Race-cations: plan smart

Just one year ago, Karel and I raced Ironman St. Croix 70.3. It was the most amazing experience and the course was ridiculously hard. We loved every mile of the race and we will never forget the entire experience of racing on this island. It's like a mini Kona, Hawaii! 

If you are interested, I dedicated 10 blogs to all things St. Croix, starting with our travel to the race, our race week experience, our race report and post race. 

As athletes, traveling is part of the racing experience. Eventually, you will be "forced" to travel outside your community or state to race in an event. You may be racing in a national or world qualifier race or the national or world championship. Or you may be racing in a really awesome destination as a bucket-list race.

Traveling for a race should be a fun, exciting and memory-filled time for you, your friends and/or family. But let's be honest, there are so many unknowns and logistics when it comes to traveling and racing in a place outside of your home environment.

Its important that if you are planning a race-cation, you think about all logistics, the race course and the timing of the race. Race season planning is important so if you line-up a race-cation on your race season plan, make sure the course makes you really excited to train for it but also you feel mentally prepared to race on the course. It can be an exciting and scary experience to race in an unknown location on a course that you have never experienced before and every athlete will handle a race-cation differently. Don't let the fear of racing somewhere new keep you from enjoying your training journey. 

Always make sure that when you sign up for a race, you feel confident that you can put in the minimum amount of work necessary to train for the race. The reason why I put extra emphasis on making sure you can train for a race-cation is because there is an added stress to traveling for a race and well, it costs a lot more money than just traveling a few hours down the road for a one or two day trip race. This mental stress can affect you physically throughout your training cycle, on race week and even on race day so it's important that you and your family/friends understand with your commitment to training and the race location that you are selecting is not too intimidating for your current skills/fitness. Remember that a race-cation should be a fun experience and because every athletes wants to finish their race, regardless of the location, do some serious research about your race course (and traveling to the race) prior to signing up just because you heard it was a cool race or all your training buddies are doing it too. You want to also consider the prep for the race which includes being able to acclimate to the heat (if applicable), dial in nutrition, perfect skills for your course and feel mentally and physically prepared. 

Believe me when I say that just because you have a race-cation on your race plan, life will not stop for you. It will likely cost more money than you planned for and not everything on race week/day will go as planned. Try to do your very best to make progress with your training to feel as prepared as possible and when you get to your race, make sure you 100% enjoy the experience of your race-cation.  

Karel and I are able to make a lot of memories together when we race together but there is something extra special about traveling to a race. We had our first race-cation for Karel's first half Ironman which was 2012 Branson 70.3 and we selected this race because it was a challenging course. We didn't know much about Branson, Missouri but it was affordable to get to and a great time of the year.

We feel so lucky that we are able to race in some amazing locations together over the past Branson, Missouri, Lake Placid, NY, Madison, WI, Klagenfurt, Austria and now this season, Knoxville, Tennessee, Williasmburg ,VA and back to Lake Placid (Karel loved it so much he will be racing the IM there again this year). Then in October, Karel and I will be racing Kona Hawaii! This will be my 4th trip to Kona for the Ironman World Championship and 10th Ironman. Although I feel much less stressed traveling to Kona after three previous trips to this island, this will be a new experience with Karel and myself racing.

I have enjoyed writing blog posts from all our race-cations but also sharing some of my tips for traveling to races.

Staying active and healthy during travel

Going international: travel tips

Travel nutrition tips

What's in my cooler?

Smart Meals for traveling triathletes

Travel tips for the Kona bound

What's on your race-cation bucket list?