When you go to the expo to pickup your number at Boutwell, be careful if there is free food out there. You don't want to be loading up on Metamucil samples the day before the race! Tasting is fine, but keep it to a minimum.
Do not confuse "carbo-loading" with "carbo-stuffing". Don't wait till Saturday night and try to stuff a pound of Rigatoni into your gut. During the week this week, you should try to eat some healthy carbs (pasta, rice, veggies, you know the routine), and don't force feed. You're going to be cutting down your miles run so the body will have no trouble storing the "extra" carbs for fuel. Be sure to drink often during the week. I try to be sure to have a bottle of water on my desk all the time AND during race week, I you might want to try to drink at least one energy drink a day (gatorade or powerade, NOT RED BULL!!).
On the day before the race, lay out all your race clothes, pin on your race number, and if we have a race chip this year, tie it on your shoe so you don't forget it. The chip might be part of your race bib, so then it's one less thing to screw up!
Arrive at Boutwell Auditorium early. You're going to be nervous enough - why add to it by getting to the start late? The race starts at 7AM and parking can be a little tricky if you get there late.
Right now (like that carries a lot of weight) it looks like it might be pretty cool (mid 20's). "Cold" at the start might become "pretty doggone warm" by mile 20. WEAR LESS THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED. Now go back and read that last sentence again! OK, one more time...I'll wait. Wearing a 55 gallon garbage bag waiting at the start may be your best running gear purchase (sorry, Val). It's waterproof, it's windproof, BUT IT IS NOT BREATHABLE, so don't run too far in it. You can just rip it off at the start and be sure to toss it on the sidewalk, NOT on the course where some slightly aging runner (me) might trip over it! Dress in layers, so you can shed some clothes if needed. If it's cold, use HotHands in your gloves. They'll stay toasty warm for several hours. Also, a trick I've been using on the trails this year is that if you carry a water bottle, fill it with warm water at the start instead of cold!
Be sure to position yourself at the start based on your pace. If you're walking, don't get in the front, because you'll get run over by some guy trying to win the race in the first 50 yards. There shoud be pacing signs at the start so you have an idea where to begin. I think there will be pace groups up to 5 hours (about 11:30/mile). Now, these are for the full marathon, but the course is a two loop course, so you can do the math for the half marathon.
Before the race, be sure to try to learn the course so you have an idea what's up ahead. There are some hills on this course, but this is Birmingham and we're only going to worry about the things we can control. Knowing your opponent (the course) is the first step in winning (finishing).
Thank all the volunteers and Police out there. They don't get big bucks to keep you safe and happy, and they're there for a long time. And if it's cold, they're not running to stay warm.
Try to have a great time, and remember, when you cross the finish line, they will be taking your picture, so smile, hands up, and for goodness sake, DON'T BE HITTING YOUR WATCH - it makes a lousy 1st marathon finishing photo!
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