So you’ve committed to jumping in your first race, you’re all trained up for the big day, have the shoes, the watch, the hat, and the anti-chafe stuff that your best friend said is vital. But now what?
Race day can be daunting. Looking at the scene when you pull into the parking lot can be overwhelming with fast looking runners jogging about, and hundreds of people all milling around a collection of brightly colored pop-up tents. Where are you supposed to go? What are you supposed to do for the next 15 minutes before the gun goes off?
Here’s how to navigate race morning stress free…
- Pick up your bib number – The first thing I do when I arrive at a race is pick up my bib (if you picked it up at a packet pickup the day before you can ignore this step). Aside from your racing outfit that you arrived with, your bib is the most important thing. I then take my bib and head back to the car, and pin my bib to my shirt in the exactly right, OCD measurements I prefer.
- Find a bathroom – You’ll be surprised how many times you’ll want to use the bathroom before the gun goes off. It’s best to get in line early and get one trip out of the way. Plus then you know where it is. Sometimes races have “secret” bathrooms: a lone porta potty that’s tucked behind a tree left over from the golf tournament the day before or construction on the neighbor’s house. These are gold. No lines = no stress. Get the lay of the bathroom landscape early, especially in big races.
- Warm-up and/or make friends – Racing is about community. Nothing calms me down before a race quite like a warm-up with friends. Fortunately in Missoula every race has a bunch of people you will recognize, and if you don’t there are a bunch of people who want to be your friend. Ask someone to go on an easy 5-10 minute jog to get those muscles warmed up. OR find your friends, tell jokes, tell stories, make new
friends, and generally talk about anything except the race for a while.
- Get to the starting line – About 5 minutes before the start of the race (10 minutes in massive races) starting getting into the starting corral. This is your last chance to check and make sure you have everything: shoes tied, bib on, sunglasses, socks you haven’t washed since middle school, etc. I like to find my lucky “spot” in the corral where I am comfortable. Defend your space.
- Bang! – When the gun goes off, just have fun! Run or walk like you’ve trained. This is the easiest part of the day. When you cross the finish line, have more fun
- Enjoy the day – Congratulations! You just finished your first race. Now it’s time to hang out, cheer on other finishers, and tell valiant tales of your time out on the course. This is what makes races fun: the community afterwards. Some of my dearest friends I met after races. Set up a running date for next week, then sign up for another race before you have time to question your judgement!
If you are considering signing up for your first race I would highly recommend the Run Like a Mother 5k (for women), or the Mountain to Meadow 5k, 10k, and 1/2 Marathon. Both are very laid back and have a fantastic post-race vibe (meaning food!).
See you out on there,
Forrest is a manager and race director at Runner’s Edge, and coaches local adults. He has been racing competitively for the last 18 years and often struggles with remaining calm before races.
This time of year we are all playing the guessing game of what trail are clear of snow and what still has thigh deep post holes designed to cut shins with crystalized snow.
Here’s a few ideas in and around Missoula that may keep you running snow free. Please remember that if you do encounter mud, snow, or puddles stay on the trail! Run over the snow, through mud, and ankle deep in that puddle. If you have any recommendations to add please let me know!
- North Hills – the north hills/waterworks area is almost completely devoid of the white stuff. One or two drifts near the Homestead are easily navigable over the top, otherwise the North Hills are free.
- South face of Jumbo – the Jumbo South Zone is now open! Everything from the Cherry Street Trailhead is free of snow and pretty dry. If you’re planning on pushing over the summit to the saddle, however, be prepared for some deep postholing!
- Blue Mountain – most of the lower trails are free of snow. Depending on how high you go keep an eye out for lingering snow banks and wet trail. You’re gonna get wet!
- Rattlesnake – A lot of the lower Rattlesnake Recreation area is snow free, but there is some ice tucked in shady spots. The south facing trails above Sawmill Gul
ch are surprisingly dry.
- Larry Creek Loop – Larry Creek is a hidden little gem at the mouth of Bass Creek. It’s south facing and melts out quick. This six mile loop is worth the drive.
- Sentinel – Mount Sentinel is clear to both summits and actually dusty in a few spots now. Seeps at the bottom of the Mo-Z trail add some moisture, but pretty much everything on Sentinel is snow free, just be cautious when considering adding a beacon lap or descending the upper part of Smokejumper.
- Little Park Creek/Inez Creek – both of these trailheads up Miller Creek Road melt out early and offer gradual climbs uphill. Be aware that you are sharing these trails with tics, but it’s still very much worth it!
- Barmeyer Trail – Is pretty easily traveled now, plus if you make it to the lookout you can see the work Montana Trail Crew just did to re-veg the road cut.
If you have any questions on where these trails are either give us a call, or take a look at the Cairn Cartography map of the area (the featured image). We can point them out to you on the map as well!
With dirt patches reappearing on the sides of Waterworks and Mount Sentinel we know trail season isn’t too far behind. But, as excited as we are to get out and run some fresh single track, we do keep in mind a few rules for spring trail running etiquette.
- Trails are not like Valentine’s Day, we want single! Help keep single track trails single by continuing to run through the snow and ice. A lot of times the actual trail holds packed ice longer than the adjacent dirt, but tough it out and stay on the path. Every time someone avoids the ice by running alongside the trail, the path widens slightly. Keep it single!
- Run through the mud! As the ice melts we may see a week of puddles and mud in the path tempting us to run on the fringes. The same rules apply as to the ice; run through puddles, run through the mud. Some discretion is required here, however. If the mud is incredibly deep and sloppy, please consider not running that trail for another few days. Give it time to dry before you leave deep footprints that will be there until August.
- Pick up dog poop bags! This time of year we start to see lots of little ‘presents’ emerge from the snow left behind by our furry friends and lazy owners. Please don’t leave dog poop bags behind thinking, “I’ll get that on the way out.” Please clean up after your dog all the way to the trash can! We can also help keep our trails clean by picking up bags that are not our own. One of our customers reported finding just over 60 bags left on the trail in one outing thus leaving the trail much, much cleaner than she found it.
With Bitterroot Runoff, Sentinel Hill Climb, 11 Miles to Paradise, and Mountain to Meadow all around the corner we are looking forward to putting in some miles on the trails and we hope to see you out there (respecting the trail of course)!
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Sunday | 11am - 4pm
304 N Higgins
Missoula, MT 59802