For some of you folks that may be interested in traveling out of state (perhaps, to Boston) or country for a race, I thought I’d put together a list of tips that could be helpful in planning and packing for a racecation.
1) Make a list of everything to bring: A list is super helpful and will keep you organized. I’m a huge list maker and this makes things a lot easier to check off as you are packing. Sometimes I start this list months in advance. I use the “Notes” section in my phone so I can add to it easily and it’s on me all the time when I remember something.
2) Accommodations near the finish or close to public transportation options like subway/metro: This is ideal because then you don’t have to go far after the race. After you’ve received your medal, water/drinks and goodies you want to locate your friends/family. Then you’ll be hungry. After all this time, who wants to travel super far for food or shower or your bed? I don’t.
3) Don’t worry about overpacking: With the inconsistent weather we have nowadays due to global warming (those experts say), it’s always good to bring all types of running gear with you. You never know when it’s going to be warm or when it’s going to be cold. It’s happened to me a couple times where it should have been cold and then it ended up warm and I wished I had worn a tank. Or I thought it would be a bit warmer, but it was drizzly and cold and I could have worn a long sleeve shirt to tear off mid-race. Just be prepared for anything.
4) Don’t forget your race gear: While this may seem obvious, I’ve heard of people forgetting their shoes (super important) or other items they need for raceday. Now, there usually is an expo with lots of vendors selling items that you could buy to replace that missing item, but after training in a pair of shoes that’s perfectly broken in and ready for race day, a new pair is not the most ideal. You really don’t want to run your race with any new apparel that could chafe or ride up on your body in a weird way.
5) Pack your race items in your carry on luggage: This is something I’m overly paranoid about. I never pack my race gear in my checked in luggage just in case it never makes it to my destination. I always carry it on me. Because if it does get lost, you don’t want to resort to having to buying all new gear (as mentioned in #4).
5) Bring snacks and food from home: Seriously, if you can bring snacks with you, you will be glad you did. When you travel to another country, you never know what they have at the corner store or grocery store. You may think they will have something similar to what you eat before a race, but you can’t guarantee that. Bring bagels, KIND bars, or whatever pre-race foods your body is used to. I bring a large zip lock bag full of treats just in case I’m hungry when I’m traveling, because we all know runners are hungry ALL the time. I will bring trail mix, almonds, KIND bars, protein bars, pretzels, and I always pack some packets of Emergen C.
7) Research your carb loading places before, if you can, or in the first day or two of your trip so you aren’t scrambling on the night before the race: Whether you like pasta or pizza or whatever it is you prefer the night before a race, do a little research on what restaurants will be in the area you are staying. You don’t want to travel too far from your accommodations, if you can help it, and you don’t necessarily want to go where everyone else is going. There will be long waits and who wants to wait to carb up? Not me! Doing the research ahead of time will definitely help.
9) Go to the Expo on the day it starts: If you can get to the Expo on the first day it starts, I suggest this for a couple reasons. One, you can get it over with early on in your trip and not have to stress about it right before race day. Two, if you go on the first day, there are generally less people to have to walk around. Three, if you are looking for merchandise to purchase from the vendors, there will be more sizes to choose from on the first day.
8) Stay off your feet, if you can, for most of the day (or at least half the day) on the day before the race: I know you’re on vacation too and want to sightsee, but you still need to stay disciplined. This will help with fatigue. You don’t want to tire out those legs the day before a race. This could make your legs feel tired on race day too. Keep those precious extremities rested and ready for a good race!
10) Safety pins: Bring some extras in your toiletry bag or somewhere in your belongings just in case you forget to pick up some at the Expo or THEY forget to give you some. You need to pin that badboy (your bib) to your shirt, so this is an important item to have handy. I’ve been to race expos where they didn’t have safety pins out and was scrambling later looking for extras.
11) Game plan for meeting friends or family at finish: With a race of 20,000-40,000 there is going to be chaos at the end of the race. If you can come up with a plan on where to meet (a coffee shop, a bar, a “family meeting area”) then you will be better off and feel less stressed at the end of the race. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming trying to get through all the masses when you just want to find a familiar person and you are hungry. Make it easy on yourself and your loved ones after the race. I’ve been in situations with no cell reception or I couldn’t find the person(s) I was looking for and it can make for a depressing couple hours.
12) HAVE FUN!!: Uh, duh!