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  • Post-race thoughts on Fort4Fitness
    The air was cool and a chill traveled up my bare legs as I took that step out the door. A pit was in my stomach, churning. I sauntered to the starting point, giving my GPS watch time to find a satellite.
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In the long run

I was quite proud of myself.

After a morning bike ride to Foster Park, one at a very leisurely pace, and a day spent watching runners through my front window, I had made it to 4 p.m. Sunday without causing anyone physical harm.

That was until I saw someone obviously mid-long run as my aching hip and I, with family in tow, made our way to Parkview Field for Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown. A weekend without logging miles and the irritation in my psoas were hard to ignore as the runner made her way past me. I said hi - always say hi to a runner, or at least wave - and longed to feel the sweat burn my eyes and fatigue govern my final steps.

But my jealousy was short-lived as my attention was quickly diverted to the hydration waist pack she was wearing. While I can't be sure of the brand, the belt that fits a larger bottle, 20 or more ounces, was secured to the front of her torso. It was a positioning I hadn't seen before as I thought the bottle was always worn on the back side.

I pointed it out to my husband as we swung the toddler to the park, remarking: I'm glad she's figuring out how to wear that now.

Now, as in three weeks before Fort4Fitness. Now, as it is the time to figure out how your race day will go before you actually race.

It's advice that many runners will give to first-timers but it's a good reminder to anyone taking on a distance race. Practice, practice practice.

Outfit. About a month before a race, I find myself (guiltily) browsing performance wear websites in the search for the perfect race day outfit. Maybe that Oiselle top with "Fly" burned out will make me actually fly, I think as I click. Looking good in a running skirt will no doubt help me feel good and thus run better. Truth is, though, that a new outfit is the last thing you need to wear - trust me. I wore a running skirt for the Wisconsin half marathon, having only worn the skirt for shorter distances, and my thighs barely survived to show the tale.

If you want something new, buy it now and wear it before the race - and multiple times if possible.

Shoes. Runners training for a half marathon can log some serious miles over the course of 12 weeks. If you are getting close to 350 miles, think about getting a new pair of kicks to break in for race day. The folks at Three Rivers Running Company posted on their Facebook page today suggesting to do it this week. Also, now is not the time for a new make or model - stick with what has worked.

Fueling. If only I could figure this one out, I would be a millionaire. Anyway ... I have a great (or not so great) habit of fueling less during training and hoping that the extra Gu during the race will give me just the push I need. Beware, though, as an extra gel might give you a push ... straight to the portable bathroom. Practice what you plan to do race during your last really long run to make sure all systems are on board with your strategy.

Course. Maybe it's just me but I like to know the course a bit. Know where the hills are, get a feeling for how tight the tangents will be. Make a plan to include the course on your last long long run.

If you don't want to spoil the race, one of my favorite routes is heading south on Calhoun Street (part of the course) and turning left onto the greenway when it dead ends at Tillman Road. Wind through Tillman Park and take the Southtown path to the South Bridge Apartments. The wooded entrance into the complex is lovely and makes the entire route worthwhile.

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