Once I decided to become a runner, I talked with my doctor to determine I was healthy enough to take up running. I was given the green light so I invested in a good pair of running shoes, and set my sights on the road ahead. I had been suffering hip and joint pain as well as struggled with my IT Band on occasion so minimizing any additional pain while running was paramount. After all, I wanted running to help with my physical health not add additional stress and pain as I begin this journey.
Next, I wanted to race in a fun 5K (3.1 miles) for my first race but also didn’t want running and the races to become financially out of control. I had heard an advertisement about the upcoming Hot Chocolate 5/15K coming to my town. (Who doesn’t love to enjoy chocolate?) This particular race cost $45 to register (for the 5K portion) and included a logo gender specific fleece jacket, a timing chip in my race bib, and a chocolate fondue bowl filled with wonderful treats for dipping (upon finishing the race). Usually the longer the race distance, the cost increases, however the sooner you register, the cost is lower and most races offer a group discount (as the race date draws closer, the registration price increases). So, signing up early and getting friends to sign up together can help keep the cost at a minimum. (Always be sure to read the race details, refund policy and included swag for each race as they vary).
I wanted to start off slow, get my feet wet and test the waters so to speak. I had goals but didn’t know how realistic they were. I started searching the internet for quality running techniques and often asked many questions of my experiences runner friends and all free of charge I might add. (Trust me when I say, no question is a silly question). Running is about your own challenges and doing right by you, not your neighbor. I found what worked for me and knew if there was one thing I had learned about running was not to overdo it; slow and steady wins the race. I knew that I needed to prepare not only my body for the 3.1 miles but also my mind and my spirit.
I had about six weeks until the Hot Chocolate race, so I got busy. I downloaded (for under $5) a running app for my iPhone. There are hundreds, if not thousands of running apps for your smart phone so depending on the cost you wish to spend (some are even free) and the type of app you are looking for, you can select an app that is right for you. I choose the Couch to 5K app for a minimal onetime cost. I liked this particular app in that it started at an achievable pace and progressed three times a week for eight weeks.
Most of the bigger races (usually more than 5,000 runners), will have an Expo a few days prior to race where many race of the sponsors are sampling their products while picking up your running packet. These expos are nice because lots of race sponsors and vendors are present to show off their products and many samples are provided (free of charge).
If the race is smaller, most often there is not an Expo, however the race website will provide information on packet pickup times and location (usually several days prior to race day as well as race day morning). Your packet includes your bib with timing chip and all the swag included in the registration. If the race includes a finisher’s medal, you will receive that as you cross the finish line.
My preference as a beginner runner is to pick up my packet prior to race day morning. Race day can be a hectic time trying to get myself ready; ensuring my race bib is securely attached to my body, using the bathroom, locating and making my way to my designated corral at least 15 minutes prior to my start time. The last thing I need to worry about is getting my packet at the last moment. This way, I can prepare at home, know where to park (and if there is a parking fee), and simply enjoy the stroll to my corral as the race time draws near. I’m sure as I run in more races, I will become more comfortable in my routine and need less time to prepare.
I can certainly attest that we had some good fun photo-opportunities and delicious samples too.
And super fun vendors. Not to mention all the great photo props to get you hyped for the race!
Now that I have my packet, I am ready for race day!!