Halfin’ It

Ten things you need to know about the next biggest 13.1 miles of your life

‘Tis the season for spandex, electrolytes, and petroleum jelly: while this sounds like a fun Saturday night to some, the combination of those three items gives me a small panic attack because it all adds up to one intimidating event: RACE DAY. The Capital City Half Marathon is just around the corner, down the block 8 miles, and around another 5.1-mile corner. To push you through your final stretch of intense and organized training (or to get you started on your training, you silly loaf!), here are some tips from a seasoned half marathon veteran.

Take care of yourself. There are a million blogs/training schedules that you can obsess over when training. Find what works for you, and don’t forget to take care of your muscles. A basic strength training program or a yoga class can really prep your body for a long haul like 13.1. Make sure you supplement your long runs with plenty of stretching, or you will be cruising for a mid-training injury that may prevent you from running on race day.

Get a comfortable outfit that can last 13.1. As you get into your long runs in training, you will be amazed at what starts to chafe at 8 miles that didn’t at 5.

Get that playlist PREPPED! My name is Brooke Cartus, and I had an iPod die during the 2012 Columbus Half. It was an actual nightmare. Make sure you have your tech prepped- whether that’s a fancy watch that tells you your heart rate and mother’s maiden name every mile, or your exceptional playlist. It’s amazing what that can do for your peace of mind when prepping. If you are looking for a hot tip in a finish line song, I always listen (no matter what time of year) to Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You. It always leads to a victorious finish, and I highly recommend it.

Put that phone on airplane mode. If possible, leave your phone at home, or have a friend hold onto it at the finish line for you.The first time I put my phone on airplane mode during a race, it was glorious. My music was all downloaded, and I could run without technological interruption. Totally zen: just me, thousands of participants and spectators, and a show tunes playlist. Glorious. Race day is for you: all the good luck texts and “how many miles you have left?” texts (which I have actually received) can wait. Enjoy the run- you’ve earned it.

Go where everyone knows your name… on your race bib. The first half marathon I ran in Columbus, I was so honored! So many spectators knew my name. Men, women, and children were shouting, “You go, Brooke!” or “Brooke, you’re almost there!” Wow. It feels amazing to be so famous. Then I looked down at my race bib…. And there it was, in giant letters: BROOKE. Put a name on your bib and wear it in the front so that spectators can personally encourage you, and you can also feel like a celebrity. No autographs, please: I may throw up from exhaustion if I stop moving.

STOP AT EVERY SNACK. I judge a race purely by the caliber of its roadside snacks, and the Capital City Half never disappoints. Orange slices and Gatorade abound! And you need the electrolytes. With rare exception, none of us are pushing our bodies to these limits on a standard weekend. Take advantage of every water and snack break. If nothing else, you can thank the volunteers for their time and dole out a couple of high-fives. And who doesn’t love that?

Tell your friends. Your social circle likely already knows about your training—you have probably bailed on a few brunches and game nights to squeeze in your runs and even more likely, naps. Race day is always more fun with friends and family waiting for you at the finish, ready to carry you to your favorite lunch spot. Give them a range of when you will likely cross the finish based on your training time, and have them meet you with spiked coffee in hand.

You do you, boo. My first Cap City Half, I paced myself about 50 feet behind a woman at Mile Nine. We finished close together, and as we stuffed bananas in our mouths, I noticed something when I finally saw her from the front: she was very pregnant, with a t-shirt that said, “Baby’s first half.” So, if you want to be technical about it, a fetus beat my time. And I celebrated that. We are all at different fitness levels and we all have different goals. Don’t worry about who is passing you! It’s all about finishing and getting that sweet participant medal that will gather dust next to your cigar box in your home office. Find what makes you want to keep running, and focus on that. Personally, I run for bagels. Find your bagel.

Don’t put a 13.1 sticker on your car. We get it, you’re super fit. Just leave it on the fridge as a reminder for when you go for ice cream next time that you ran a half marathon, and you DESERVE ice cream, dammit. Treat yourself.

Plan a post-run treat. Sure, you don’t need extra motivation. You already crushed this race! But planning something nice for yourself afterward can really motivate you to push that little bit more: pre-schedule a massage the following week, or take a half day from work if you can. It doesn’t have to be expensive—maybe it’s just a croissant and coffee from your favorite local bakery. (If you follow my writing, you know my passion for almond croissants. So you know what my treat is.) The bottom line is, you accomplished something great. You really are amazing. Also… are you going to finish that croissant?

Brooke Cartus is a comedian, attorney, ordained minster, and sometimes (614) contributor. She runs a little bit more than she writes, but you can hear more of her thoughts at brookecartus.com.