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.