race. I always get those guys at the end so let them get it out now.

3) Arrange pre-race music. Along with my iPhone, I carry an iPod shuffle that has a mix mostly of relaxing, chill out music to keep me calm and not get sucked up into the hoopla. I listen to that for about 20 minutes and then with about 5 minutes to go, I put on some more uplifting music. Some key tracks that do the job:

Chill/Relax tracks:
 - Appalachian Morning - Aaron Copland
 - Let You Down - Dave Matthews Band
 - My Weakness - Moby
 - The Journey Home Orca - From "Ace Combat 5"
 - Speak to Me/Breathe - Pink Floyd

Pump Up tracks:
 - Right Here, Right Now - Fatboy Slim
 - You Can Do It - No Doubt
 - Right Now - Van Halen

4) Just have fun. Hey, you're not going to come in first and you're not going to come in last, so enjoy the race and have a good time!

Next post I'll talk about what to bring on your trip.