the art of the water stop

I can put in the miles, nail the workouts, lose the toenails... but there is one crucial part of the sport of marathoning that I haven't mastered. The water stop. I am a complete flail.

Up until this race (hopefully) my game plan has been to stop, screeeeech, drink, and then try to get back into that hard-earned rhythm I just interrupted. This tactic is most embarrassing and surely puts a target on my back in any sort of race for place. Talk about showing your weakness! Not to mention leaving time all over the course.

I've heard people's advice, so much advice: pinch the cup, cover the cup, grab the cup dump 1/3 out THEN drink, crunch the cup in your fist and suck the water out the top (whaaa?) but nothing was making sense. And certainly none of this advice was keeping me from taking in most of my fluids through my nose. That was until I saw Melissa Gacek do a water stop yesterday on 9th ave.

Let me back up one step. First thing in the morning we headed over to the expo to pick up our bib numbers and tees. I wanted to track down cups for waterstop practice. So we hit up the Gatorade girls for a sleeve of cups. I explained my predicament to little miss make-up, not a hair unstraightened. She looked at me like I was legit insane, but whatever. We got the cups and back at the apartment we set up our waterstop practice area on 9th and Wabash. And Melissa schooled me.

Only for the pros: practicing the bait and switch... with added obstacle of child water assistant. 

Melissa does not timidly approach the cup, she blows that cup up! Kaboom! Then one swig and she's out. Everything made sense. Also I realized in all my practicing and listening I'd never seen a pro hit a water stop. Hello, visual learner! This shit should be on youtube. Or Instavideo....

Yes, we accosted two Chicago strangers for clip 2. And obviously Gacek is the one to watch for pro-style tips. Not me. I look like a timid deer approaching a river in that clip..

Things I learned:
1. Drinking the whole cup is not the point. You're just looking for a gulp.
2. Don't stress when you miss one.
3. Show the cup who's boss, just blast through, what's left is left. Gulp it and get on with it.
4. Breath out, in, grab cup, gulp, breath out.

I'm going to practice a few more times today to be sure it's out of my mind.

As a bonus Melissa also taught me what to do about gels. Just pin 'em to the bottoms, tuck 'em in the waist band.

Fortunate to have a pro, 2:44!, marathoner Melissa as my roomie. Who's nice enough to show me the ropes. Bring on the adventure!


  1. That instagram made me smile so much. You've got this and good luck.

    That is a really clever idea about the sports gels. I was just going to stuff them all into my sports bra.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts