Forget about Mother Nature; what if you are the problem? Due to poor planning, traffic, getting lost, etc., you find yourself arriving on race site much later than you'd hoped. You can fix this situation by working backwards from your race start in your head and eliminating all your "want-to-do" items such as: stretching, warm up, early seeding, etc. Focus on the critical stuff such as last minute fuel, getting your gear on and settled and taking care of any last minute issues first. You can warm up as the race starts, but you can't get dressed after the race starts!
The Bathroom "Break"
It turns out that the red hot chili sampler platter isn't the ideal pre-race meal. Now it's race morning and you have to take care of your body. This is non-negotiable. In the modern-day era of chip times, your personal race won't start until you cross that starting line. Take a deep breath and focus on getting your body in as good a place as possible. Ideally you'll be able to get rid of most of your pre-race food with an early morning trip to the bathroom. Sometimes coffee helps with this.
If not, consider something like Tums (with water) to neutralize the situation. If you want to go nuclear and take something like Immodium, know that while that means no potty breaks it doesn't mean that your tummy will feel any better...do what feels right and just try to make the best decisions when eating!
Mid-Race ChangesThe Pace is Forced
You've been training at your goal pace for a few weeks now, and it's always felt natural. Today in the race, it's just not there. For whatever reason, you can't run 8:30 minutes/mile, but you can sit on 8:35 minutes/mile no problem. Don't fight the pace; your body is sending you messages for a reason. Settle into what feels right for you. A marathon is a long way to go, and there will ideally be opportunities where you can pick up the pace later in the day. But fighting it now only means that you'll have a very long day ahead of you should things go south.
You hit mile 14 and suddenly your beloved strawberry-banana gel packets are your mortal enemy. You are burping like mad, can't take in your food, and have a ways to go. Don't panic. The easiest way to solve a nutrition problem is to slow down. SLOW DOWN. Ease off the gas and sip a bit of water to facilitate the absorption process. Better to take two minutes now than have to take the final 10 miles off because you imploded.
If you can't use or have lost your personal nutrition, it's time to turn to what's on the course. Consider the sports drink there, with some water at each aid station until your stomach gets under control. Once things have settled, you can try to eat something else (with water), and just continue to monitor your body.
ConclusionProblems happen to the best of us. Whether you brought it on yourself or are the victim, it doesn't matter. Save the pity party for later. Ignoring the problem isn't a strategy; it's a coping mechanism. Pretending your problem isn't there won't make it go away. In fact, it will most likely lead to other more complicated issues.
Your top priority should be to adapt to race-day changes so that you can get back to the business of running.Sign up for your next race.