One day to go. Not much more to be done. It’s just about game time.
Think positive thoughts. You can’t go back and do more training or control things like the weather. Focus on things you can control in the final 24 hours. Think happy and positive thoughts about being out there doing an activity you love (or at least like) with 9,000 other people.
Look at the course map closely. For many of you who run often in Golden Gate Park this is as close as it gets to being a “home course.” As you look at the course, pause to think about what it physically looks like in that area. What will you see when you’re out there? What landmarks can you look for? Nothing makes the miles go by faster than knowing the course. Without going crazy, try to constantly have something you are looking for during the race. This isn’t hard when you are super familiar with the area. To combat the monotony of the Great Highway, I suggest looking ahead only to the next stoplight. The stoplights are conveniently staggered a quarter mile away from each other. It gives you a psychological boost to be “seeing what you’re looking for” every one to two minutes because you feel like you are making progress. If your landmarks are every mile mark, you pass a mile mark, you run two to three minutes, don’t see the next mile yet, and start looking around for it. Then you spend the next two to five minutes looking for the next mile mark, constantly checking your watch, and consequently feeling like you are going to be out there forever! This can be quite discouraging. There is value in having a landmark to look for pretty frequently.
Spend some time visualizing yourself running fast on the Great Highway. Close your eyes and see yourself running strong and passing people. Imagine that it feels effortless and yet you are running very fast. Tell yourself how fit you are. Remind yourself how hard you’ve trained. Tell yourself you can do it. Heck, hum the Chariots of Fire or Rocky theme as you visualize. In high school, I visualized my cross country championship race over and over every night for weeks while listening to “One Moment In Time.” The race played out just like I had imagined it and to this day I have a hard time differentiating what I visualized and what I actually experienced in the race.
If you are nervous, keep this in mind. There are 1.3 billion people in China and none of them (unless you have a close relative there) are going to go to http://zinsli.com/results/ on Monday to see if you PR’ed. I also like to remind people that they’ve trained hard and they deserve to run well.
When I race, I have my game face on. I’m competitive and I care about how the race goes. That’s just how I am. I’ve been told (and the pictures and video back this up) that I get that same game face on when I coach. (Side story: At my wedding reception we had Sacred Heart Cathedral kids helping. Right before we got started Tomas, my assistant coach and wedding reception master of ceremonies, came to me and said, “Don’t worry about anything. Everything’s going to go great. Ethan has his game face on. He looks like he did before the CCS Finals.” As the coach who taught Ethan to have a game face, it was, in the middle of a busy and memorable night, a proud moment.) Anyway, if it works for you, have your game face on. After all, Sunday is the Super Bowl. And you did pay $40-50 to be on the starting line. Why not have that focused game face on that tells everyone that you are about to go out and race as hard as you can.
Good luck, everyone, it’s just about game time!