Syracuse Online


Dr. J. on Running

True Grit

Runner Prepares for Race

Published July 2, 2001 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

He thought about entering other races in the past, but he didn't feel fit. Now, after years of training, eating the right carbohydrates, drinking enough fluids, and wearing the best shoes he could find, it was time.

He completed the entry form. He wrote the check. He left his paperwork on the race director's desk. He committed.

An hour later, he felt the twitch begin in his left cheek. His stomach felt a little off, but that might have been the caffeine. He drank more water and started to think about his strategy.

He remained calm. He led discussions at meetings. He signed correspondence. He held court in the locker room. He pushed the pace during the noontime runs.

Eight days before the race, he woke up at midnight. He refreshed his face with cold water, took a deep breath, and stumbled back to bed.

Seven days before the event, he sought out the race director. Perhaps he could withdraw his form and volunteer? "No chance," she smiled.

Six days before the race, he wondered out loud about his chances for an age group award. "How deep was the field," he asked? There were plenty in his race. He bought a new pair of running shoes.

Five days to go and the weather forecast clouds and mild weather. The twitching in his cheek stopped. He made sure to eat his daily banana and sipped energy drinks between meals.

With four days left, he started to taper. He made more trips down the hall and drank more water, which caused more trips down the hall. By this time, his coworkers discovered his plans. They offered him words of encouragement and challenged him to go for a P.R.

Three days left and he realized he didn't know how to get to the start of the race from the parking area. Another visit to the race director eased his mind. He ran at lunchtime and decided to take the following day off from running.

The day before the race, he laughed with subordinates and challenged his superiors. His coworkers smiled in response to his newfound attitude.

On the eve of the race, he knew he was ready. He ate dinner and laid out his clothes for the morning. He rechecked the race instructions. He found the course map, and went to bed early. He was asleep by nine, dreaming about how he would take every curve in the road, and cross the finish line in victory.

He awoke on race morning feeling great. With a song in his heart, he drove to the school, found his place in line for the packet pick up, and cheerfully awaited his turn.

"Sir," said the race volunteer as she handed him his packet. "Have a good run, and remember, this is a one-mile fun run. So go out there and have a good time!"

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at

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