It's recommended to try to get a race in as practice and there was a 12k (7.5 miles) which is where I was at in my training. I found a fun Christmas themed race, which had Carolers at every kilometer, it was on a Saturday and was at 10am. (A great time since we lived farther away). I also looked up different foods to eat before the race and the day of. I made sure to drink plenty of water the 2 days before (I know it's gross to talk about but your urine color tells it all so make sure it is a pale yellow... and of course this should be daily not just before a race) The morning of I had a little bit of orange juice, water, banana and toast. It's good to nourish yourself before, but not a huge heavy meal. There are great articles explaining what foods to avoid and amounts and the reasons why.
We gave us enough time to drive out, but the event had such a great turnout that there wasn't enough parking! I was getting worried because I needed to get my chip and bib still and wanted to warm up and we only had 15 minutes before the race started! Luckily my husband was driving and suggested I just get out of the car and jog to it and he'll meet me there.
Another thing I didn't plan for was long lines to the bathrooms before the race, so maybe on our nice long car ride we'll stop at a gas station before we arrive instead.
The race was getting ready to start so remember your etiquette and find a good place in line for the start of the race. Leave the very front for the more experienced runners. I was probably right in the middle. Don't worry this won't effect your time because if you are running with a chip it will start keeping track of your time right when you go through the start line, so don't think your time is going to be ruined because you are towards the end of the starting line.
Remember what you have practiced and try to keep your pace. You are filled with adrenaline and seeing everyone running with you (or passing you) gets you excited and you don't want to go faster than you planned and then have it hurt you later.
Slow down when it's time to get water. Unless you have mastered this skill, but when I did I kept my pace and spilled water all over my face. I then just would grab a water move out of the way and start walking and taking small sips and throw it out, and start up again.
I mentioned before that I was a sprinter and I have always had the motto, finish and finish hard. So I love to sprint at the end... except for today. I was sprinting but I think it was a little to much because I was doing the dry hacking at the end and was dying to get a Gatorade. So next time I will sprint, but not so hard.
These races provide food so stock up. This race had bananas, oranges, cookies, potato chips (probably to replenish your sodium that has been lost) and water and different sport drinks. Remember if you don't refuel you will just feel sick later on and your recovery will suffer.
So my goal time that I set for myself was 75 minutes, because I knew I was around a 10 minute mile or less, so for 7.5 miles I wanted it to be 75 minutes. And guess what? I beat my goal. I made it in 72 minutes and they even post what your average pace was and it put me at 9 minutes and 45 seconds per mile.
So here are my stats for that race:
I was 326th place out of 1024 runners,
146th place out of 688 women.
27th place out of 134 in my age group. (25-29 years)