Preparing for race day? We have been preparing for race day since July, the start of our LA Legger season. Our time is drawing short, and we need to think about our last tasks leading up to race day. Let’s walk through a countdown.

It’s the beginning of February, and we are about six weeks from the L.A. Marathon. What can we do with six weeks left? I assume you’ve registered for the race and know your corral placement. You’ve selected a bus time, purchased parking, and figured out when and how to get to Dodger Stadium. What more?

First, you might try running one last tune-up race. Some ran the Pasadena Half on January 15th . Others are running the Surf City Half in Huntington Beach on February 5th , and others, the Ventura Half Marathon on February 26 th , three weeks before the L.A. Marathon on March 19th . You can use your tune-up race to help you set a target pace and race strategy for the L.A. Marathon. We will cover race strategy another week.

Second, ask yourself, “What are my goals for the Marathon?” Some may plan to set a personal record or meet the qualifying times for other races. For those who have these goals, this is a good time to reflect. How has my training matched my training goals? Am I uninjured? And if you are prepared and uninjured, then go for it.

Unfortunately, if you are injured, the L.A. Marathon does not allow us to postpone or transfer our entry. And if your long lost twin brother or sister runs in your place, please don’t tell me, and don’t claim their time for your PR. And if you are injured, let yourself down easy. Be realistic about your injuries. You can volunteer at one of three L.A. Legger Support Stations. For very light injuries, perhaps you can start and run part of the race. You can plan to run to an L.A. Legger Support Station and call for a ride back to your car.

Others have different goals. For example, you may wish to set an example for your family, to show them how you care for your health. Invite your family to see you run, but you need to set their expectations. If you plan to run past, tell them now, because if your family shows up with a picnic lunch and expects you to dig in, then you had better dig in.

Soon, we will be down to two weeks before the marathon. Here, we taper our training intensity. Do not race now. At this point, you gain nothing more from training hard, but instead, maintain a lighter training schedule. This is a good time to check the 10-day weather forecast. Start preparing your race clothing. It can rain at the marathon, and more often, it can be cold and windy while you wait at the starting line. Pick some old clothes from your closet, or buy some at Goodwill Industries, and wear them to the race over your running clothes. Strip them off before the race starts and throw them over the fence of your race coral. Castoff clothes are collected for charity. You might buy a plastic emergency rain poncho or a mylar emergency thermal blanket, and be sure you dispose of these properly.

The L.A. Marathon Expo opens on the Friday and Saturday preceding the race. You need to visit the LA Marathon Expo to pick up your race bib, safety pins, your L.A. Marathon t-shirt, and your goody bag. There are lots of samples given away and merchandise for sale. You may find something you need for your race, but don’t eat too many free snacks. This is not a time for experimentation. If you can make it, Friday is a good time to go.

On Friday, go through your equipment check list, because you will have time to find any missing items on Saturday. Your checklist could include the following: shoes, socks, shirt, shorts, old clothes, rain jacket, hat, bandana, sunglasses, race watch, smart phone, water bottle, bandages, Vaseline, sunscreen, electrolytes, hydration, carbohydrates, identification, cash, credit card, bib, safety pins, gas in the car, race morning instructions, and three 1-gallon sized Ziploc bags.

Three 1-gallon Ziploc bags? Yes, because, during the race you can pick these bags up again, one at each of our three L.A. Legger Support Stations, which will be located: (1) on Sunset Boulevard near mile seven, (2) on Burton Way near mile sixteen, and (3) on Sepulveda between mile twenty and twenty-four. On the Ziploc bags, using a permanent marker, write your name, pace group, and the station numbers, 1, 2, or 3. In the Ziploc bags, place your favorite energy food, hydration beverage, body lubricant, sunscreen, clean socks, whatever fits in a one-gallon Ziploc.

And the last thing you need to do on Friday? Go to bed early and get a good sleep. The following night will be short.

On Saturday morning, at Tongva Park, our L.A. Legger inspirational speaker will get us fired up for our Marathon. And you must bring your three Ziploc bags this Saturday morning. Place your Ziploc bags in the bins marked for each station. Just as we did in our first timed miles in July, we will all run one mile to California Street and back. See how far we have come?

Remember, during the race, you can leave items behind at the Support Stations, including extra clothing, anything you don’t need to carry further. You need to mark these items clearly or fit them into your Ziploc bag, so you can identify them after the race. Everything left in the bins will be returned at 1450 Ocean the following Saturday, March 25th, and you need to pick them up. We throw away all unclaimed perishables.

After the Legger meeting on Saturday morning, if you couldn’t go on Friday, you still have time to go to the Marathon Expo. When you get home, pin your bib to your L.A. Legger t-shirt or singlet with those four safety pins. In the past, we have given out blank Legger back-bibs to pin on the opposite side from your race bib. We suggest that members write their first name and pace group number on the back bib. On mine I wrote naively, “John 15.” If your name appears in the Bible, you should read that chapter before the race.

We want to see you in your L.A. Legger shirt. As you approach each support station at the race, our members are looking for anyone wearing a Legger shirt. We will have your Ziploc bags sorted by pace and name, and we expect to see you.

Now, it is Saturday afternoon. Lay out all your remaining gear for Sunday morning. Place what you’ll wear in the spot where you dress, and place everything else in a bag or in your car. Read through your race morning instructions. Review the timing for your travel to the race. If you are very serious, write out the pacing timetable for your race plan. If you intend to eat breakfast, perhaps you can prepare it in advance. Set your alarm and relax. When that alarm goes off, you only need to put on your clothes, eat your breakfast, pick up your bag, and leave for the race.

Lastly, every race day is a new adventure, and whatever happens, you are going to be okay.