Welcome to a new series of guest posts here on the blog!
I often wonder what it’s like in different places (paces) in a race. Up in my pace group, there’s very little chatter, lots of beeping GPS watches and sometimes jockeying for position. It leaves me wondering what life is like way up front and way in the back in the pack, so I decided to find out.
My first guest is very distinguished, because you know I like to keep it classy up in here. Tina Muir is an actual, real life elite athlete! She’s also an English bird with the most adorable accent…and I’m sure she loves when people say that!
Now before you get your knickers in a twist (see what I did there?) about ‘elite’ status and what that means, you must read on. Tina is one of the most down to earth, humble and giving people I’ve ever met…virtually anyway. She just happens to spend her pre-race in a private tent being spoon fed bagels and organic peanut butter. She’s also faster then you and probably anyone you know.
But why am I telling it? I asked her a bunch of
lame questions about what it’s like for an elite before, during and after a race so let’s see how Tina spiced up her answers to make this interesting:
- What is your favorite race distance (aka the one you most like beating the shorts off people in)?
Oooh that’s a tough one. The marathon SHOULD be, but I am yet to have the kind of race that makes me believe that. I am hoping in 5 years you can ask me the same question, and I can say without a doubt, the marathon.
Right now? Half Marathon. Although I am nowhere near finished with that one yet, I think it is the best of both worlds; you get to take in the first 8ish miles, and relax, but then there is the grind of the second half. I love feeling fast and in a rhythm!
- Pace for that distance/ PR if you want to share
My Half Marathon PR is 1:14, which I think is a 5:40 per mile.
- Do you have a pre-race ritual? Do you plan your outfit, meal, sleep, etc the night before or the morning of?
I used to be obsessive about my pre race; had to take an ice bath the night before; eat the same thing at EXACTLY 3 hours before my race; wear the same outfit; listen to the same 3 songs just before; strut around with my bitch face on, hands on hips and all!
However, as I have grown wiser (:P) I have let a lot of that go. I think the marathon forces you to be a little more adaptable, as there are too many variables out of your control. I do have my Saucony racing outfit that I have to wear to every race, and I am very careful with what I eat to make sure I do not upset my stomach, but I am a lot more relaxed with it now.
- Where do you line up at the start? Front, back or somewhere in the middle?
I am usually at the very front, depending on the level of race. At the Chicago Marathon, I was in the elite corral, but was probably 3-4 people back as the men started with us too. We were packed together like sardines, which is something I have never experienced, and made me appreciate the space I usually have at the very front!
5. What happens during the race? Describe the vibe and surroundings…
If there is an elite tent, we are all escorted there by a particular time, so we spend a little while waiting. That time is very quiet, nervous energy fills the air, and we try to make small talk with one another as we sit in a circle.
On the start line it is a little more tense, I may wish others good luck, but we are do not really make eye contact very often.
Once the gun goes, it really depends on the race. If it is championship, it is usually very serious; no one talks, and you can feel the tension in the air.
A lot of us still wear GPS watches, so you do hear those beeping, but there is not usually a need to look for the most part as we are aware what is going on. As for taking pictures, absolutely not!
In the big races, we are usually lucky enough to have aid stations with our own drinks, which is a HUGE help. I think about how lucky I am every time I grab one.
- What happens at the finish? Hugging? Selfies? Food?
As much as it looks easy on the TV, we are absolutely spent, and often can be found on the floor, or holding on to the volunteers. I know I cross that line giving everything I have, so there would be no hugging for at least a few minutes, as I am trying to come back to reality! Haha!
I would say it is rare to take a selfie on the scene, especially as our phones are with our belongings, but usually photographers are around so you may be in photos. We definitely hug and congradulate one another, and usually a big group of us cool down together.
After we cool down and get our breath back, it is usually time for awards, and that is where the cameras come out, and I make sure to eat something to start refueling.
- What do you do when you get home? Ice bath? Massage? Foam roll? Wine? Cheeseburger? Sleep?
A lot of the big races will have massages available, but you have to sign up, and as I am a little further back, I am usually too late to get to the front of the list J
The first thing I do is make sure I eat, and yes, a cheeseburger is often on the menu, or a giant stack of pancakes. If this is a big race that we have been peaking for all year, we will go for whatever the heck we want; pizza, burgers, a beer. Elites can relax and enjoy the post race celebration too J
Later in the day a nap is usually on the agenda for most, but I am not really a nap taker, so I would just spend time with loved ones.
I’m sure at this point you want to stalk Tina…er, um I mean follow her on social media like I do:
[Tweet “An #elite #runners perspective on #racing. What’s @tinamuir #PlaceInThePace?”]
What’s it like in your pace group?
How long do you think you could run at a 5:40 pace?
How much do you love Tina?