Q: How do I make a water stop without spilling the water all over myself?

This question was actually texted to me by a good friend, Taylor Doe.  I friggin love technology

Taylor is a schoolteacher from Colorado.  We met during an audition for our college a cappella audition (yes, I sang a cappella, and I’m damn proud of it), and we became fast friends.  Taylor just completed her first half marathon, the Disney Princess Half, in February, and though she’s a devout worshiper of the Church of the Boston Red Sox, we’ve been able to put our differences aside and continue in harmony.

Taylor Doe
Taylor Doe

So onto the question!

I’d be lying to you if I told you I’ve completely mastered the art of the water stop. (For those of you new to racing, the water stop is a table, usually staffed by race or community volunteers, who hold out dixie cups of water, and sometimes Gatorade, for runners of a race. The more miles? The more stops!) A few factors make the water stop difficult. One, you never are quite sure what side of the road the stop is going to be on. Once you figure it out, there isn’t a blinker tattooed on your butt, telling the runners behind you you’re switching lanes, so it can be kind of a cluster moving over without tripping up someone behind you.  Two, once you get there, a little girl is handing you this cup of water that you’re supposed to drink while jogging?  And then you try to politely litter while a disgruntled Boy Scout glares at you from behind his ice scraper that’s doubling as a dixie wax cup scraper by tossing it gently onto the nearest sidewalk.  It’s tricky!

So here’s what I figured out.  When you’re racing and you’re trying to get water at a water stop:

Try and look ahead to see where the stop is.  The further out you have it figured out, the smarter you can be about getting over to the table.  Then, reach your hand out and firmly grab the water.  That sounds ridiculous, but you totally have to commit.  If you don’t you may end up spilling a cup of water all over a little girl in 50-degree beach-windy weather.  Like I did. 😦 If the cup is too full for you to take a shot, dump a little out on the ground, slightly crumple the cup, and toss it back like a shot.  Commit to it, or you’ll choke.  If you need more?  Grab another cup, and do the same.  But there is nothing more miserable than trying to toss back a cup of too-full water or Gatorade.

My last bit of advice?  Turn your shocks on while you’re cruising the water stop.  What I mean?  This isn’t the time to start galloping about like a great big horse.  Smooth your jog down, and commit to that cup!  

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2 thoughts on “Q: How do I make a water stop without spilling the water all over myself?

  1. Water stops are the only times during races where I stop and walk. I figure it’s more worthwhile to stay hydrated and give your legs some brief respite than to bank an additional six seconds. The crumpling is definitely smart. I push the rim inwards so it’s a long oval, then roll the top like a tortilla so there’s only a small spigot through which it can escape. Then you can carry it with you until the next aid station should you want.

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