Race Fears, a Nightmare, and Lets Plan

I don’t have nightmares often but I had a nightmare last night, where I was running the Tel Aviv Half Marathon, which is coming up one week from today, and things were getting really rough.


The course was very hilly with lots of turns, it was raining and snowing (although it doesn’t snow in Tel Aviv), I was slipping and falling every block, and because it was so cold I was wearing long pants, a coat and a hat.
I looked at my watch and I was averaging 07:00 Min/KM (11:15 Min/Mile) pace, and I was only on the 3rd KM (less than 2 miles).

I know I had this dream because I’m worried about the race.
Sure I’ve done the training, and I start tapering today, but that’s about all I’ve done.
There are things I haven’t figured out yet, and that are making me nervous:

Race course: I hadn’t looked at the race course even though it’s been posted online for some time. To be honest, there’s not much to look at, Tel Aviv is mostly flat. Still, I usually check the course in advance and for my previous half marathon I drove through it to see how steep the hills were. This time I didn’t even check it until this morning, didn’t know if there were some hills, or lots of turns, or anything else that could make it difficult. Now that I’ve seen it, it doesn’t look bad at all.

Tel Aviv Half Marathon 2014 Course Map

Getting to the race and parking: Normally I would drive, but for this race, the parking situation will be crazy, it’s a big race, there’s not a lot of parking around that area, and what parking there is will not only fill up fast but it’s a bit far from the start line. Not ideal conditions, and not something I want to deal with right before a race. So I don’t know if I’ll drive and deal with it, or ask a friend for a ride, or take the train.

Full Parking

Bib pick up: There is no pick up on race morning, so I need to pick up my bib this week sometime between Sunday and Wednesday. Pick up is only in Tel Aviv (read: bad traffic to/from the city, and not a lot of parking), so I will have to go either during my lunch break (which will take much longer than my lunch break) or in the evening with my kids, which means even more traffic/crazy parking at that hour, or ask someone else to pick it up for me.

Cold weather: I’m not used to the cold and I don’t deal well with it. I really don’t want to be cold before the race, but I won’t have the option to dress warm and then go put those clothes in my car since even if I do drive, parking will be far. I might do throwaway to solve that. And after the race I don’t know how long it will be until I can get back to the car and put on warmer clothes.

Cold Weather

Hot weather: I didn’t say my fears were rational.  As much as I’m afraid of the cold, I’m afraid of it being too hot during the race and that affecting my performance/how I feel. The race doesn’t start until 8:00, that means I’ll be running until 9:45, it could be pretty warm by then.

Hot Weather

It will be crowded: There’s no way around the fact that this is a big race, and even hoping it will be very well organized (which is not a sure thing), it will get pretty crowded. The largest race I ran had about 1.500 participants, this race has around 40.000.. I can’t even deal with that number. (OK I just searched for that information, now I’m really freaking out! I thought it was about 20.000…)

Marathon Start Crowded

Bathroom situation: To put it simple, I need to pee right before I start running. It might be psychological but I can’t stand the feeling of an even slightly full bladder while running. So before a race I try to go pee at least twice, once when I get to the race and once right before the race or at least right before warming up. Not sure how that will work here, with 40.000 other participants.

Gotta Pee

Running with my phone: Given the size of the race, logistics to get to/from the race, meeting friends, etc., I will need my phone with me. And the thought of running a half with a phone against my tights is just not appealing.


Have you ran any large races?




53 thoughts on “Race Fears, a Nightmare, and Lets Plan”

  1. I always run with my phone – it’s my music and pace-keeper – so I’ve bought myself one of those little arm-band things to stick it in. They work great!
    The biggest run I’ve been in was 20,000 people… good luck for double that! Hopefully the toilets are in abundance 😉

  2. I ran the TA half last year, and though it was crowded, it definitely loosens up, especially since not everyone in the half starts together. They start you at 5 minute internals according to projected finish time. Also 40K includes all runners, even those doing the 10K, 5K and fun run. You don’t really feel those crowds till the very end.

    1. Thanks for the info! That sounds promising, especially not running into crowds until the end (well, would prefer to not run into them at all). This year for the half there are two start times, with 15 minutes difference between them.

  3. You seem to have worked out all the potential issues which means you can now work on solutions. Dress so that you will feel cold – you’ll soon feel warm once you’re running, just make sure you have something to put on when you finish. Accept that there will be crowds. It might slow you down, but if you conserve energy you’ll be able to make up ground as the race goes on. As for toilets, join the queue when you arrive then as soon as you’re out, get in the back of the queue again. This was the advice I got before the London marathon and it totally worked. Good luck!

  4. It sounds like you’ve scoped out all the potential problems, and you’ve got a few days to find solutions …which in my mind all pale beside the all-important bathroom question. Maybe you could pose as a guy, since their lines move so much more quickly? Seriously, I have no doubt you’ll figure all this out and do great. Good luck!

    1. Actually in the races I’ve been, the line to the girls bathroom is so much shorter because usually there are less women… it’s pretty sweet to go in and out and see the guys still standing in line, for a change! 🙂

  5. holy cow that’s a huge race!! i’ve always thought the Rock n Roll races were huge but they don’t even compare!

    I don’t even try to sleep the days leading up to a race because I constantly obsess about it…

    I’m looking forward to reading how it goes for you!!! Good luck!!

  6. 40k is huge! I’ve done two that were 20,000-25,000. Both were fine because of corrals by time.

    I can sympathize with your race nerves and nightmare. I’ve got my first marathon in 8 days and I’m fighting panic even though it’s meant to be training run. My most common race nightmare is not being at the start line on time.

  7. 40,000 runners is a lot. The NYC marathon had a little over 50,000 last year and it seemed massive. But you’ll do fine. The marathon is not about the other people, it’s about your journey.
    Try to calm down. Seems like you were anxious because you hadn’t done the research. Now that you have all the info, there is nothing to worry about. You just have to work on your breathing and enjoy the experience.
    All the best!

  8. It will work out and you’re going to rock it! Anticipation is always worse than the actual event. Wow though – 40,000 people! That’s crazy! My biggest race had 20,000.

  9. Wow, that sounds exciting and scary all at the same time! I ran with my phone during my very first marathon in Japan. I wore a camelback so it wasn’t much of an issue for me. I just slipped it in the back pouch. I bet you are going to do awesome. I love the energy of large races! My best times have come from those! Wishing you lots of luck!

  10. Wow! 40k people! That is crazy huge. haha sorry don’t mean to freak you out even more 🙂 The largest race I even participated in was about 15k or so. Prior to big races I usually have nightmares as well, dreaming that I over slept, or didn’t finish, etc. You will do great!

    1. I’m glad two more days have gone by, the closest I get to the race and I still manage to sleep I guess is a point in my favor. I know the last couple of nights will be tough.

  11. You will do fine. I always get nervous and you just have to live in the moment. I would love to do a half marathon in Tel Aviv…Sounds awesome!!!!! You lucky.

  12. My first race was the Chicago Marathon with 45,000 people…I know the feeling of a large race. Just remember to control the things you can control and everything else will be. You will have a great race!!

  13. I can relate to your anxiety but in sports, it’s 20% training, 80% your mind. Don’t worry too much. Parking will be fine, a bit stressful to find but grand. Just leave yourself enough time. Weather… you can’t change it. You know you’ll deal. Cold… bring and extra layer. Warm… hydrate more. As for the course, print it and keep looking at it. A sports psychplogist once told me to always memorize the route. It helps you to perform better regardless of circumstancs around you (including other runners). Focus on the goal at hand andon your own running. You’ll be grand! Phone… Not sure if you like them but there are great arm straps. I don’t find them too bothersome. And now, good luck!

    1. Thanks for all the suggestions. I will memorize the route, it is pretty easy, and I’m familiar with most of the area. I don’t like arm straps for the phone but I have good pockets in my shorts.

  14. I’ve only done two races that big – it’s pretty much the same as the small races, just with a lot more people 🙂 Seriously though, they’ll have your starting area marked off and everything. It’ll be a little crowded at the start but don’t waste too much energy weaving in and out. You’ll do great!

    1. That piece of info on your first line just blew my mind! 😉 You are right though, start, run, finish. Can’t be too different.
      I like to start by the side of the road so I don’t have to pass/weave much. Not sure how long it will take for this kind of crowds to thin down, but hopefully by the 2-3 KM.

  15. I don’t do many big races, mostly because there aren’t a lot of big races around me, but also because the logistics are just too much for me. I’ll take a simple to plan small race any day.

  16. I’ve done a couple huge ones! I promise it will be fine if you’ve heard the race has decent organization. I usually pee literally seconds before I go for a run be ause I hate feeling like I need to go even a little and I was able to do that before all of my huge races. For me, the biggest hurdle was aid stations because some people just stand there and drink or slow WAY down so make sure you’re extra aware every time you approach an aid station, I’ve been tripped before.

    1. Thanks, that’s reassuring, did your big races have porta potties in the corral? I think I’m supposed to get in the corral about 15 minutes before?
      I hope I can manage to not drink much during the race, I can imagine how crowded it will be, especially on those streets where other race distances go by as well (there’s a 10K and a full marathon).

      1. They told me to be in the corral early but I got out to pee just before the race went off and got back in with maybe 2 minutes to spare. Each race had 30-40k people and it worked fine in each of them.

  17. Thank you for this! I have a huge 15k coming up tomorrow and it will be, by far, my biggest race. I have been freaking out about it all week. Something reassuring to know my fears are typical.

    1. Good luck tomorrow! It’s good for me too to know I’m not the only one stressing. I told a friend who’s running the half with me about my nightmare and he laughed at me! 🙂

  18. omg, i have my first half marathon on sunday & am so nervous. I’m a bit less prepared than i hoped to be training-wise due to illness & work so thats really not helping!!! your post is reassuring other people get nervous too. Good luck with the rest of your training – sure u will nail it!

  19. I can sympathize with you. I have been through the same experience -that of having nightmares. Surprisingly, the run which i am going to join is still in April! Anyways, you will surely survive (and hopefully enjoy) that run. Good luck. 🙂

You read what I think, now let me read what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s