Monday, June 28, 2010

Random Thoughts from Munich

Here are a few thoughts about the Munich City Run...

The changing room situation would never fly in the States. In previous years there were separate tents for men and women to put their bags/backpacks and change their clothing after the race. This time around the tents were marked for men and women. But there were women in the men's tent and vice versa. When I was in the tent after the race doing some stretching and switching from running shoes to sandals, there were two men nearby who had stripped down to their birthday suits. There were also women who had stripped down to nothing with men in the tent. I've been living in Europe too long because that didn't faze me at all. A pervert in the tent was the last thing on my mind while I was doing my post-race stretching routine. Even if there was a pervert in the tent, he probably would have been too tired after running 21.1 km to engage in any deviant behavior. 

I also can't imagine having unguarded tents in the States. Someone would go through them during the race and take anything valuable. I know that's a horrible thought about my fellow countrymen. But it seems like if you turn your back on something in the States, it's gone before you realize it. I had my wallet with emergency money, old mobile phone, massage stick (that was definitely the most valuable item after the race), and car keys in my gym bag. Everything was there when I returned. It's wonderful to concentrate on the race without worrying about my things. 

It was nice that the trails in the English Garden used for the race were blocked off to non-racers. It's enough of a challenge to find a gap to pass another runner without getting an elbow in the face. But having casual park visitors trying to cross the trails in previous years made it even more daunting. This was the first year that the trails were closed to the general public. 

I had two songs in my head that alternated throughout the race: "Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress)" by the Hollies and "Talking in Your Sleep" by the Romantics. The chorus to "Talking" started playing in my head as I was in line for the Porta Potty before the race. "Long Cool Woman" put me in a good frame of mind because I heard that one during the Neumarkt City Run 10.5K one year when I did well. 

When I took the subway back to the park-and-ride where I left my car,  I felt sorry for the people sitting next to me. After running 21.1 km, I know that I didn't smell like roses. But they were nice and didn't seem to care. One of the people had done the City Run before. Another one was from California and is spending the summer in Munich visiting friends. 

It's nice that all rides on Munich public transportation on race day are free with your race shirt or registration papers. There wouldn't be any place to park near the start area anyway. The subway is very convenient and the park-and-ride that I use only costs 1.50 euro for the day. It's a 12-minute ride from there to the start area. The subway stop is about 100 meters from the changing tents and starting line. 

In Germany there are still a lot more men who race than women. In the States the ratio is around 50-50. There were about 1500 female finishers in yesterday's half-marathon and about 4500 men. In the more serious runs, there is an even higher ratio of men to women. Running is still viewed as more of a male sport. 

Today was a lazy day, though my muscles aren't as sore as I thought they would be. Earlier this afternoon I took a short walk. Tomorrow I'll ride my bike to work to loosen up my muscles. I should be back on the trails by the end of the week. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Munich City Run

I like the Munich City Run Half-Marathon because it's more of a people's race than a serious one. Most races in Germany are for serious runners only, though that is starting to change. The City Run series is the biggest series of races in Germany. City Runs take place in 8 major cities. I like the route of the Munich run because it's flat and all but 3 km of the half-marathon are in the English Garden. 

Because of the warm weather, my expectation was to finish on my feet. I didn't set any time goals due to the heat and humidity. I would be happy with any finish under 2:10. My plan was to start slowly, take drinks of diluted Gatorade that I carried with me every 15 minutes, and eat some Gummi Bears every 5 km. I ended up drinking the full half-liter of diluted Gatorade in the race. The plan worked well because my time of 1:55:52 was quite respectable. It wasn't my best time, but wasn't my worst either. That time was about halfway between my best and worst. My average pace was 5:30/km or about 8:50/mile. I was the 354th woman out of 1539 and 21st in my age group out of 102. I don't know how I did overall because the men's and women's results are listed separately. It's nice to know that I'm not slowing down yet. 

After the first couple of kilometers I found my pace and was able to hold it pretty well. Being the non-anal runner that I am, I totally forgot to hit the split button on my watch to record my kilometer split times. When did I realize this? Around the 5 km mark. But I could tell that I was keeping a consistent pace because my time at the 10 km mark was around 54:30 and my time at 20 km was 1:49 and change. Even with the drink stops every 3 km or so, I was able to keep a steady pace. The funny thing was that I felt like I was really holding myself back because of the weather. I decided not to push myself at all, especially in the last 5 km. But even at the later stages of the run, I was passing more people than were passing me. The time seemed to pass very quickly, even in the last hot kilometers. 

My left hamstring was a non-issue, though it was a little tight in the first kilometer. Once it loosened up, it was fine. Even the walking that I did when I took my drinks didn't make it tighten up. I did have something weird happen though. Sometime in the last 5 km a woman passed me and bumped me, causing me to stumble. That stumble caused my 3rd and 4th toes on my right foot to cramp. But they fortunately loosened up after a few meters. I did get a bruised toenail on my right foot though. When I did my post-run stretching I used my Stick, which helped to loosen my stiff muscles. 

This year's shirt was ugly. It was orange like the others from previous years. In this race nobody gets a number; but everyone has to wear the same shirt. That's part of the City Run experience and also how you get refreshments at the water points. It was two-toned orange with black stripes on the sleeves. It seems like the shirts get uglier each year. But they're good technical shirts, so I shouldn't complain too much.  The post-race refreshments were a little weak. The organizers handed out bottles of mineral water and cherry or berry juice mixed with mineral water. There were apples, oranges, and Power Bars. Runners could also get beer. The last time I did this run, the refreshments were much better with pretzels, oranges, and rolls in addition to the other fruit and Power Bars. 

The Munich Marathon people were at the 1.5/19.5 km mark and announced that this year for the first time there will be a half-marathon to go along with the marathon this October. The weather is nice and cool in October. Guess what I'm thinking...

Friday, June 25, 2010

One More Day

Tomorrow is my half-marathon in Munich. Normally I'd be writing every day and counting down the seconds until my race. But I'm not feeling very optimistic about having a fast time even though training went very well. We're having a heat wave, which started a couple of days ago. For the past month it has been nice and cool. Then it started to heat up and it will be rather hot and humid tomorrow. Heat and humidity are my least favorite conditions. I'd rather run in freezing rain than in heat.

But I'll make the best of it. I'll start slowly and adjust my pace depending on how I feel. I'm planning to carry a bottle of diluted Gatorade with me because of how the water points are spaced. The first one is at the 5 km mark, but the second one isn't until between 13 and 14 km. That's too far to space water points, especially when the weather is warm. When I did this run two years ago, it was also very warm and the organizers didn't add extra water points. I carried diluted Gatorade with me and took drinks about every 2 km to stay hydrated. I'm also bringing some Gummi Bears, which I used in training, for extra energy. I'll be able to totally bypass the crowds at the water points that way.

I was seriously thinking about bailing out, even though I paid my entry fee. But that would be wrong. Bailing out when I'm not sick or too injured to run would dishonor my former running partner Bill's memory. If he was still alive, he would tell me to treat the run as a training run in a different location and not worry about my time. He would also remind me that running is 90% mental and to keep my head in it. He would also tell me that true winners don't give up.

If I feel like stopping, I will have a couple of motivators to keep me going. The first is that I will pin a photo of Bill to my shirt. Having Bill's photo with me got me through the last 3 km of the Munich Marathon in 2007. My legs felt like they were made of lead and I saw the area by the water point at 39 km where people who couldn't finish were gathered. It was so tempting to stop. But I heard Bill's voice telling me that I had come too far to quit and that I could make it to the finish. If talking with the dead makes me certifiably insane, then so be it. We all have our tricks to get us through tough spots in a race. Having imaginary conversations with the person who taught me all about long distance running happens to be mine. After Bill died, his widow ran in the Lincoln Half-Marathon and had a banner made for the Leukemia Society water point (Bill died from complications of leukemia) which said, "Bill Wessig 1947-2006. He never quit." If I start feeling crappy, I'll focus on that banner.

My other motivator will be my age. When I think about a typical American 51-year-old woman, the word "runner" doesn't come to mind. Most women my age, especially fellow American women, don't exercise at all. Judging from the people that I saw during my last trip to the States two years ago, I'm in much better shape than women half my age. I read a while back in "Runner's World" that only 3% of the American population can run 3 miles (about 4.8 km), which really doesn't surprise me anymore. The percentage who can run longer distances is even less. Even though my time may be slower than I'd like tomorrow because of the weather, I'm still part of an elite group and should feel good about finishing and giving it my best.

New World Order

This World Cup has been one of the most exciting and interesting ever. There seems to be a new order in the football world. The traditional football powers seem to be underachieving, while teams from minor football countries are doing surprisingly well.

The two finalists from the last World Cup, France and Italy, have been eliminated. I was glad to see both of them go. I have been to France several times and think it's a beautiful country with a lot of great sights, good wine, beautiful scenery, and fantastic food. But for some reason I just don't like the French football team. I especially didn't like them this year because they cheated to make it into the World Cup. The goal that gave them the victory over Ireland that they needed in qualifying was a hand ball that the referee missed. Since the last World Cup I've thought that Italy was overrated. I used to cheer for the Italians because they had the best looking players (that honor now goes to Spain). I also thought that the dramatics that accompanied their dives and fake injuries were the best. But I felt that they benefitted from a lot of bad calls by the referees in the last World Cup. Italy didn't live up to its potential in the European Championships two years ago and certainly didn't in this World Cup.

Germany, England, and Spain seem to not be playing up to their potential. I felt that England was overrated and not really a title contender, though many experts felt that this would be England's year to win it. The Netherlands has also looked a little out of sorts at times.

The South American teams all look fantastic, especially Argentina and Brazil. I think that Argentina is the team to beat. Argentina's Lionel Messi is showing why he's one of the top players in the world. He doesn't have any goals so far; but he has done an excellent job setting up his teammates for scores. It looks like all 5 South American teams will go through to the next round. I'm cheering for Uruguay as a dark horse. Diego Forlan is playing very well for Team Uruguay and is fun to watch. It's nice to see Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay doing well because they haven't had any football glory since the 1950s. I think that the South Americans along with Spain have the most exciting and dynamic style of football. They show why football is called, "The Beautiful Game."

Japan and Slovakia are two teams who made the second round for the first time. Japan looked very impressive in beating Denmark last night. The Blue Samurai are also another dark horse. It's good to see some new blood in the later rounds, though I think that the Netherlands will beat Slovakia in their upcoming match.

The USA has a good team and an easier path to the later rounds due to its bracket. Team USA is a good team, not a great one, but they're also part of the new world football order. While the great teams, like Brazil, Argentina, or Germany, are deep, the USA is not. The USA also doesn't dive and have fake injuries like the better teams. If the USA wants to become a great team, it will need to work on its theatrics. It's amazing how drama influences the referees.

Now it's time to watch the Brazil-Portugal game. Both of these teams will go through to the second round. I'm cheering for Brazil. Whatever the outcome of this game, and the Spain-Chile and Switzerland-Honduras matches later, this World Cup will continue to be very interesting.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

T Minus 7 Days...

One more week to go before my half-marathon. Today was my last big run, about 15-16 km. It went pretty well. I felt a little sluggish because I was wearing a lot of clothing. This past week has been rainy. This morning when I started out it was about 5 C. But it was a no-brainer to don my rain suit and run outdoors versus doing a 1:30 run on the treadmill in the gym. If I was doing a short run,  I could have stuck it out on the treadmill. But the thought of having to run on a belt with no change of scenery for so long just didn't do it for me. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I'll do easy 5 km runs. 

It was raining pretty hard, but I stayed dry. My rain suit is old, but trusty. When I run in the rain, I put my iPod in a Ziploc bag and then put it in my jacket pocket. I also wear my son's "Slovakia" baseball cap to keep my hair dry. The Slovakia hat serves a dual purpose. In addition to keeping my hair dry, it also keeps people from stopping me and asking directions. While I'm all for helping tourists, I don't like to have to stop during a run to do so. 

I think that next week's half-marathon will be a little rough because it's supposed to get hot next weekend after rain early in the week. It figures. I'd rather run in rain than in heat. Plus there won't really be time to acclimate to the heat. The good things are that the race starts at 8 am and most of it is in the shady English Garden. I'll just go out and do the best I can under the conditions. One thing that has helped me to get used to running in warm conditions is my rain suit. I bake in it because I have to wear tights and longs sleeves under it. I hate how the rain suit's fabric feels on my bare skin, thus the long sleeves and tights. 

On the subject of Slovakia from a couple of paragraphs's amazing how many people mix up Slovakia and Slovenia, at least from the comments about the World Cup that I read on US sites. They're both Slavic, but they're two different countries. Slovakia is the eastern part of the former Czechoslovakia. Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia. A lot of US reporters are having a field day with making fun of little Slovenia, a country with a total population of about 2 million. One thing is true--most Americans probably couldn't locate either Slovenia or Slovakia on a map. Even though Slovenia is small, it has a very good football (soccer) team. The Slovenian team is topping its division after two games and has a good chance of advancing to the second round. They're ahead of both the US and pre-tournament favorite England. In qualifying for the World Cup Slovenia beat good teams such as Russia. The Slovenian team also has a cool name: The Green Dragons. I'll be cheering for the Green Dragons in their match against England.

The teams that I really like at this World Cup so far are the South American teams. Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay all have a good chance to advance to the second round after two games. Chile was very impressive in its first game. I love the Latin American style of football because the players look like they're having fun. Latin American teams are entertaining to watch, whether they win or lose. 

Till next time...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cool Team Names at the World Cup

Some of the teams at the World Cup have great names, while others are pretty lame. Here is a sampling of some of the team names:

USA: US Boys. One of the lamest team names.
South Africa: Bafana Bafana. I like that one because it's very African.
Cameroon: Indomitable Lions. Great name, though they weren't very indomitable in their first match against Japan.
Japan: Blue Samurai. They wear blue uniforms, so the name fits.
France: Les Bleus, which means, "The Blues." It's for their blue uniforms.
Italy: The Azzurri, which also means, "The Blues." The Italians also wear blue uniforms.
New Zealand: The All-Whites. I guess that's to distinguish the football team from the national rugby team, which is the All-Blacks.
Brazil: The Samba Kings. Very fitting. Their style of play is like the samba. One of my favorite names.
Netherlands: The Orange. The Dutch wear orange uniforms, ergo their name.
Australia: The Socceroos. Australia is evidently one of the few countries that calls the sport "soccer" instead of "football." It's a cute name, though it sounds like the American children's underwear brand Underoos.
Ghana: The Black Stars. That's a pretty good name for a pretty good team.

A Weighty Double Standard

Why is it okay for people to comment on a thin person's weight, but it's a bad thing to comment about an obese person's weight? There's a definite double standard in what's allowable to say. People can tell a thin person that he or she is thin. But tell an obese person that he or she is fat, and he'll/she'll go crying to the Political Correctness Police. I guess because thin and normal weight people are a minority in the US, it's okay to make comments about them. 

I'm very small and on the low end of the normal range for my age and height. That comes from a combination of genetics, a healthy diet, and a lot of physical activity. Yet people, especially the overweight, feel that thin people are fair game. For example, when I first came to Germany, an overweight woman told me, "You're so thin. You must starve yourself." My response to her was, "Come and see me after I've run 10 miles in the woods and then tell me that." I would never tell an overweight person, "You're so fat. You must sit in front of the TV all day eating Doritos," or "You must have really slow metabolism."  

I've also had people tell me that they used to be thin either: a) before having children, or b) when they were younger. How the heck am I supposed to respond to that one? My natural reaction would be, "So what happened?" But I don't say it because it's rude. I have had a child and was able to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight through diet and exercise. It took some work to lose the last 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of baby weight, but I did it. 

If I could pick how I look, I'd stay just how I am. I love being active and able to eat pretty much anything that I want without worrying about my weight. How many other women can say that?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Last Big Run Before Munich

Today was my last really long run before the half-marathon on the 27th. It was one hour going out and 57 minutes coming back. I went a little faster than I intended and will probably pay for it tomorrow. But I didn't really feel like I was pushing myself. At least I made it a point to start off slowly. There was even enough energy for a closing sprint for the last 200 meters. 

The training for this run reminds me a lot of when I trained for my first half-marathon back in 1991.  Overall it has gone extremely well. I still follow the program that my late running partner Bill used with me almost 20 years ago. It works for me, so I stick with it. I don't like a lot of the new long distance training programs which take a runner "From Zero to Marathon in 12 Weeks."  First of all, they build the mileage too quickly. I have tendinitis in my knees. Those programs would aggravate my tendinitis in no time. As long as I build my mileage slowly, my knees don't bother me at all. They also don't have enough long runs in them. A typical quickie half-marathon program will only have 1-2 runs in the 10-mile (16 km) range. Short marathon programs only have one 20-miler (32 km). I believe that a runner needs a lot of long runs to prepare the body for the rigors of a long race. For my upcoming race I had at least 5 runs in the 15-16 km range and 3 between 19 and 21 km. Because I do so many longer runs, I know that I'll be able to handle the distance and the time on my feet. I may not get a PR at my age, but I know that I'll finish without any problems. 

Next week's long run will be either for 1:30 or 1:20. I'll do 1:30 if I decide to do the flatter course that I've been running on for the past three weeks. If I decide to run in the hills for a change of pace, I'll go for 1:20. When I wake up next Sunday I'll see how I feel and decide then. I can't believe that race day is almost here. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Something So Good Must Be Bad For You

When I started running back in 1989, nobody ever told me that running was bad. In fact, there were a lot of female runners in California doing races from 5Ks to ultra-marathons. People who I ran with talked about the benefits of running for both men and women. But when I moved to Germany, it was amazing how many people told me that running was bad, especially for women.

I met a lot of people who supposedly knew someone who died of a heart attack while running. While it does happen, like at the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials, it is a rare thing. The reason that death by heart attack while running is publicized is because it happens so infrequently. But with all of these friends (or acquaintances) of friends keeling over from heart attacks on the run, you'd think it was the world's leading cause of death. As my late running partner Bill put it about a person dying of a heart attack while running, "At least he went doing something that he loved."

Non-runners also like to bring up Jim Fixx, who died at a young age of heart trouble. He was a runner. In fact, running helped him to live longer than he would have if he was sedentary. Many of his sedentary family members died in their 30s and 40s from heart disease. He died at 52, which is still young but "old" for his family.

People also like to tell me that running will damage my knees. I do have tendinitis in my knees. But the only time that it acts up is when it's time to get new shoes. When my shoes are not ready to be retired, my knees are perfectly fine. Even long runs in the hills don't bother them. I recently read an article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine which said that running is good for the knees and can actually prevent arthritis. A group of long-time runners was compared with a non-exercising control group. At the beginning of the study, about 5% of the running group had arthritis in their knees, while nobody in the control group did. But at the end of the study several years later, no additional runners got arthritis while about 15% of the control group developed it.

Many Germans, especially women, have told me that women shouldn't run because it's bad for them. Most of them couldn't give me an explanation of exactly how running is bad for women, while others said that it would harm my organs, damage my pelvis, or cause infertility. A female cardiologist even told me that long distance running was bad for women. But to give her a break, she was from a country in Eastern Europe that's about 4 centuries behind Western Europe or North America.

There's a saying about junk foods...the better they taste, the worse they are for you. I guess non-runners must feel the same about running. If it's fun, it must be a bad thing. I don't care what others think; I plan to continue my "bad running habit" as long as I possibly can. When I'm a senior citizen, I want to be like the older folks that I see running on the trail.

By the way, my heart is in great shape, my knees are fine, my organs and pelvis are undamaged, and I'm not infertile. And if my heart decides to stop while I'm on the trail, I'd want people to say that I went out just the way I wanted to--doing something that I love.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bad Parent School Dropout ( or Honors Graduate)

I think that I read too many parenting websites. So many of them make me feel like a bad parent, especially if I was living in the States. I share Dr. Phil's view of parenting, which is that kids should grow up to be independent, productive citizens and not spend their whole lives as extensions of their parents. It seems like Stateside parenting is all about being a "helicopter mom" and not letting kids do anything on their own. I've even seen TV shows with college age kids whose parents call them to remind them to go to class, do their assignments, and even clean their kids' dorm rooms and do their laundry. My mom did my laundry once when I was in college. Then she told me to buy a box of Cheer and read the directions for which clothing went into hot, warm, and cold water.

Here in Germany just about all of the moms would be Bad Parent School Dropouts or Honors Graduates, depending on how you look at it. In the States, many kids aren't allowed to walk or ride their bikes to school on their own. My son rides his bike to school on his own, though I'll drive him in inclement weather. He also bikes or walks to friends' houses on his own. He and his friends ride their bikes all over town. When he goes to a friend's house, I tell him to be home by 6 for dinner. All of my son's friends do the same, just like when I was a child. Kids here are raised to be more independent at an early age. The German moms that I talk to think that US "helicopter moms" are crazy. Many of the kids in my son's class take either the train or bus to school without any parental supervision. They also walk or bike alone. And yet they somehow survive. 

Last summer my son rode the train by himself for the first time from a town about 30 km north of where I live. He had slept over at a friend's house and I was supposed to have picked him up. But I was sick with the flu and knew that I couldn't drive that far to get him. I told him that he'd have to take the train home. The local train station is very close to my house--I was able to manage the two-minute drive even with my illness. When my son got off the train, the first thing he said was, "That was fun. I want to ride the train again by myself." He has since ridden the train and bus by himself to friends' houses. By letting him go short distances on the train or bus, he's getting both independence and self-confidence. I can see being turned in to Child Protective Services if I let my son ride a train or bus unsupervised in the States. 

One parenting website that I used to read was crazy. Just about all of the people practiced attachment parenting, co-sleeping, gave their kids either homemade or organic baby food, and never ever gave their little darlings anything with sugar. What alternate universe are these people living in? These moms all make me feel like a Bad Parent because my son eats candy, cookies, and ice cream for treats. He even drinks an occasional soda without any ill effects. My diet at home is very healthy with lots of fruits and vegetables. A couple of cookies after dinner won't give my child a mouth full of cavities, cause hyperactivity or make him autistic or obese. I think that kids who never have sugary treats are more apt to crave them or binge on them since they're not allowed to have them at home. 

There is one place where I don't like my son going alone--the Burger King at the train station, which is close to his school. A lot of the kids, including my son, like to go to BK during their lunch break (there I go again being a Bad Parent because my son eats at BK once in a while). But because it's in a train station, where some questionable types hang out, he can only go there if he's with a group. It's a safety in numbers issue. He's fine with that rule and understands why he has to follow it. 

I would rather be a Bad Parent who gives her child independence and the self-confidence that goes along with it than someone who is constantly hovering over him. Keeping a child in a protective bubble will only stifle his growth. It will not teach him anything except how to be dependent on his parents for everything. The only way that he will learn to deal with the world is to go out in it and experience it for himself. Three cheers for all of the Bad Parents out there who feel the same way I do. 

For more information on how to let your child be an independent person, check out It's written by a woman named Lenore Skenazy who was dubbed "The Worst Mom in America" because she let her son ride the New York City subway by himself at age 9. He wanted to ride the subway home from the store by himself, so his mom gave him a map, a $20 bill, a Metro Card, and quarters to make a phone call home. Forty-five minutes later he arrived home safe, sound, and feeling great about getting home on his own. It sounds a lot like my son's first solo train trip. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I Don't Sleep, I Dream

I chose the name of a song by REM for today's entry because it fits perfectly.  In my last entry I briefly mentioned pre-race nightmares as one of my "running neuroses." Since running my first half-marathon back in 1991, I've found that these pre-race dreams are a good thing. When I have at least one, I do well in a race. It's when I don't have them that something goes wrong during a race. My record is three before a race. A couple of days ago I just had my first nightmare before the Muenchener Stadtlauf (Munich City Run) half-marathon, which will be on the 27th. My pre-race dreams fall into several categories:

1) Not knowing where the starting line is or where the race will be held. In real life that has never happened. I always scout out where the start will be, where to get my number, where to park, where to leave my bag, etc. in advance. By the time race day rolls around, I know exactly where to go. I remember one dream where my friend Charlie and I were supposed to run a race together. He knew where the start was, but I didn't. He was sleeping and wouldn't wake up no matter what I did, and race time was getting closer. 

2) Being late for the start or totally missing it. I've never missed a race start, mainly because I show up to a race very early. I always give myself plenty of time to use the Porta-Potties, stretch, and generally get my head into the race.  In many of my dreams I made it to the starting line only to find that all of the other runners were long gone. In my latest dream, runners were only allowed to register just before the race. There were hundreds of people in front of me, very few people to handle the registration, and it was just a few minutes before the start. 

3) Getting lost on the course or running on a very strange course. I'm a middle of the pack runner, so I follow the people in front of me and hope they're all going the right way. So far that strategy has worked.  I've had dreams where the course went through houses and even one where the course went through Disneyland's Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.

4) Finishing dead last or so far back that the organizers are packing everything away. So far that never happened to me. My biggest fear before my first half-marathon was finishing last, which my running partner assured me wouldn't happen (it didn't). 

5) Wearing inappropriate clothing. In one of my more memorable pre-race nightmares, I was in the starting area and happened to look down at my feet. Instead of my usual running shoes, I was wearing pink bunny slippers!

Pre-race nightmares are a way of working out any anxiety that I may have about an upcoming race. When I wake up from one, I know that the situation in my dreams would not really happen. I also feel relieved about having a pre-race nightmare because I know that nothing will go wrong in my next race. Even though my training for my upcoming half-marathon has been going very well, my pre-race nightmare will give me a little psychological boost.