Run for your life: Final thoughts before the race

COURTESY ART | It's the course, of course, that attracts many runners to the Shelter Island 10K.
COURTESY ART | It’s the course, of course, that attracts many runners to the Shelter Island 10K.

At the sound of the horn, the participants will zoom past the Presbyterian Church on their way to glory.

Yes, this tomorrow afternoon belongs to the runners, walkers, wheelchair athletes and, new this year, stroller people. But there is so much more to the success of our race. Volunteers and spectators play an essential role we should never forget.

Volunteers: Please turn to page 60-61 of the 10K Journal, the magazine inserted in the June 11 Reporter. Those folks are as essential as the pavement itself. With no applause, no fanfares, no credit, these wonderful people execute every aspect of the race and solve every conceivable problem with efficiency and skill. They appear faithfully year after year and perform as if they did this every weekend. They are front line ambassadors for Shelter Island.

Spectators: Our certified race course is exactly the same length as every other so-designed race. But what makes it unique are spectators at every inch of the course’s sidelines. God bless ‘em on Cobbetts hill, in Shore Road’s heat or along the endless Midway home stretch.

It’s great to combine your lawn parties with the race. My challenge (not criticism) to the spectators is make more noise. Pretend this is the only sporting event you will see this year. Noise, not for the lead pack, who I suspect don’t listen, but to the middle and back-of-the-pack runners.

Don’t just cheer for the special dad or new graduate! Every runner gets off on spectator attention of any kind. We appreciate the diversion to banter with you. Spectators, please engage every runner you can and I guarantee they will be back for years to come! If you need a model, read on.

The Spectator Hall of Fame must include Jim Dougherty and his hose at the top of Tut’s hill.

Granted, he’s town supervisor and skilled at talking to strangers. His constant stream of chatter is a major boost, not to mention the cooling spray. And a special commemorative for the late Governor Hugh Carey.

Each year, strategically positioned at the turn from 114 to Midway, there he presided — banging his bell and his repeated and reassuring refrain “Mile to go, mile to go.” I think it‘s more than a mile — but his message was exactly what we runners wanted to hear. Passing the governor was always the highlight of my race.

Runners check list: Pre-race, avoid stress, arrive early and relax on the school grass. Drink two or three glasses of water before the start. Use the toilets early and often. Shoes double-tied (even taped)? Carefully secure your timing chip/strip. Don’t run in anything you have used in practice.

Warm up with some limited jogging and stretching. Break a sweat, but don’t run sprints with the elites. Listen to Dr. Frank. Line up based on an honest assessment of your pace. You can always speed up during the race but too fast a start causes a flameout.
On the course: Be mindful of the heat and humidity. Listen to your body not your splits. Stop at each of the three water stops,

Drink one cup and dump a second on your head. Concentrate on moment; keep your eyes looking 5 feet ahead; plan to be in race traffic at the start and at various points during the race.

At the finish: Embrace the simple joy of now. Congratulations!