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Monday, February 18, 2013
Making final preparations for the big race

By Summer Sanders

Summer on the Run is a 12-week blog and video series that follows former Olympic swimmer and avid runner Summer Sanders on her journey to train for Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 24.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she will share training tips, and a little inspiration, as she gears up for the main event. Use hashtag #GoRun on Twitter to follow Summer and be part of the ongoing conversation.

It's race week. Once you get here, remind yourself how far you come. Although you think you could never forget it, keep telling yourself, this is it, I am prepared!

Aside from building your confidence, declaring this week all yours should be your signal to do a few things:

•  Make that all-important list! Write down what you have for your race, what you still need, and what you've already packed. This is even more important if you're traveling. Don't fight me on this, make a list, and check off each item as you pack it -- you'll thank me later. Make another list the night (or two) before your race, and follow the same protocol, checking things off as you put them in your bag.

•  Stick with comfortable and familiar gear, and stay away from anything new. I have been wearing the same pair of running shorts forever. I'm not kidding. I've been running in these shorts since my first marathon in 1999! They are the most comfortable pair, so I stick with them. Don't be fooled by all the cute things you'll find at the race expo, even if a friend swears by some new product. Those little running skirts -- or skorts -- they look so adorable, but they don't work for me. You don't want to find that out during your race, so wear only what you've tested during training.

•  Pack some clothes that you're willing to part with forever. This includes a pair of running pants, a T-shirt, or a long-sleeve shirt, depending on the forecast. You'll want something to wear to keep you warm while you're waiting. Be prepared to let it go. For the first time in your life, pack something with the intent of leaving it behind, and as you start to run, say goodbye to that old gear and hello to a fantastic run!

When I travel to a race, I usually fly in Friday night if the race is on Sunday and fly home on Sunday night. It's always a quick trip, but man, is it rewarding! At the expo, whatever day you go, walk around and soak it all up. It's your chance to reconnect with the sport and with your fellow runners. Let the jitters set in and fly away; you are surrounded by other people who understand what drives you -- you're in it together.

If you can choose what day and time you're going to the expo, check the schedule to see if there's an athlete speaking or a cool event you can attend. At one of my half marathons, I met Allyson Felix. I was so excited that I asked her if she was running, too. She laughed and reminded me that her races are 400 meters or less. Just seeing her there, and getting a chance to talk to one of my running heroes, lifted me up and made me feel part of a great community of runners; we support and appreciate one another.

Don't worry too much about being on your feet when you get to town, but don't push it either. I am always so excited to check out the big expo and see the city. Meet up with other people you know, and get any race info that you need to put your mind at ease.

Race weekend is always a fun mix of nervous excitement and anticipation. That's part of the experience, and honestly, I love going through all the emotions.

Summer knows that many runners take race day very seriously. No matter your goal, it should also be something you look forward to and enjoy, despite the logistics and inevitably, the pain. There is a very good reason why runners go through this again and again -- it's uplifting, it's inspiring, and it's worth it each and every time. Carpe diem, and savor the moment!