Thursday, October 27, 2016

Vacation Races and 7 Reasons Why You Need to Have a "Racecation"

Who says you can't climb on signs?  Not anyone here!
A few weekends ago my husband and I packed up our Jeep, took a few days off of work, and traveled north to Townsend, TN.  What were we doing there?  I had registered for the Black Bear Challenge from Vacation Races which was a part of the Great Smoky Mountain Half Marathon.  The challenge included running the 5K on Friday afternoon followed by the half marathon on Saturday morning.  A total of 16.4 miles over a beautifully scenic route in the mountains.  Who wouldn’t want to do that right?  Going into this I have to admit I didn’t necessarily take this race too seriously.  I didn’t train much and hoped my muscle memory and proper nutrition would carry me through the miles.  I successfully completed each run and although my time wasn’t the best, I reached my small goal of completing the half marathon in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes.  Remember, I’m a Florida girl, and used to running on flat land.  Combine hills, altitude and distance this asthma athlete struggles to breathe!  This race was extremely well put together, had awesome course markings, great nutrition stations, and actually played out as an enjoyable event unlike many runs you go to expecting terrible
parking, crowds of people, which causes a lot of pre-race anxiety.  What made this event even better for me was that it was a “Racecation” for my friends and I.  This pretty much means it was a mini vacation with a race in the middle of it.  We were able to plan several months in advance, take a few days off of work, drive up to Tennessee, enjoy ourselves, the cooler weather, the gorgeous mountains and of course spend fun time with each other as we each accomplished our goals.  This is why I have come up with 7 reasons why every runner needs to go on a “Racecation” with a group of friends:


      1)      You get to run somewhere different!  Let’s face it, running is super boring.  We all aren’t running like Phoebe did in that one Friends episode and most of us run on the same streets and trails every day.  Why not change it up?  If you normally run on a road, go find a race with a trail.  If you
Jimmy Hanging Off of A Mountain
normally run on a trail go and get a Personal Record (PR) on the road.  Same applies to terrain! If you’re like me and run in the flat-lands of Florida with the occasional causeway training go to the mountains and run up an actual mountain.  Will it suck? Sure will…but it’s different and your body will thank you.

      2)      You get to spend several days with your running friends!  Even if you don’t classify yourself as a “runner” the fact of the matter is you are.  Let’s be honest, the people who are your running friends can be more personal than your actual friends.  They are the ones you confide with and talk about your pre-race poops, porta-potty nightmares, smelly clothes, and see you regularly with no makeup on, or your hair not done.  In fact, I’ve been in situations before where I would see my running friends while we were all showered up, makeup on, with hair done and we couldn’t find each other in a room without staring oddly at each other.  Combine these friends with a getaway where you don’t have get fancy, can wear yoga pants, and enjoy eating after race donuts together without judgement, you can count me IN!

      3)      The more people you get, the cheaper it is!  Outside of the race registration if you get more people to travel with you the cheaper the hotel or cabin stay is.  In this particular trip we were able to get a huge cabin chalet overlooking the Smoky Mountains with a hot tub outside, grill, and huge
Just Hanging with The Ladies
porch for around $30.00 a person per night.  It can become even less expensive if you carpool and split gas money.

     4)      Since they are your friends they probably want to do the same things you want to!  No need to convince your family you want to go on an adventure hike, canoeing expedition, tubing, white water rafting or anything else you think is fun.  Since you are with your running friends they probably will want to go with you and experience the excitement.  They also won’t judge you if you feel it necessary to run a few miles before dinner or get that one hike in before you indulge in campfire or pre-dinner beers.

     5)      Have I mentioned they are friends and not family?  God bless our family, each and every one of them.  But, who’s been on a vacation with your family (spouse excluded) in which the Aunt was snarky every moment, the Uncle was a persistent drunk, your nieces and nephews were crying the
entire time, and you fought with your sibling in the car the entire ride?  Guess who are the people you choose to be with in your life and do not fall under the obligation category like creepy Uncle Bob who stares at your feet while you put your shoes on?  FRIENDS!

Piled up in the Jeep After Race to Save Parking and Gas Money
     6)      You can seriously justify eating ANYTHING YOU WANT?  Want that cupcake?  Sure, eat it!  Want that big plate of pasta?  Absolutely, it’s yours.  You are going to earn it by running your big race that weekend.  What’s better than indulging in food?  Doing it with a bunch of friends who rejoice at the opportunity to carb load together and make it a big event. 

     7)      Make your other friends have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and regret not coming.  What is almost as good as getting away for an extended period of time with a bunch of your best friends?  Posting the crazy pictures from the trip on Facebook and getting the special out of state Medals that only some can dream about getting.  Sounds mean, but it’s always true.  There is nothing better than a comment that says “awe, I wish I would have went” under a picture of your friends doing something amazingly epic.  Is it shallow? Sure is…. But who cares, you are having fun, living life, getting an amazing medal, and will have the T-Shirt to prove it.  They won’t.
16.2 Miles Complete!


Doesn’t going away on vacation sound great right about now?  Grab a group of your running mates and start planning.  Don’t be surprised to find that many will jump on the opportunity.  I am already planning several out of state races for 2017 and cannot wait.  My only regret at the Smoky Mountain Half Marathon is that I didn’t stay longer!  I will definitely be fixing that for next year’s race.  Check out Vacation Races to find a race in your area.  You will have a blast.

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