Course Preview

in All Posts

Hello, oatmeal.  It’s been too long.


I made a delicious bowl of Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal this morning.  It might be my favorite way to make oatmeal (Oh, who am I kidding?? I can’t choose just one!) because it has pumpkin AND coffee flavors.


C for Caitlin


My oatmeal contained:


  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 sliced banana
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee
  • Toppings:  cinnamon, brown sugar, pecans, blackberries


Course Preview


Fellow blogger Amanda from Modernation is riding the same Century (100 miles) race that I’m doing.  The race takes place in Napa Valley, California on May 23.  Like me, Amanda was a little freaked out when she looked at the elevation profile of the course online.


As you can see, there is a slight incline for the first 30 miles, then it’s mostly flat under Mile 50 or so – when there is a HUGE climb for several miles. 


Luckily for us, Amanda actually lives in California and did a 45 mile course preview yesterday. 


She rode the beginning of the course.  Amanda reported, “It is pretty mellow.  More hills than I thought, but I wouldn’t even call them hills.  More like bumps.  Not bad at all.”


That made me feel SO much better!  Plus, look at all these pretty pictures of the vineyards and mountains.  I cannot wait!





If you’re curious, you can read the full recap of Amanda’s ride on her blog.


Have you ever done a course preview for a race?  I know Kath ran her Half Marathon course the other week as a “trial run,” which I thought was super cute!  Truthfully, I’ve never thought to do it!



  • Heather ( April 9, 2010, 8:54 am

    I saw a girl on another site do a preview for the LA marathon and it was really cute! I would have never thought to do it either!

  • Whitney @ Whitinspired April 9, 2010, 8:59 am

    I’ve thought about doing it, but never have. I think it’s a good idea, especially if you don’t know the area very well!

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs April 9, 2010, 9:02 am

    I’ve never actually been round the official course for a run before (though I’ve run the distance). I checked out the elevation online though for my marathon later in the year – I am NOT getting caught out with mega hills on my first 26miler!!
    Have a good day 🙂
    (Oh, I made two of your meals today – grilled banana sandwich and baked beans/sweet potato – both verrry tasteh 😀 thankyou!)

  • Kelly April 9, 2010, 9:03 am

    I probably would at least want to walk or drive the course if I had never been there before. I never have though. I pre-ordered your book this morning also!

    • Caitlin April 9, 2010, 9:04 am

      YAY! thank you so much!

  • Mary April 9, 2010, 9:03 am

    your oatmeal looks delish!! I was just thinking about having some this morning for breakfast! 🙂 I’ve done the whole trial race before. I’ve run the first few miles of the half course i did in raleigh this year to see what I was getting myself into. little did I know that id be pouring rain (sideways) freezing cold (35*) and rolling hills all 13.1 haha!

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers April 9, 2010, 9:04 am

    I’ve never lived close enough to a race course to be able to preview it, but I don’t know if I would or not- I might want to check it out, but I love the feeling of trying a course or path for the first time, and might want to save that for race day!

  • Jocelyn April 9, 2010, 9:05 am

    Looks like it will be a pretty ride!!! 🙂

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday April 9, 2010, 9:05 am

    Oh, it’s going to be so beautiful to ride Napa!

  • Jessica @ How Sweet April 9, 2010, 9:05 am

    I would definitely want to check out the course beforehand. It looks beautiful!

  • Madeline - Greens and Jeans April 9, 2010, 9:07 am

    Unless there is a section I am really freaked about, I don’t preview the course because I want it to be a surprise! If something turns out to be worse than I expected in a preview I know I am going to dwell on it until race day.

  • Steph-exercise physiologist and artist! April 9, 2010, 9:07 am

    you know, neither have I! I have these little kinda superstitions that decide to come and go. I would probably think I was going to jinx myself or something if I did it prior to. (although if anyone else besides me did it I would think “oh great idea!” b/c I am the one with the bad luck for some reason! ha-ha)
    It is cool that you have the inside scoop though on this particular course especially because we live in “below sea level FL” and other people’s bumps might be like our hills. You have been training though and know how to fuel and refuel your body so you should be good to go come race time.

  • Sam @ Snowflakes and Sunshine April 9, 2010, 9:08 am

    The first 5k race I did was at my usual running spot, so I knew the area really well. Sometimes it’s nice going somewhere completely new on race day though.

  • Whit April 9, 2010, 9:09 am

    When I ran my marathon there were two course preview runs [the first half and the second] and I did both. I liked knowing the area I would be running in and I think toward the end it helped some. I don’t know though. That was the hardest thing I have ever done.

  • Teacherwoman April 9, 2010, 9:09 am

    I think it’s a great idea to do a course preview! Love the pics! Just GORGEOUS!

  • Sarah @ THE FOODIE DIARIES April 9, 2010, 9:12 am

    OBSESSED with blackberries right now. i’ve weirdly never put blackberries in my oats. but im going to change that, like, now, do they get melty (like bloobs) when you mix them into hot oats?

    • Caitlin April 9, 2010, 9:15 am

      i’ve never mixed them in, but i think they would. on the top, they just get warm.

  • Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) April 9, 2010, 9:12 am

    That’s awesome that you were able to get a glimpse of the course! And I would be incredibly excited too…look at those gorgeous views! It’s going to be awesome! 😀

  • Lauren @ Eater not a runner April 9, 2010, 9:15 am

    I think I like the idea of it being a surprise a little! But that does look beautiful, you are going to have a great race 🙂

  • Estela @ Weekly Bite April 9, 2010, 9:16 am

    For half-marathon I always run the course milage several times prior…

    For bigger races like marathons, and half-ironmans, I don’t.

    • Caitlin April 9, 2010, 9:22 am

      you are a baller just because you can say that 🙂

  • jenna April 9, 2010, 9:17 am

    good luck!

  • Jenny April 9, 2010, 9:20 am

    When I saw the pecans in yesterdays post, I knew pumpkin oats were close behind!

  • Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) April 9, 2010, 9:24 am

    Yum, blackberries! I just picked up a huge box of blackberries and strawberries at Trader Joe’s and broke them out this morning. 😀

  • Jessie April 9, 2010, 9:43 am

    Those are some gorgeous blackberries!

    I’m glad the course isn’t too crazy with hills! I used to run the courses when I ran cross-country in high school all the time – it always made me feel better before a race 🙂

  • Tracey @ TropicalHappiness April 9, 2010, 9:48 am

    I think it’s a good idea to scope out the course for major races. I probably wouldn’t for a 5k, but if I were doing something long, I think I’d at least drive the area to know what I might be up against.

  • Matt April 9, 2010, 9:59 am

    I like the course to be a surprise!

  • Therese April 9, 2010, 10:05 am

    I was lucky enough to train on the course I ran last weekend for the last five months. Definitely recommend it if you can because then you know what to expect and can be prepared for it.

    Jealous of the Napa Valley scenery!!! I’d LOVE to the half-marathon around there one day!

  • Midgetkeeper April 9, 2010, 10:11 am

    Looks like it’s going to be a beautiful ride.

  • Nicole, RD April 9, 2010, 10:21 am

    I’ve never done this either, but I tend to run the same races over and over, so it doesn’t change too much 🙂

    Have a great weekend, Caitlin!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) April 9, 2010, 10:21 am

    even though i don’t race, if i did i would TOTALLY look at the course beforehand! i guess i just wouldn’t want any surprises or anything. your ride looks like it’s going to be amazing, i can’t wait to see pictures!

  • Joelle (The Pancake Girl) April 9, 2010, 10:22 am

    Pumpkin AND coffee? Perfection.
    I’m not sure I’d want to try the course pre-race actually.. I think it might make me extra nervous or ruin the surprise. That sounds really silly, I know haah.

    Happy Friday!

  • Deva (Voracious Vorilee) April 9, 2010, 10:26 am

    I haven’t raced before so I haven’t had the chance to preview a race course. I would LOVE to run the Flying Pig half or full at some point in the future. I hoped to do it this year but asthma has been keeping me sidelined a bit more than normal, so I’ve been lifting weights a lot!

  • Kalli@fitandfortysomething April 9, 2010, 10:27 am

    Oh you are gonna love it! Napa is do beautiful . And you are gonna ride great too!

  • Kelly April 9, 2010, 10:31 am

    I always say I’m going to preview the course and then don’t- but I think if i ever did a big race I definitely would just so I’d be prepared.

    Those blackberries look so amazing!

  • Run Sarah April 9, 2010, 10:36 am

    Wow, the course looks gorgeous – what an amazing place to ride!

  • Tonyne @ Unlikely Success Story April 9, 2010, 10:42 am

    I’ve never done a preview, although I thought about it for my first 5k. The 10k I’m doing next Saturday has a video on their website of someone driving the course and they point how were the water stops will be and each mile. I thought that was awesome!

  • Megan April 9, 2010, 10:57 am

    Even though I’ve raced quite a bit over the last two years, I’ve never actually previewed a course by running it (unless you count running the same races from year to year, lol!). I have checked out course maps and driven the route– mainly the half-marathon distance. I’ve found this helps ease my mind, mostly because I become knowledgeable about the terrain. In Chicago, it’s a lot of road racing and often you need to be concerned that you won’t be in a high traffic area that isn’t well blocked off!

  • Mary @What's Cookin' with Mary April 9, 2010, 11:08 am

    WOW! What a beautiful course Caitlin!!

    I rode on Wed and on my way out road really hard… on the way back… wind in my face GUSTING. Really tested me!!!


  • Chelsea (Chelsea's Chew and Run Fun) April 9, 2010, 11:14 am

    I think doing a course preview is an excellent idea. It’s just the same as a test-drive, trying on a dress before purchase, etc. If it’s available, I think it’s a wise way to have a “dress rehearsal” before the big show.

    Your oatmeal looks delicious and gorgeous. I heart pecans.

  • Evan Thomas April 9, 2010, 11:17 am

    Those pecans are droolworthy
    I was thinking about running my providence half 2 weeks before to get a feel, but then I decided I don’t want to run another half until the actual day. Maybe I should just go for a car ride? I guess it’s a smart enough thought

  • Morgan @ Life After Bagels April 9, 2010, 11:18 am

    That was nice of her to share it! Every time you post about cycling it remind me I need to start looking for bikes ASAP.

  • Miranda @ April 9, 2010, 11:23 am

    I have this planned. I am signed up for a try-a-tri for Aug. I am nervous but at the same time when I look at the distances, I’m already there for the run, I run 5.3k (375meter swim, 10k bike and 2.5k run).

    But to be sure that I will be fully ready I plan on going and doing a few trial runs of the courses before the race throughout the summer.

    I suppose it will help with the psychological fear of the unknowns. I hope it will give me the mental edge I’m looking to gain.

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing April 9, 2010, 11:25 am

    Wow that is going to be one beautiful ride!!!!

    Your oatmeal sounds absolutely AWESOME! Those fresh blackberries especially… I can’t wait for fresh berries to come in season around here!

  • Angela (Oh She Glows) April 9, 2010, 11:32 am

    I like having a surprise on the race day…it’s strange, I know, but I prefer to just wait and tackle it when it happens!

  • Sarah-Mae @ Eat, Run, Knit April 9, 2010, 11:38 am

    Mmm… pumpkin oats… I just finished my bowl, am stuffed, and yet still want more!!! I mixed mine with MAPLE flavors this morning (Might Maple PB and some maple flakes as toppings) and it was orgasmic. Mmm…

    I have yet to run a race preview, but I do really like the idea of it and will be for several upcoming races since I know I ‘zone out’ and run fastest when I know my route well!

  • Courtney April 9, 2010, 11:40 am

    Hey Caitlin! I will be at the iron girl run tomorrow if you want to meet up! I am semi-new to the area and would really like to meet new people.

    • Caitlin April 9, 2010, 11:42 am

      hey! i am commuting with three other people and they need to get back to orlando ASAP after the race so I couldn’t organize a meet up or anything. however, if you see me, SAY HELLO! 🙂 I would love to say hi!

  • Lisa April 9, 2010, 11:49 am

    That looks like a gorgeous ride! I want to visit this place!

  • Lisa @ Early Morning Run April 9, 2010, 11:49 am

    Beautiful pictures! most of the races I run are in Central Park where I train, so I know the course like the back of my hand. I think if I was traveling somewhere for a race though, I would definitely want to check it out beforehand, even by car.

  • pen April 9, 2010, 11:58 am

    That looks like such a beautiful century! For the last Half Ironman the I did, I trained on the course a whole lot (it was in my town). I loved that I knew the bike course like the back of my hand when I got to racing. I knew when to push it, when to back off, and just what to expect.

  • Elizabeth April 9, 2010, 12:19 pm

    That will be a beautiful, long ride. At least you’ll have interesting things to look at for 100 miles.

    Congrats on The Swell! That’s incredible. Just a side note: Your voice isn’t how I imagined it. 🙂

    • Caitlin April 9, 2010, 12:20 pm

      hehe everyone said that!

  • Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly April 9, 2010, 12:31 pm

    I haven’t ever done a course review…mainly because I know I won’t be the leader so I don’t feel like I NEED to know it and it can sometimes play with my head if I see what I have to do in advance.

  • Jenn (from April 9, 2010, 1:00 pm

    That’s a beautiful, scenic course! Looks like it will be amazing.


  • Chelsea April 9, 2010, 1:25 pm

    My hubby and I try to squeeze in “pre-rides” the day before a mountain bike race…of course we take it super easy to not wear ourselves out the day before a race. Since we have to do alot of traveling (all over the US) we dont always have a choice but doing it the day before. However, I have found that when I ride a course “blind” I do much better then when I pre-ride. For instance, we were “pre-riding” together on a course in GA and my husband had a little crash going down a pretty big drop, if I had not of seen this I prob would have at least attempted it, but come race day I got to the drop and clipped out of pedals a walked down….like a big ‘ol nerd, and I prob lost 2 places b/c of it! I could of easily of done it, like I had on even tougher courses! So now-a-days I read the course profile, and do an ocasional pre-ride (for big races like nationals), but I rely on the fact that I am confident enough in my training and skills that I can do it no matter what.

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat April 9, 2010, 1:49 pm

    I’ve never previewed an entire course before but I like to practice the chunks of it that I find particularly challenging like the hills or the inclines. I did that for my recent 10-miler and it at least helped mentally prepare me.

    I do like the anticipation though of not really knowing exactly what to expect. I think it makes race day more exciting but that’s just me!

  • Katherine April 9, 2010, 2:25 pm

    Don’t forget pecans in those ingredients! That one hill looks like a stunner- I’m so impressed to see you biking- how do you keep your wrists/arms from getting sore or going numb?

  • Helen April 9, 2010, 2:38 pm

    OMG that race looks hardcore!! Good luck with your training for it. It will be great cycling through that scenery though. So jealous of the great races in America!

  • Tricia April 9, 2010, 3:23 pm

    ahaha! I need those napkins! Do they make a tablecloth too?!

    Congratulations on your exciting Operation Beautiful News too! So awesome!

  • Kristie April 9, 2010, 3:33 pm

    I’m running the Madison marathon this year and since I live in Madison I’ve been tackling parts of the course on my long runs. It’s really nice actually because I know where all the hills are, and having a little bit of familiarity with where turns are and how far I am will be helpful I think :).

  • Kath April 9, 2010, 5:30 pm


  • Susan April 10, 2010, 8:32 am

    Yup, I always do course previews! I’m not the type of person who deals well with being thrown into strange environments – and how else will I mentally obsess over it if I don’t know what’s there? 😛

    That course map isn’t THAT bad. I know that sharp spike looks scary, but long gradual inclines scare me more. At least with steep hills you can see the top and know you get to fly down after. But slow inclines just drag on foreverrrrr….

  • Sean (Learn Fitness) April 11, 2010, 10:08 pm

    I’m just getting caught up in my blogs and saw this one. That profile looks awesome, can’t wait till I get my road bike to partake in challenges like this. Good luck, it looks great, almost ad good as that oatmeal. I’ve added it to my must try list 😉

  • Emily April 12, 2010, 9:59 am

    Help! I have been wanting to try your pumpkin oatmeal recipes and I finally found canned pumpkin at Whole Foods! But- my oatmeal did not turn out well. It was bland and dry. I used the same ingradients, but what exactly are the steps? 🙂

    • Caitlin April 12, 2010, 10:06 am

      you mean the hot oatmeal?

      On the stovetop, combine 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup water and cook on medium high until the liquid is almost cooked off. Add sliced banana and pumpkin. Stirring thoroughly for another minute or so. Add cinnamon and brown sugar and whatever else you want. Enjoy!

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point