Racecation. What is it? The insanity of traveling somewhere far away to run an outrageous amount of miles. So what's the point in making a weekend (or weeklong) trip for a race and how does one prepare for one? I'm about to tell you! Plus, I share seven popular races that are on my racecation wishlist.
I experienced my first racecation in February 2014 when I drove to Orlando, Florida for the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Traveling from North Carolina, I experienced a race weekend that I never could have imagined in my hometown. Greeted with a Health and Fitness Expo which was fit for a princess, I instantly felt connected to the thousands of women who had traveled to Walt Disney World in order to earn their glass slippers (and right to be called a "half marathoner"). I also got to see Disney World through a runner's eyes. After the race, I proudly wore my finisher medal around Magic Kingdom. Passing other runners in the park sporting their hard-earned medal, we would all smile and congratulate each other. I also never got tired of hearing Disney cast members say "Congratulations, Princess!"
If you truly want to celebrate your accomplishment, I highly recommend travelling to a large weekend race. There's something special about spending an entire weekend immersing yourself in race activities and sharing your passion with thousands of other runners. If you've never ran a half marathon, it definitely keeps you motivated during training to know you will be rewarding yourself with a getaway for your race.
I ended up spending a week in Florida after my race. There's so much to do on Disney property, how could I possibly fit it all into one weekend? If you're going to spend a week at your racecation destination, you have a decision to make. Should you start your racecation with the race or end it with the race? In my experience, starting your trip with the race is best. A week in a new place before a long run could hinder your training. It's also challenging to stay focused and fuel your body with the right foods. Arriving the day before the race, I recommend going on a 20-30 minute run to accommodate yourself to the running conditions and stretch your muscles from traveling.
Here are some other tips I have prepared for planning your first (or next) racecation:
Ask about runner's discounts! When I was planning for Orlando, several hotels offered discounts to those travelling specifically for the race (one even offered late checkout on the day of the half marathon to allow runners time to shower before checkout out)! In addition, I shopped at the Lulu Lemon outlet store for some last minute necessities and discovered they offered a 15% discount with proof of race registration. Not sure if someone will offer you a runner's discount? Just ask! Share with me any runner's discounts you have received while taking a racecation so I can feature them!
Don't forget to pack all your necessities. You can never go wrong with extra socks. I highly recommend an anti-chaffing stick. You can even purchase travel size ones small enough to carry on race day. I bring my own mini-breakfast to the hotel, too. You don't want to eat anything heavy before the race, but items such as bananas are easy to store without refrigeration and can provide you with extra energy pre-race.
Make a reservation for one of your favorite restaurants the night before your race. Depending on the time of your race, you may want to make it early in the evening. Make sure you fuel up on carbs and hydrate yourself with a lot of water. It's tough to remember to drink water when you're out of town, so bring a fun water bottle to remind yourself!
Now it's time for me to share the racecations I currently have on my wish list!
1) Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series: http://www.runrocknroll.com/
There are two dozen cities that host the RNR Half Marathon & Marathon race weekends. Of those 24, ten of them offer an endurance challenge allowing runners to receive an extra medal for running a 10k the day before their marathon or half marathon. In addition, this series offers "heavy medal" race bling for those taking on half marathons in multiple cities in one year. I'm interested in Chicago, Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans and Savannah. A five-city race tour would earn the coveted "Roadie" heavy medal. There are also limited edition medals each year with race requirements constantly changing, so check their website for information on qualifying for those medals. If you love bling like I do, The Rock 'n' Roll race series is definitely the way to fill up your medal rack. And for $479, you can register for any of the races in 2016. They also offer a Tour Pass 3-pack that allows you to select any three cities in 2016 for $219. This is a race series that will allow you to discover new cities while doing what you love! Where has your tour pass taken you?!?
2) Nike Women's Half Marathon: San Fransisco, CA October 18, 2015 http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/c/women/events
The most popular women's-themed race in the country, The Nike Women's Half Marathon rewards runners with a Tiffany necklace at the finish line. What could be better than running the hills of San Fransisco with 20,000 other women and receiving a medal you can wear every day? Not much. This race has become so popular though, they have a random drawing for selecting participants. If you're lucky enough to get into this race, it's going to be a memorable one!
3) Disneyland Paris Half Marathon: Paris, France September 23-25, 2016 http://run.disneylandparis.com/
RunDisney announced the Inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon early this year and ever since they have been building the anticipation for their first international race. They recently announced the decision to release an additional medal commemorating the "Castle to Chateau Coast race Challenge." Runners receive this race bling for completing a marathon or half marathon at Disney World or a half marathon at Disneyland and the half marathon at Disneyland Paris. I've never been to Paris, but a runDisney race seems like a good excuse to go!
4) Run and Ride Half Marathon Series: http://www.runandriderace.com/
In 2015, five Cedar Fair parks in five different cities are offering runners the chance to run through the parks and spend an entire day enjoying the thrilling rides. You get FREE PARK ADMISSION with your registration fee! All locations host two day events and include a 1 mile, 5k, 10k, and half marathon distance. This race series is a great alternative to travelling to larger cities on my list. For example, Carowinds is slightly over an hour drive from my home. I can make a day trip, or stay with friends for the weekend since half marathon runners receive TWO day park admission with their registration!! I will be running this race series for the first time in September with the Carowinds Half Marathon. Visit www.runandriderace.com and use offer code BARBIERUNS to receive 10% off your registration! In addition to Carowinds, this race series also visits Cedar Point, Dorney Park, Kings Island and Valley Fair. Who else is running this race with me?
5) New York City Marathon: New York, NY November 1, 2015 http://www.tcsnycmarathon.org/
I would be totally lying if I said I wanted to run this race without the expectation of seeing a celebrity. Ryan Reynolds has finished The New York City Marathon. I would run 26.2 miles for the chance to see Ryan Reynolds. This marathon has grown over the last 45 years to become the largest and most popular race in the world. You can run through the city with over 50,000 other participants! Plus, imagine how much pizza you could eat guilt-free after the race. I don't think it would be difficult to find an incredible pizza pie in this city.
6) Key West Half Marathon and 5k: Key West, FL January 17, 2016 http://www.keywesthalfmarathon.com/
This race has been featured in Runner's World as a top race destination. It's relatively small with roughly 4,000 finishers and features a fast, flat course along The Atlantic Ocean. You had me at FLAT COURSE. I would celebrate this one with some oysters and boat drinks afterwards at any of the local beach bars in The Florida Keys.
7) Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: January 6-10, 2016 http://www.rundisney.com/disneyworld-marathon/
This weekend offers something for all levels of runners. Ranging from a 5k to a marathon, with challenges in between, runners can select various different distances ranging over four days. They can also, of course, select to run all four races! That's what I'll be achieving in January and it's called The Dopey Challenge. It's the runDisney challenge with the longest distance and most amount of races. Most importantly it awards runners with the most amount of bling: six medals total for the entire weekend. Although I've never participated in this weekend, you can read about my experience with registration right here to prepare yourself for The Walt Disney Marathon Weekend. Also, don't forget to donate to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital so I can reach my fundraising goal! Marathon weekend also hosts two Kids Races events with no age requirements. I don't have children, but when I do they'll be running Disney right there with me!
Have you traveled somewhere for a race? Tell me your favorite racecation destinations!