One of the things I have always appreciated about preparing for a race, is knowing what to expect. I remember before running my first marathon in Disney World, I had a chance to read a detailed race report of the course. I cannot tell you how helpful it was. I was out there running my first ever marathon and I felt like I had already run this course before. The race report of the course was as detailed as I have ever read about a any race. Almost turn by turn, I knew what to expect.
That is probably one reason I believe so strongly in race reports. In most of the races I run, I usually do a search and try to find a race report or two that gives me an idea of what to expect. Some races are easier to find than others. Disney, well you can find those anywhere. I try to remind myself that someone like me might be searching for what I am writing.
The Atlanta Marathon for 2011 is being run on a brand new date and a brand new course. Because of this reason that value of our pace group runs have been incredible. I have run a 12 mile, 16 mile and 20 mile run with the pace group and we have now run every part of the course. Looking at the course map is very different when you know the way.
If you were to show me a course map of the Disney World Marathon I could describe in detail every section and have a story to go with it as well. As I looked and studied the map of this race it is so encouraging to know the way and what to expect. I know just where the hills are and the tough stretches of the course.
It might vary on the person, but I love to know what to expect from a course and how to prepare mentally. Having done 3 runs on this course and also knowing I have run each mile gives me one less thing to worry about on race day.
It got me thinking about other things. How important it is to know the way? Do I know what makes my boys happy? Do I know the way to their heart? Do I know the needs of my wife? Do I know what is going on with my business?
Just like knowing this course and building confidence. It has taken effort and hours of preparation to know the way. It is like that in everything we do. If you want to know the way, you have to do more than study a map. You have to experience it.
Have I been there and experienced life with my family or do I show up on race day hoping my map has done enough? For the Disney Marathon, I had not run the course but spending time getting to know the way made my experience so much easier. Trust me, knowing the way is usually the less painful path.