After posting my slowest half marathon time at last year’s SeaWheeze, I decided this year (see my full SeaWheeze recap here!) that I would train more seriously for the next race and also benefit from knowing more about the course (so much fun stuff to photograph) and weather this time around.
Training in an Arizona summer for a summer race elsewhere is not always easy and it nearly always involves a treadmill. So, I sucked it up and trained better this year and — surprise! — ended with a much better time. Here were the changes I made that YOU can follow when traveling for your next race.
1. Book an earlier arrival.
Last year I arrived Friday afternoon for a Saturday race. This year I arrived Thursday afternoon. BIG difference. You walk a lot in Vancouver, and I think the extra day helped! Also it’s even more important if you have a long flight or are changing time zones. I also scheduled an afternoon massage after the race so that the following day we could be active again and hit the ground running. Er, walking.
2. Improve your nutrition.
This year I cut way back on sugar and alcohol in the weeks leading up to the race. Nothing extreme. I’m not a big drinker to begin with, but no more mid-week glasses of rosé either. While in Vancouver I made sure to shop at a grocery story and get some solid, fresh foods in me before the race — which meant planning for breakfast in the hotel room and making sure our hotel had a mini-fridge. Not eating out every meal on the road makes for a happier stomach!
3. Follow a pacer.
Lululemon offers “pace beavers” for basically every finishing time. It was a hot day and I was running with a friend who did not train as much, so we hopped in around the 2:45 pacer section. This ended up being a good plan and although the last part of the race was crowded and rough on our bodies, staying with folks our pace really did help. Plus, if the course is one you are not familiar with, a pacer can help you decide when to go for the final push or advise you on the tougher parts of the course (like the Burrard bridge in Vancouver!) and how to handle them best.
4. Grab some friends!
Running with a friend made a good bit of difference. We pushed each other and cheered each other on. Plus, it’s nice having someone to talk to. I was lucky — my friend Sara also took some good pictures during the race. Traveling with friends makes things a lot less stressful, too! We ALL set our alarm clocks on race morning, and since we were traveling together, we all shared yoga mats, rollers, a few pain killers and stretching advice.
5. Set a goal or two.
Lululemon is all about making goals and the power of positive and direct thinking was on my side. I did not want to be out on the course for as long as I was the year prior and since I knew more about the race going into it a second time, I could really make a solid goal of finishing much sooner! Plus, when you travel for a race, you have a LOT invested in doing well. It’s time and money away from home, which is sometimes all the motivation one needs!
Wanna see how I put all this advice into action? Follow my adventures online on Instagram @katecrowley.
Now, what’s your next race and new goal going to be? —Kate