The Final Countdown: What are You Thinking About the Last 5 Minutes Before Starting a Race?

By: Rachel Gibson

The cluster of anxious bodies huddled together at the start line, the air lingering in anticipation of the gun that’s about to go off, signaling the start of something great.  It’s delightfully agonizing, isn’t it?  Standing there….waiting.  So what keeps your mind occupied the minutes before the clock starts and you’re on your way?


I don’t know about you, but when I first started out I used to get really nervous during that time of awkward limbo at the start line.  And when I get nervous I tend to talk to random strangers, and more often than not, my socializing comes out in full-on inappropriate jokes.  I never said I was perfect.


The more I run races the more I realize what a blessing it is to get caught in traffic or show up late.  I once made it to the start line of a marathon 22 minutes after the gun had gone off—what bliss it was to not be standing around thinking of anything, rather, when I got to the start line I just…went!  But more often than not I find myself there in the crowd, biting my tongue to keep from telling someone something relating to bowel movements, anatomical figures that the route creates if you look close enough at the map (ummm, Marine Corp. Marathon, anyone?) or anything else equally inappropriate. 


Some people close in on themselves.  Some people focus on the challenges ahead, readying their minds for how they plan to face it.  I can’t think about it too much or I spaz out, so nowadays I turn to my father, who is always beside me and discuss what restaurant we’ll be celebrating our completed race at.  And usually the gun goes off right as I’m figuring out whether I’m going to celebrate with a light bodied lager or a dark robust stout.  And when that gun goes off, it’s all over.  By the time you get a chance to clear your mind to truly think again, it’ll all be over.




What about you?  Are there others out there discussing food and drink or making awkward jokes or do you concentrate on the task at hand in silence as the runners around you anxiously await the race?




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