Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Las Vegas Taught Me - How to Run a Race at Night

Have you checked out my Everstride Sweepstakes here (Terms and Conditions here)?

I am a morning runner.  I do not drink coffee or have any other type of caffeine (unless, of course, it comes inside a gel like substance we runners call "Gu").  I do not need these drinks because I have running or any other type of cardiovascular workout for that matter.  I get up in the morning and I jump out of bed (well, sometimes it is more like reluctantly pull myself out of bed) because I know it is time for my morning run.  It is these runs that wake up, that get me charged for the day, that make it unnecessary for me to have caffeine.  I never ever work out at night.  Night is for more important things like Glee and blogging, seriously people.

When I saw the chance to run Vegas, I could not pass it up. Then I saw that it was at night.  This made me pause, but only for a second, because I am NOT a night runner.  I never run at night let alone run a freakin half marathon at night (I think the last time was a 3 mile run at PT in August and that does not count, it was still light and 4 p.m.) .  But come on baby this was Vegas how could I not.  So I signed up and months later I found myself at the big day - it was time to rock the Strip at night.   But the question remained

How do you rock the Strip at night when you are a morning runner especially when you are 3 hours away from your time zone and managed to do everything wrong the day before the race?

Now I am no expert on night running and I have not run a ton of these types of races, but here is what seemed to work for me.  Because in the end, for the girl who hates running at night, I did not mind it at all.  I felt energized, did not have any stomach cramps during or side stitches (which is usually a problem for me), and my legs and ankles cooperated (big plus given all the walking the day before the race and my ever-so angry ankle).  

You know what's coming without further ado here is:

Top 10 Tips for Nighttime Racing

10) Relax the day of the race (a.k.a sit on your butt as much as you can):  Usually the day of the race you wake up at the crack of dawn and go to the race.  Stinks to have to wake up so early but at the same time, if all has gone well you are well rested and coming off a night of good sleep (unless you are running a marathon and then you probably did not sleep at all).  For a night race, you can sleep in (so clearly I slept to 6 a.m., yay time change), but you also have to kill a whole day.  The last thing you want to do is go walking around or stressing yourself out.  Stay put!  Relax. Enjoy an easy day.  I planned to stay in my hotel room the whole day before the race.  I strayed a little bit from that...wouldn't you if these awesome ladies called....
See we are relaxing (Monica, Anne, Meghann and I striking a pose) 

9) Do not freak out.  I wish I could master this.  No matter what type of race it is, I always get nervous before the race.  I just can't help it.  Luckily most races there is not much time between the time you get up and the time you are, well.., running.  But for a night race you have HOURS to ruminate...great....In this case there is only one three things to do - 1) call the running partner - she will calm you down, go over your race plan again; 2) watch a motivational movie - Mighty Ducks - yes please and 3) stay out of your head.  Your head is your worst enemy...didn't you know that?!?

8) Eat and drink right. I think this is the one that I was most stressed about and it seemed like everyone else was worried.  Luckily I have a pretty awesome sports nutritionist, Nancy Clark, who came to my aid.  With her and Robin's suggestions, my fueling and hydration plan worked out great.   Nancy suggested eating more of a dinner at lunch or adding in some extra calories at lunch to be well energized for the race (like pasta or extra sandwiches).  Robin suggested eating breakfast all day long because we know that breakfast foods work before we run normally.  I combined these two suggestions eating foods that I was comfortable with normally before running and eating a bit more.  I had a normal breakfast with yogurt, Go Lean Crunch and a banana.  And at lunch I had PB and Banana sandwich with a banana.  I took a bit extra PB and some extra bread.  An hour before the race I had a granola bar.  And of course all day I hydrated with nuun (until two hours prior to the race) and I had no problems during the race.  Success :)

Meghann and Anne have stomachs of steel! I watched jealously as that ate this and just stuck with my old friend Mr. Peanut Butter. Thanks Meghann for not hating me stealing your picture...right?
Aaron's favorite picture ever

7) Understand your Garmin.  If you are learning how to run at night make sure you know how to work your Garmin at night. This was a major fail on my part!  I knew how to light up the Garmin. But I did not know how to keep it lit.  This was a disaster.  It was really troublesome to see my time as I had to keep lighting up the watch.  I can never figure out my pace based on feel so I need my watch to tell me.  Fail Steph. If you are interested for the Garmin 405, this is how to keep it lit (check here for other manuals):  

Touch and hold menu > select Settings > System > Backlight.
Mode—select how the backlight turns on. Select Manual to press two fingers on the bezel to turn on the backlight for the timeout period. Select Keys and alerts to turn on the backlight once with the two finger press, and then any time a key is pressed or when an alert message appears. Select off to always have the backlight off.  Timeout—select the amount of time the backlight stays on. Use a short backlight setting to conserve battery power.*Source

6) Practice taking photos.  While we are on electronics, don't forget to figure out the camera.   We have a pretty awesome camera and Aaron always gets great shots of me but we were not prepared for night shots and got lots of these...
Hmm, not quite, but good try Aaron 

5) Stay alert.  At night, I kind of do I say this, get tired and act like a five year old?  My bed time has been known to be close to 9 p.m. (I am choosing not to be judged by this).  So I am not surprised that I managed to forget some things like putting EverStride ever, which created some not so fun chaffing (shameless plug for my Sweepstakes here) and emptying my pockets before taking an ice bath post race (are Gus and Shotbloks still good post ice bath?!)

4) Keep warm.  After the race (and even before) it is going to be cold! So always make sure to bring the fuzzy pants, clearly would you ever go anywhere without them?  But seriously, pack for the weather. 
Fuzzy pants are making a comeback, didn't you know that?

3) Come home to fun packages. Ok this does not really have anything to do with anything but come on how can you be unhappy when you come home to these awesome packages for my Wellness Day (hope you all can come)
Just one of the many cool packages I got last night (got stuff from Stonyfield Farms, Tommie Copper, & Hint Water too, plus giveaway winnings from Danielle's Lunabar giveaway)

2) Refuel Right.  After the race, I was so tired!  After all it was already 7:30 and my time it was 10:30.  We did not go to dinner until 10 p.m. and by that time my stomach was in shambles.  Make sure to eat quickly after the race if you can, and if not, if you just fall asleep make up for it the next day. Does not hurt to be in Vegas where the food is out of this world.

1) Have a cheering squad and support crew.  I could never do all of this without my one man support crew, my husband Aaron (I am such a sap but he is pretty amazing, even the girls noted he was super helpful!) Plus he has this one of a kind race shirts...we are thinking of selling them dri-fit for other support hubbys and boyfriends and a potential runner match-like shirt, interested?

Who would not want a shirt like this - let me know if you are interested!
*credit (thanks Meghann sorry for shamelessly stealing your pictures you are just better at this than me)

Have you ever run a race at night?  What did you think?  Did I miss anything

1 comment:

  1. I've never run a night race before but if I do I'm definitely coming back to read these tips again.