Cue butterflies in my stomach and sweaty palms…marathon weekend is nearly here! I’m telling you, this feeling could never get old, and I hope it doesn’t. The anticipation, culmination of training, travel prep, visualizing myself at the starting line, everything…I love it.
Before my first marathon, I had never traveled for a race other than the half marathon I ran in Texas, but even then, I stayed with my brother and was still in my comfort zone.
Here’s a look at some things you may not think about that go into a travel weekend for a marathon:
- Registering for the race. Obviously, this is important. The earlier you register for a race, the cheaper it is. I specifically waited to register for Little Rock at the Route 66 race expo because I knew they were having a booth there, and you typically get a lower rate and occasionally some free stuff for registering on the spot.
- Book a hotel. Unless you know someone living in the city you’re traveling to, it’s nice to book a bed to sleep in the night before running a race of any distance. Most races have host or affiliate hotels. I booked our hotel room back in December, and it is an affiliate hotel of the race and offers free shuttle rides to and from the start and finish lines on race day–this is HUGE! It is a plus to not have to worry about parking near the race, etc.
- CHECK THE WEATHER. Oh goodness, it baffles me at how many runners don’t look at the weather on a daily basis or especially when traveling. As soon as the 10-day forecast is within ten days of the race, you better believe I’m watching it like a hawk. Even on race morning in Tulsa, I stumbled downstairs in the hotel at 5:45am to step outside and check the weather for the race. So far, Sunday is looking might fine in Arkansas!
- Make a list of the stuff you need to pack. Yes, I have to write down EVERY thing I need, otherwise I will not pack it. If it is not on the list, I will forget it and be without a sports bra or socks on race morning. I like to avoid serious public humiliation at all costs. Don’t worry, that’s not my whole list. Oh yes, and this is a trip that will last a whole two days. I pack less when I go on week-long trips.
- For runners, find out where you want to eat before you get to your destination, especially if it’s some place you’re not familiar with. It is advised to runners to ‘not try anything new’ the night before or day of a race, so you wouldn’t want to end up somewhere that only has Man vs. Food portion sizes of food you’ve never eaten before…or maybe you would. Different strokes for different folks.
- Confirm your hotel reservation! This is VERY important, and it’s also a good opportunity to ask any questions to the staff that you may be concerned about. I called our hotel earlier this week and was wanting to know when late checkout was, which is 2pm. This is good to know for slow-pokes like me, plus the time getting from the finish line back to the hotel (via shuttles) would not ensure us back at the hotel by 2pm, so we had to make alternative plans. You know what that means right? I don’t get to shower after the race…hahahaha! I seriously think this is hilarious, and if you saw my whole packing list, you would understand why ‘baby wipes’ were on there.
- Write out directions. I know this is old school, but GPS’s cannot be trusted. This is said entirely from first hand experience and a girl whose family is notoriously nicknamed the “Wrongways.” Just know where you’re going!
I am sure I could think of 100 more things to add to this list, but this handful of steps help make any race experience more enjoyable, especially when traveling. I am not typically an anal person, but when it comes to racing weekends, I like having a plan, sticking to it, and being able to fully enjoy myself sans stress.
Tomorrow I’ll be posting about packing for a marathon, and stuff you may not think you’d need but actually do, stay tuned! I’m going to go have sweet dreams about the frozen yogurt I’ll be enjoying with my best friend tomorrow night, because a good race deserves a froyo send off 🙂