Race Travel: A Few Observations
Although I’ve gone out of town for many, many races, this weekend’s 10K in New York City is the first for which I’ve actually had to get on a plane. As I’m making lists and packing for my trip, I’m realizing that there’s really no “one size fits all” plan for packing for an out-of-town race, so I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve noticed.
Observation 1: Packing for a running race is so much easier than packing for a triathlon, it’s unnerving. No, really, it is. I feel like I must be forgetting something. Where’s my helmet? Do I have my bike pump? How about my goggles? Oh, right. If I’ve got shoes, my inhaler and something to cover my lady bits, I’m basically good to go. It’s pretty awesome.
Observation 2: Shoes go in the carry-on. Flying to a race means the possibility of missing luggage. Now, there are a lot of things I can buy at the race expo or the day before if push comes to shove, but I definitely don’t want to run any long distances in brand new shoes. If you’re very particular (or superstitious—no judgement from me!) about other items, get those in the carry-on as well.
Observation 3: Get there with time to spare. A friend on Twitter was asking the other day about when to fly in for a race. “Should I get there the day before or two days out?” My heart stopped beating for a second at the thought of booking a flight for the day before a major race. What if my flight is delayed, and I don’t get there in time for packet pick-up? What if my luggage doesn’t make it, and I don’t have time to buy a new sports bra? That’s not even taking a potential time zone change into consideration. For me, if it’s at all possible to swing it, I’ll always fly in two days out (even if it’s a late flight). If I’m driving, the day before is fine, but I try to make a point to get to my destination early enough the day before the race to have time to relax a bit and get a good night’s sleep.
Observation 4: When in doubt, bring it. I always have my entire race outfit planned out in advance, but I generally also have a few variations to account for weather, especially when it’s different than what I’m used to. You know, like New York versus Florida. I’ll bring a few different types of layers, just to make sure I’m comfortable, and I’ll probably bring a throwaway hoodie to wear before the race; I get too hot with long sleeves on while I’m running, but I don’t want to be miserable while I wait!
Observation 5: Plan ahead for breakfast. For this race, we’ll be crashing with FBG Erin and her family, so I know I can pop over to the nearest supermarket and pick up a few of my pre-race favorites. But, when I stay in a hotel with free breakfast, I call ahead to ask when the breakfast opens and what they’ll have available. There’s little worse than waking up super early, all excited to race, and realizing you have to fuel up with something your tummy is not used to.
I love going to races that take me somewhere new, and while all of these observations certainly add a step or two to my planning, I don’t mind at all. But I’m dying to know, are there any important race travel rules you follow that I totally missed? —Kristen