Selecting Road Racing Events: A Beginner’s Guide

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Ignore your inner critic. Get active. You belong! Do those sentiments sound familiar? Basically they summarize my encouraging words to you the past few years while I praised road racing.

To clarify road racing meaning distance events like 5ks and such. I want to evade any confusion with racing motorized vehicles. Although I am pretty certain I never mentioned the latter road racing before. Anyway, let the clarity ring.

Entering the road racing scene may intimidate you, especially once you consider your cerebral palsy. Hence my continuous encouragement! I am paving your escape from self-doubt and anxiety. Efforts aimed to enable you to enjoy the same benefits I continue enjoying courtesy road racing.

Nooo, Not There!

Admittedly, I cannot say I enjoyed my most recent race. Saturday, May 12th, 2018 I participated in the second annual Selebrate Moms event, “completing” the 5k portion. Note the quotation marks.

After the 5k began I quickly found myself passed by the other 105 participants. No big deal. Red plates marked the course. I simply needed to keep a lookout for the markers. Here the trouble surfaced.

Apparently I managed to miss a marker because I wound up off course. Likewise nobody seemed to notice my wrong turn. Thankfully I knew the area and I could re-route myself. Re-routing to the finish line oppose to the official path.

Thinking about the second annual Selebrate Moms 5k still disheartens me.  Nonetheless I am also glad the mishap occurred. The situation exposed an aspect to road racing I overlooked during previous posts. Race selection!

Choose poorly and you might feel disdain towards road racing. Consequently you grow apprehensive, second guessing whether you will partake again. Ponder this. My bad encounter happened upon my 14th road racing event. Prior I garnered 13 positive experiences! Reflecting on my affirmative encounters I developed the following advice to aid your road racing selection process.

Make an Acquaintance

Tip number one largely addresses the anxiousness bound to emerge anytime you try a new activity. New usually means unknown which activates nerves. Therefore slowly immerse yourself into the road racing scene.

When picking your initial race, begin small. Many 5ks additionally include a one-mile fun walk. Firstly pursue the shorter distance. That way you make road racing an acquaintance. You become acclimated to the race environment. All without performance worries.  “Am I going to be fast enough?” “Did I train enough?” Hush!

Besides supplying a low pressure atmosphere, the shorter races gauge your interest levels. You can confirm if you possess the desire to pursue road racing more. Personally, my first official mile at the 2014 Inside the Park Home Run event hooked me to where I eventually became a marathoner!

Movie Night Reimagined

With my friend Nate on Progressive Field, sacred land to me!

I completed my first road race in 2014, a one-mile fun walk at Progressive Field, alongside my friend Nate.

Truly the aforementioned Inside the Park Home Run event provided me an ideal introduction to road racing. Beyond establishing a familiarity amongst the previous unfamiliar setting, the surroundings appealed to my personal likes. You potentially know I am a HUGE Cleveland Indians fan. Well, the mile course gave me the opportunity to walk onto Progressive Field! Sacred land to me!

Amidst browsing nearby road racing events, think outside what you deem enjoyable. Highlight events likely to appeal to your friends. Propose participating together. Liken the inquiry to movie night. You determine the film to watch around your individual preferences. Same principle applies to alternative gatherings.

I chose Lake View Cemetery’s A Run Through History event to achieve my first 5k. My younger brother Nick joined me alongside the trek. He finds pleasure visiting cemeteries, thus the reason I suggested A Run Through History to him. Making races friendly affairs helps supplies reassurances. Plus a secondary benefit resides.

Avoid the Gatekeeper

Whatever brings your friend enjoyment probably emanates within a particular hub. Fact the abovementioned already demonstrates. Cemeteries and ballparks contain a commonality. They represent enclosed locations.

Similar locales supply multiple perks. Often these areas feature built-in walkways. Much easier environments to navigate compared to a course winding through downtown streets! I certainly prefer a flat course over the obstacles curbs and potholes create.

Furthermore the settings help minimize the chances you recreate my disheartening Selbrete Moms 5k occurrence. The moment you see yourself heading to the destination’s exits, your mind should cue an imaginative “Wrong way” sign. You must avoid the gatekeepers!

Call an IEP Meeting

After completing the half marathon course for the Towpath Marathon Sean journeyed back to walk with James and myself.

A visit from fellow Team IBB teammate Sean helped to give me my second wind during the Towpath Marathon.

Okay, to paraphrase wisdom fellow Team IBB member Sean previously stated to me, “There are no IEPs in road racing!” His remark came amid conversation regarding my early Towpath Marathon start. An accommodation I requested since I feared I would need extra time surpassing the event’s regular 7am-2pm hours.

Nevertheless the missing reinsurances an IEP offers, reach out to express your concerns. I lacked any former connection to the Towpath Marathon staff. Rather I merely utilized the Towpath Trilogy’s online “Contact Us” form to initially share my anxieties.

Perchance you uncover a race you wish to join and participate. Yet you hold hesitations. Research! Go to the race’s website and seek the organizer’s contact information. Detail your doubts and await reply.

Selecting the Right Road Racing Event for You

Hopefully my earlier advice allows you to confidently choose a road racing event. To recap, I counseled to begin small. Run, walk, roll, or limp your way through a one-mile fun walk. Every stride lets you assimilate to the road racing environment.

Moreover I advised making your participation a friendly affair. Seek races fitting your friends’ interests. Their accompanying presence fuels comfort level. A secondary benefit also emerges when these races occur within enclosed locations. Such locales often feature smoother courses. Plus you remain less likely to mistakenly turn off track.

Despite the above wisdom, you could still feel worried. Then reach out to the race organizers and vocalize what troubles you. By chance you also possess road racing experiences, feel free to add your suggestions below in the “Comments” section.

Until next time, remember. Do not blend in. Blend out!

Zachary

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