However, since becoming a mama five years ago, I can't help but giggle while reading through the race-weekend prep stories. For me, racing - and more importantly, prepping for the race, is nothing like they suggest to their millions of readers these days.
Here's my run-down of race weekend prep, mama style:
The "experts" (RW) say: During taper time, make sure you get extra sleep. Go to bed earlier, sneak naps in during the day. Use the time to prep your body for the race.
Mama Runner (me) says: Try not to feel guilty at the mere thought of sleeping while the kidlets rest during naptime. Have every intention to take that nap, but then get distracted by work - nap-time is work time for me, folks! - and the fact that I just brewed another yummy cup of coffee and I have too much on the to-do list to work through in 2 hours, 4 minutes, give or take 10 minutes.
At night - when the kidlets finally go down - my bed sure does sound delightful, but it's the first time I've been able to think quietly all day, let alone touch the mountain of laundry in the basement and just as tall pile of dishes in the sink. (Side note: I'm also blaming the Royals this week of little to no sleep - history is in the making here, folks, and I just can't go to bed when our lovable losers are actually winning for the first time in 29 years!)
The experts say: In the week leading up to the race, make sure you don't try any new foods. Stay hydrated - drink more water than you're used to. Plan out your meals, especially two days leading up to the event.
Mama Runner says: PBJ's sound like carbo-loading to me, especially the extra bread crusts that my kids refuse to eat. And does one to two cups of water for every one cup of coffee count as hydrating? Don't worry - I'll make sure to stick to my usual pre-race meal of potato soup and grilled cheese with some apple slices on the side.
The experts say: Don't spend too much time at the Expo. Pick up your packet and leave as soon as you can to get home, get your feet up, and rest the day before the race. If you're anxious, go out easy for 15-20 minutes to run it off.
Mama Runner says: Drive an hour with both kidlets in tow to the Expo while hubs stays home to work. Dig through stale bunny grahams, crumbs, and dried up baby wipes in every corner of the minivan to find a quarter to pay the parking meter. Bribe kidlets with fruit snacks and flavored coconut water while walking the 15 minutes from the parking lot to the Expo building. Chase after them between booths and underneath tables while trying to snatch up a few running deals and items, all while making sure I do in fact have my bib number and the chip matches my number. (I count that as my easy 15-20 minutes of shaking out the legs pre-race day).
The experts say: Lay out your race outfit the night before. You most likely won't sleep well, but set your alarm and get to bed at a decent time so you're ready to go on race morning.
Mama Runner says: Do a late night laundry load because I realize my go-to race day Athleta skirt is still dirty from last week's long run. Lay out dress clothes for the kids so hubs has an easier time getting them ready for church on his own without mama there. Set iPhone alarm....set alarm clock. Toss and turn throughout the night wondering if I charged my Garmin or iPod Shuffle.
The experts say; That morning, give yourself plenty of time to get hydrated, have a light breakfast, and pack up extra belongings before taking off. Arrive at the race at least an hour beforehand to get the lay of the land, stand in line at the port-a-potties, and make your way to the start line.
Mama Runner says: Wake up to a blaring alarm and try to remember to body glide myself and put on deoderant. Pack up the coffee, water, and Nuun with a banana and kid-sized granola bar from the snack bin and race out the door. Gulp down breakfast and fluids on the drive there. Arrive later than planned, but hoping there's enough time to get to the port-a-potty. Getting to the start line is victory in and of itself.
The experts say: Embrace the race. Don't start out too fast, and take some time to get into your rhythm. Chunk out the race into segments so it doesn't seem so daunting. Finish strong, with a smile, so the photog can capture your memory.
Mama Runner says: Start out guns-a-blazing and then realize at about Mile 2 I'm going way too fast. Spend the next few miles thinking about hubs and kids and hoping they're good back home and that Jack takes them both potty before church and that he remembers toddler's change of clothes and emergency dipe/pull-up just in case. And then I think about how much I miss my family and being at church with them. At Mile 10, realize the body is tired and there's another 5K to go. Sludge through the last three miles toward the finish line, where I try to suck it all in and smile at the same time since the photog will blast the pic all over the social media world.
The experts say: Post-race, enjoy the services and food around you. Savor the victory - you did it!
Mama Runner says: Grab a few post-race treats, towel off, and run straight to the minivan to race back home (Starbucks trip first!) and beat the family home to make them lunch so I can hear all about the church lesson and how the morning went without me there.
My race week rituals and prep sure have changed over the years. But I wouldn't trade it for anything - I love my running buddies (big and small!).
Happy race weekend, mama runners!