A Race Day With Amber

So some may wonder what goes into a race day for me.  Is there a special routine?  What does Amber do?  How do you manage the nerves and anxiety?  Do you eat breakfast?  Do you have a runner poop journey before a race to share?  Well I’ll tell you!

First I have no adventurous poop stories for you for race day.  Nothing too special.  Race day for me is complex.  A lot of moving parts for me to be ready to get up to the start line.  A lot of moving parts that start way before race day.  It more race week!  

Yes, it starts at the beginning of the week.  It’s the first few days of the week I am focusing on calming my mind.  I try my best to tune into myself.  How do I feel?  Do I need self care this week and what way do I need that self care if I do?  

Sometimes I just need to avoid social media.  Sometimes I need to make sure I connect with close friends to encourage me.  Sometimes I just need to make sure that I eat food that won’t aggravate my stomach.  Sometimes I need to remind myself to keep up on my hydration.

All during race week I try to remain as positive as I can.  I try to use affirmations like “I got this!” and “I’m going to trust myself and my training.” I tell myself no matter what happens on that race day that my overall goal is to have fun, smile, encourage others as much as possible, connect with others and whatever I do never give up.  Just give the best that I can leaving it all out there on the course.  

Another great step I take before race day is I spend the 7 days before the race to make sure that I set meditation and my own personal Buddhist practice to help me stay positive, encouraged, help me to feel centered and grounded.  

For those that don’t know, I consider myself a philosopher who studies and practices Nichiren Buddhism.  My practice consists of chanting Nam-Myho-Renge-Kyo which means “devotion to the mystic law.”

Doing my practice of Buddhism has helped bring the best out of me.  It reminds me that I’m not defined by past mistakes but when those chances come back around I can learn from them to be a better human being.  To me it also reminds me that whatever challenges I have come at me I can defeat them.

Doing my practice daily and even more intensely on race weeks it reminds me of my purpose as a human.  That purpose being one of standing up for dignity and respect.  It brings out my purpose as a social activist.  

Being an athlete is so much more for me than just the work I put in to get better.  Being an athlete to me is about using my platform for stand up for the communities I am in.  Stand up for my disabled community and my LGBTQ community.  

On race week I go back to the purpose.  Why am I running a race this week?  Why have I put in this training?  Why do I run in my wheelchair?  

For me on race day it’s not about the podium and chasing a spot.  A spot would be nice and if I get it then great.  What matters to me is showing people my best.  Whatever my best is that day.  I want to show my resilience, my never give up attitude.  

When I finish a race I want to feel as if I checked all the boxes I needed to check.  Did I do my best that I could?  Did I have fun?  Did I smile at least once?  Did I encourage at least one person?  

I think at the end of a race all runners should be able to check those boxes.  

Written by: Amber Desjardins - RLAG Ambassador 

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