Don’t Forget These Half Marathon Race Day Tips

By Janelle @ Run With No Regrets | running tips

Mar 08

I’m so excited to be running my first half marathon of the year, the Rock ‘n Roll DC Half Marathon!  While I’m mentally preparing for this upcoming race, I thought it would be a geat time to share some race day tips, especially for half marathon runners!

I’m joining in the Race Day Tips linkup hosted by You Signed Up For WHAT?!, Running on Happy, Brooklyn Active Mama, Organic Runner Mom, and Coach Debbie Runs.  Keep reading to learn some helpful race day tips, including a few from me that are so easy to forget until it’s too late!

I’m also linking up with Susie, Debbie, Lora, and Rachel for the Running Coaches Corner and Annmarie, Nicole, Jen, and Michelle for Wild Workout Wednesday!

Have you ever run a half marathon? Here are some tips for the big day! Check out more running tips at!

Half Marathon Race Day Tips

I’m so excited to be heading into my tenth(!) half marathon this weekend!  Over the years, I’ve realized that there are a few details about race day that I always seem to forget, so I thought I would use this opportunity as a reminder to myself as I prepare for RNR DC and for anyone who is getting ready for a race!

These tips are especially key when running a half marathon or longer race because there is usually a larger number of race participants that can make logistics a bit more complicated!

Know Where the Bathrooms Are…and Go!

On more than one occasion, I have neglected to prioritize hitting the port-a-potties before the race.  As soon as you see one, get in line!  As the start time of the race draws closer, it seems that the bathroom lines should get shorter, but I’ve missed the start of races due to waiting to use the bathrooms.

The picture above is from RNR DC 2016 before the start of the race.  These were the longest lines I’d ever seen and I had to run to get to my corral! Starting your race in the wrong corral due to waiting for the bathroom can completely throw you off your game. I’ve had this situation happen at the Broad Street Run (10 miler) and the Perfect 10 Miler.  Don’t let it happen to you!

If you get to the race start late and the bathroom lines are too long, try to line up for the potties along the course.  The lines will definitely be shorter, though you may be more stressed out because you’re losing time on the course.

Lesson learned:  The earlier you get to the race, the better shot you have of hitting the bathrooms and maybe even going for seconds!  Don’t wait to get in line!

Make Sure You Have a Meeting Place with Family

It’s so funny how you can plan every single detail of a race and forget one of the most important things – how to meet back up with your family!

It’s wonderful when you have the support of loved ones cheering you on at a race.  The last thing you want to do is have a chaotic situation where you finish the race, your phone dies, you don’t know where your family is, and there’s no agreed-upon meet up point.  When I ran the Love Run Half Marathon Relay with Bret last year, we had some issues finding each other after the race and it was pretty stressful trying to find him through thousands of other people.  And unfortunately, we had the same problem at the Broad Street Run last year as we tried to meet up after both finishing the race.

There are lots of great races like Disney Princess and Rock ‘n Roll that have designated meeting areas for people to get together post-race.  Take advantage of that and make sure you’re as specific as possible!  And provide your cheering squad with tracking information if it’s provided by the race so they’ll at least know when you’re finished!

Lesson learned:  Decide your SPECIFIC meetup point in advance and sign up for runner tracking as a back up!

Make Plans for Your Post-Run Meal

Monti Christo French Toast with a bloody mary

I have to be honest:  After a long race, my brain usually doesn’t work very well.  I’m not in the right mind to make suggestions on where to eat after running all the miles and burning all the calories.  So it’s best, to once again, plan in advance!

You may also like:  The Perfect App for Mother Runners: Many Happy Miles

Since I’m running in DC, I’m fortunate to have lots of options for places to eat, but it’s also a problem because thousands of other people will have the same ideas!  Having reservations is a HUGE stress reliever, and can even be motivation for you on the course!  Any brunch ideas out there from those who live in the DC area?

After the Philly Marathon, we wanted to go to one of my favorite places for brunch but it was packed.  We ended up having a decent meal somewhere else, but I was kicking myself for not making a reservation. It took SO much longer to get something to eat…not good!
 Lesson learned:  If you make reservations for your post-race meal, you eliminate a lot of stress and hanger!

Goals for the Rock ‘n Roll DC Half Marathon

I’m very excited to run my first half marathon of the year, the Rock ‘n Roll DC Half Marathon!  I had an amazing time at this race last year and I hope to have another great experience in 2017!  Here are my goals for the weekend:


First of all, I’m going to make sure that I plan to follow my 3 tips that are in this post!  I’ll be heading down to DC on Friday so I’ll need to go to the Race Expo and pick up my race packet.  Then I plan to relax as much as possible and have a good meal before race morning!  Most likely, I’ll be using the Metro to get to the race start, and since it starts at 8:30 am, I need to give myself plenty of time to settle in and warm up!

Racing Strategy

My first goal race of the year isn’t until the Love Run Half Marathon happening at the end of March, so the Rock ‘n Roll DC Half will be used as a tune-up race where I can practice my pacing.  Much thanks to Coach Laura for providing me with the strategy below:

  • Warm up with dynamic stretches and 5 minutes of very easy jogging.
  • Miles 1-2: Start at what feels like a slow pace (aim for 11:05-11:20/mile). Hold back a bit and let other runners pass you.
  • Miles 3-10: Settle into a comfortable, moderate pace – your long run pace or slightly faster (10:40-11:00/mile). At approximately 5.5 and 5.8-6.3 are the largest hills of the race – focus on maintaining an even effort (not pace) on the uphill and then accelerate on the downhill. There will be rollers for the final half of the race after this; focus on maintaining an even effort and using the downhill to your advantage.
  • Miles 10-13: Treat these miles like a progression run, getting faster with each mile. There’s a hill at mile 12, so ease back on the pace on the hill and then use the downhill to accelerate into a strong finish. Aim for goal race pace here – 10:10-10:20/mile
  • Mile 13.1: There’s a slight uphill here, so focus on taking it strong and maintaining good form and quick turnover of the feet.

I’m super nervous but very excited to see how this race goes on Saturday!  Hopefully, I will be able to execute this plan to the best of my abilities!

Fueling and Hydration

I’ve been a little spoiled lately because I spent my last two weekend in New Orleans and Orlando.  Now I’m back in the reality of winter, and the weather in DC on Saturday is going to be COLD and WINDY!  Just my luck!  So it’ll be very important to stay hydrated during the race.  For this race, I will use the hydration provided at each station on the course.  It’s not something that I usually do, but after going through a really tough marathon in Philly last fall, I know that skipping water stations isn’t the best idea!  I will also carry my trusty Orange Mud Hydaquiver on my back!
weather in dc

What race day tips would you like to share?  Are you racing this weekend? 

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