I’m a rule follower. If you have rules or instructions or directions for me, I will adhere to them as best I can. It’s a very exciting life I lead, I know.
So when I get an email from the organizers of a race with the subject line Confirmation Sheet & Final Information or Final Race Instructions, you can bet I’m all over it like a guy who loves instructions maybe more than is healthy for him.
Last week, I got THE EMAIL for my next race. (Along with spam-levels of correspondence pertaining to upgrades and special offers and a dozen other new ways I can spend my money. But that’s a post for another day.)
The much-anticipated email contained FOUR KEY ELEMENTS that are instrumental to my race experience.
1. Starting group
Because Rock ’n’ Roll races have so many participants, runners are
herded organized in groups (corrals) of 500 to 1,000, assigned according to the time they say they’ll finish in when they registered.
When I signed up for this race, I put down a finish time of 1:50, which puts me in corral 3. It’s my lowest starting group ever for a half. At least according to my self-assessment, I’m among the fastest runners in the field.
2. Final course map
Before I set out for any run, I want to know where I’ll be going, and races are no different. If there is a hill at mile 3, or at mile 13, I want to know about it so I can mentally prepare. The week before the race is when I like to do my homework.
The half course for this race changed dramatically since the last time I ran it, so I have more homework than usual. THE EMAIL gives me access to all the details I need: water stations, rights and lefts, elevation gain.
3. Transportation details
Getting to and from the Rock ’n’ Roll race is my greatest source of stress, because of the tens of thousands of participants and spectators who will be joining me. In addition to studying up on my running route, I also like to plan my arrival to and escape from the start/finish area. Parking & Transportation Information is a must-click for me in THE EMAIL.
If I have someone coming to watch, like my parents or my wife, I prefer to have one of them drop me off near the start area. If I’m going solo, I tend to find a park-and-ride nearby and take the light rail to the start area.
4. Expo info
If you’ve seen one race expo, for the most part you’ve seen them all. But I still get a kick out of going. I’m able to get my hands on my race bib and tech T-shirt, plus a few other goodies. And if I have the time, I also like spinning through the booths to see the runners gear. Plus, because this expo is local, I usually see a few people I know.
I try to get to the expo as early as I can on the first day (usually Friday). The later in the day I wait, the more crowded it gets. If I wait till the second day (usually Saturday), the crowds get even bigger—that’s when all the out-of-towners go—and the booth freebies start to run out.