My first race-cation experience was this January at the Walt Disney World Marathon in Florida. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved the race (see my previous blog post), but I’m not a fan of race-cations (yet!). Here are my positives and negatives to race-cations (yes I have only done one, but these are my thoughts on that one…..I need to do a few more before I can make a more rounded decision) – I would love to hear if you have anything extra to add to the list.
EXPLORING: Having the opportunity to explore someplace completely new is so exciting. I believe that running gives you the best opportunity to discover a new place. This was certainly the case for the WDW marathon. I’ve been to WDW 6 times, and we were running along roads that I had never had the opportunity to see as a visitor to the parks.
EXCITEMENT: Having a race to plan and look forward to really ups the holiday excitement. For months, well since I signed up in April 2017, I had been dreaming about the race (and the holiday). I get excited about races, but this excitement was different – I guess it helped that this was a bucket list race for me.
EXPO: Typically for a race expo I am in to get my bib and do a quick sweep of the stalls, but the WDW expo was an experience in itself. Housed at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, there were stalls outside, 2 massive halls with stalls, a DJ, photo ops, displays with all the RunDisney medals. This day, which would typically be an in-out job for me, was so enjoyable. And the complex itself is really cool; it was great seeing it before we then got the chance to run round it during the race.
MORE EXCITEMENT: My excitement levels were through the ROOF for this race!!!! WDW is my favourite place ever, I love running, and Christmas is my favourite time of the year. So combine all three and I am one very happy G! I guess I may not feel the same levels of excitement for a non-Disney race in the summer.
PREPARATION: Pre-holiday you need to be prepared, I mean really prepared. Planning for me started months in advance to make sure I had purchased absolutely everything I may need. I had to bring all the layers in case it was really hot, really cold, raining or windy. As well as having to be prepared with all my clothes, I had to pack every single thing related to running that I may need i.e. KT tape, traumacare cream, safety pins, chafe stick, gels, electrolytes, water belt, plasters……the list went on and on and on.
FOOD: Being vegan and gluten free, I didn’t want to take any chances so I brought all the snacks. Pre-race snacks, post-race snacks, all the snacks. I liked the comfort of knowing there were things I could eat without the stress of having to purchase some at the resort.
PACKING: Once you have everything that you want to take, there is the stress of working out what needs to go in hand luggage because it can’t be replaced before the race (i.e. if it gets lost along the way), and what you can risk packing in the checked bag. As it turned out, our Toronto to Florida flight was so busy that I had to put our hand luggage suitcase in the hold, and it was a nerve-wracking 90 minutes waiting for that case to come around on the carousel at the other end!
PRESSURE: It felt like there was way more pressure on this race. Not only are you paying for your bib, but there are flights and hotel costs on top. I have only once had to sell my race bib, and it was such a pain just selling that. Knowing that we had spent $$$ on a holiday around this race made me feel the pressure not to be injured or sick come race day.
RESTING: Typically, for a long race I rest up completely the day before (and the day after), staying off my feet as much as possible. Before my first marathon I was either in bed or on the sofa lying down, that’s how serious I took resting my legs. But when you are on holiday, it’s so difficult not doing anything. We spent a couple of hours at Magic Kingdom the day before the race, but took it very easy, only spending a few hours in the park before dragging ourselves away.
SICKNESS/INJURY/EXHAUSTED: If you get sick, injured, or exhausted after the race it’s not fun for the holiday part. Unfortunately for the WDW marathon, I got two of these. I hurt my foot a month before the race, and although the pain had gone away, on race morning it must have known the torture I was about to put it through. I managed to do the race but for the last 2 weeks I have been limping/in pain. It’s ok at home, but when on holiday it’s really not fun. We also both got sick with the flu – a lot of runners did that weekend. So we spent most of our holiday after the race in bed unable to visit the parks – not fun at all. I’m still super sad that we missed so much of our holiday; we’ll just need to head back to Disney for another trip very soon.
Have you done a race-cation? Did you enjoy it or are you like me and not a huge fan? Are you planning any race-cations in 2018?
Thanks for reading, G