It’s race day morning, and you’re fired up!
Your training didn’t go quite according to schedule, but you took my advice and left enough lagniappe to take care of it. You’re trained and ready, and excited to be going in for your first really big race.
You set out all your gear the previous evening to be ready for your big day. The start is at 8:00 am, and you have been told to be there by 7:30. It’s an hour’s drive, but with 50,000 runners arriving at 7:30 you decided it would be safer to leave at 6:00.
To give yourself plenty of time to get a snack and a bathroom break, you got up at 5:00 am. Now it’s 7:45 and you’re in the line getting ready for the start. Being a middle-of-the-pack runner, you’re in group #23 of 50. (Sometimes these are called “corrals” or “carousels” or some other name, but I’ll call them groups for today.)
The excitement builds, your adrenaline is kicking in and you’re getting thirsty. You drink another bottle of water as you listen to all the build-up. Now it’s 8:00 am, and the elite runners are off!
Suddenly you realize that you need another potty break. The excitement, the water you drank, the unfamiliar routine have all conspired. You realize that a diarrhea attack may be coming and you might need to find a porta-potty fast.
You’re embarrassed, but don’t be! It happens to the best of us. Poor Paula Radcliffe got caught during a race (with no porta-potty) and, of course, a press photographer could not resist really embarrassing her.
But the race has started, and your group is moving up fast. What to do?
First, calm down. It’s not the end of the world, but you do need to take care of your problem. Your group will probably have gone long before you return, but so what?
These days, big races are all chip-timed, so your time will be taken from the moment you start, not from when your group starts. So, even if you’re not sure if you need the break, it’s better to take it now rather than during the race, when the time out will be included in your race time. So take the break, join a later group if necessary, and start when you’re ready: you’ll be more comfortable, and your time will still be good!
Take care of yourself, enjoy the race, and accept the pre-race jitters. (They won’t hurt, and might even help your performance.)