Thursday, December 1, 2011

Racing on the Road

I don’t travel a lot for races, mostly because 1) I’m cheap and, 2) Colorado is a RACE MECCA from April until October, so why go anywhere else?

Since I started running three years ago, I’ve only traveled for:

  • Rock ‘n Roll Phoenix Marathon 1/2009
  • Hood to Coast Relay 8/2009
  • Boston Marathon 4/2011

I’ve got to admit, travelling for races kind of stresses me out. There is too much opportunity to forget stuff. Plus, I like sleeping in my own bed the night before a race and using my own shitter. That’s just me. Control issues!

The other issue is (reference above) I am cheap, so I don't like to check a bag. This means I have to find a way to fit everything into a small carry on bag. I also need to prepare to fight for the overhead space on the plane, usually by spewing trash about there being a bomb in my bag and a gun in my purse. By far the worst thing about carry on bags is figuring out how to not bring more than 3 oz of any liquid. Pain in the ass! Especially because I like to carry a fifth of vodka and lots of Maalox.


I leave for Vegas in the morning. Did I tell you I was going? And, that I refuel with chocolate milk? Sorry if I repeat myself, but it’s the truth.

There are certain necessities that I cannot forget when traveling for a race. Anything else I can buy or steal.

Various cords and chargers:


New netbook (4 gig, 11.6” Acer):


Grape flavored scratch ‘n sniff shoes:


Favorite down coat:


That can be transformed to this (best invention ever):


Snacks/gels and throwaway blanket (that I secretly don’t want to throw away. $3.50 at Walgreens):
















Other essentials not pictured: iPod, earplugs, slippers, phone, magazines, book, bathing suit, Xanax for flight, glasses, Motrin.

What can’t you live without when you travel?

Do you usually carry on or check bags?

How often do you travel way out of town for races?

See you in Vegas, baby!



  1. good luck have a great time and safe trip!!

  2. I almost always carry the same sized bag whether I am gone for two weeks or two days. I don't know, it's something that I learned to do. I always always always bring something to read. Everything else is optional.

    Some day, it will be worth traveling to race. I think I might try the Tucson half marathon in a little over a year. I THINK that will be enough time to train...

  3. good luck! can't wait to hear back from all of you running (I follow so many of you!). Kick some butt!

  4. I'm having a hard time packing! We leave bright and early Saturday morning, very excited!

  5. I've only traveled once, o.k. twice for a race - RAGNAR in D.C. and the San Diego half marathon, which really didn't feel like we traveled to since it is a mecca for us Arizonans. I always carry the same bag and keep it with me at all times. It has become my "security blanket"

    Good luck in Vegas - I have friends running Vegas and I will be doing the Fiesta Bowl 1/2 the same day - hoping for great runs for all of us!

  6. Carry-on all the way!! I once flew to the Middle East for two weeks and only had my carry-on :)

    PS: I'm a new reader! I've been hearing a lot about you over the years, but I only officially started following after your post about the obese kid being put into foster care. I somehow missed you were a social worker before! I'm a BSW student up in Canada :)

  7. Dang how long you going for? Lol...looks like u are prepared. I travel a lot for work!...i mean a bunch and I hate it every time. Always think I forgot something. I travel on sunday and I am dreading packing right you have safe travels!

  8. Um not to be a buzz kill but thought you should know the carry on liquid rule is actually 3 oz. I know because a TSA douchebag threw away my oil of olay regenerist cream that cost $20 just 2 days ago, because it was 3.2 oz. Go rock Vegas! And I'm loving those shoes :)

  9. I carry on unless I'm flying Southwest, then I check my bag. But the key to carry on luggage is to push the limits with your personal item. Your carry on suitcase goes overhead. Then you get a large (mine might actually be the extra large) canvas tote from LL Bean--put your purse, laptop (in a sleeve), empty water bottle, and whatever else you can stuff in there that doesn't fit in your suitcase. The tote fits perfectly under the seat in front of you, so there's no issue by any nagging passengers about you putting both carry one overhead.

  10. Kimpossible: thanks! I told you I wasn't good at this. Going to change it now...

  11. I'm in So Cal, so pretty much every race in the universe is driving distance for me. Okay, I exaggerate, but only a little. :) It's good that I mostly drive to races, because I'm absolutely obsessive about bringing huge quantities of my own bottled water. Not only do I not like paying $5.00 a bottle at some hotel , I am weird about strange water that doesn't "taste right" to me.

    And I LOVE those shoes!!

  12. I always have to pack about twice as many pairs of underwear as I actually need. I've never had any particular reason for that. It's just the thought of not having enough...

  13. Hey! Are you racing in Vegas this weekend? Me, too! I love traveling for is a total vacation for me because I leave my family home! I love to travel...even with the inconveniences. It always feels exciting to me. Saline for my contacts and chapstick are my 'needs' when flying. BTW...someone told me that you can bring multiple containers of liquids but that each container cannot be larger than 3 oz. But that person might or might not be full of shit :P

    I'm headed to Walgreens now to buy a similarly awesome throwaway fleece blanket! Thanks for the tip!

    Safe travels and see you there!

  14. Whenever I go to Vegas I have to pack extra because it's so smokey in the casinos. Hate carrying anything on the plane so I always travel southwest. I'm gonna look for those shoes and introduce myself!

  15. XL: yep that is true. Just on one container can be more than 3 oz.

  16. Sounds like lots of people I know will be in Vegas. Hope you have a great race. Good luck finding a tree to poop in.

    I have not flown to a race yet, and don't plan on doing so any time soon. Something about taking my bike apart and putting it in a box, then subjecting that very expensive box to the tender mercies of the airline baggage handlers gives me the willies. Oh, wait, this is mainly a running blog.

    I'd rather drive to a race, and avoid the whole stress of constitution free airports, wondering if some TSA or INS goon will put me on a black flight to be tortured in Syria or something.

    I can remember when flying was a classy experience. Most men would be wearing a suit and tie. Women in nice dresses. You'd get real food, mostly. Steel cutlery. I loved it when you could walk across the tarmac and inhale the smell of jet fuel and walk up the stairs to the plane. Now, flying and airports have been turned over to degenerates in pajamas.

  17. Oh man I'm so excited for all you RNR vegas peeps heading out! Wish I was going to…

    Yeah, I'm a cheap-o carry-on type of gal… plus, pre-race I'm also massively paranoid that they'll lose my bag and I'll be without all my necessary race crap.

  18. Depends on where I am going. Vacation trip to Florida - carry on. Work trip to Forida - carry on. Ski vacation trip to Colorado - Checked luggage!

    I have to ask - 'cause I am thinkng of getting and iPad . . . why aren't you taking your iPad? Do you like it and use it?

  19. ha ha I laughed at your post as I actually forgot gels for the race!! I might see you in Vegas :)

    I am actually trying this whole carry on thing for the first time so we'll see how that goes! I am staying for 4 days so I have to be extra creative with my packing!!

    Enjoy the race and hopefully we'll get to meet :)

  20. Just travel and run in the bathing suit. That should free up a bunch of space.

  21. You know I was a crazed mess when I had to pack for our road trip to IMAZ!! There is just so much stuff!! Have fun in Vegas!!!

  22. Seriously cute running outfit! But, your wedges take up half that suitcase! Seriously, where are your priorities? And where's the body glide?

  23. I agree about Colorado being a good place for races, why travel? However, I do want to run the Nike's Women Half Marathon in San Fran one day.

    Good luck at your race!

  24. I always have to take a book or my kindle. I'm a big plane reader. I usually try to fly Southwest so that I can check my bag, but if I have to fly someone else I carry on. I'm pretty efficient at flying now since I flew almost every month to visit my husband when he was on active duty.

    I've only traveled to one race and it was stressful! I wasn't worried so much about forgetting stuff, but my morning routine was really messed up.

  25. New enough to only have traveled to my sister's in WI for a race so far. And it was a driving deal with my truck hauling my bike. Not a biggie. I'm pretty cheap too, but CO isn't that far so maybe I can get a cheapo flight or drive there some time for one of your mecca races. :) I'm all about the carryon. I do it in a softsided duffel because it tends to be able to be smashed easier in the overhead bins. It is a bit of a pain if the terminal is large though (wish it had wheels). I can't stand paying for bags or having to wait on them if at all possible to avoid. I just buy whatever I need at a Walgreens when I get there most of the time. There is one on the strip even! So I don't take any liquids other than a really small toothpaste. Probably helps I'm not into the makeup thing though.

  26. Hysterical! I was laughing so hard I had to read your post to my husband!

    Good luck with your race!


  27. hand sanitizer
    for the plane, a MUST

    good luck, safe travel, have fun, run fast.

    love the shoes!

  28. I'm actually heading about 2.5 hours away for a triathlon this weekend. I had to make myself a checklist to ensure I didn't forget anything! Last time I traveled for a tri, I forgot my wetsuit....not cool (well, I guess very cool, or FREEZING).

  29. When I ran Goofy's Challenge, I carried a full-sized suitcase with me. I was only there for 2 1/2days, but I took lots of water and gatorade and food with me (didn't want to spend money buying food...yup- cheap!).
    I ran the Princess half this year, and just had a carry-on, as I was only there 1 day.
    Good Luck!

  30. I always travel with my laptop and always try to carry on my bags. However I started to hand this bag to the guy when I enter the plane, he will put my bag in the "trunk" of the plane. This is much quicker and cheaper then checking a bag, but you can avoid the bag fight in the plane :)

  31. I travel for work, often for months at a time, so I always check bags. Luckily, I fly so much on one airline that I get 3 checked bags for free, up to 70 lbs, under their rules for "elite members". I plan races around where I'll be at the time, which is fun - I've run 3 of my 4 half-marathons this year in cities away from home. This means that I do cart a ton of running gear everywhere too, but I don't mind! Good luck in Vegas!

  32. I have never traveled for a race for the same reasons you mention! I purposely seek out races close to me. Maybe someday I'll take a vacation/race trip. But that would mean I need to convince my 5K-only running Hubz to do the same.

  33. Huh, I was under the impression you were banned from Vegas.

  34. Wait till you consider traveling for a tri and the hassle and stress of the bike.

    I hate traveling, Luckly (and surprisingly) Ohio is also a mecca for endurance sports with over 50 tris in the state each season, and with that competion, race fees are lower then most other states, I prefer small races anyways

  35. Good luck!

    I have never travelled for a race but am considering a destination half-marathon (it would be my very first) for my 40th birthday (in April). Any suggestions?

    I used to travel light. Then I got a notsolight traveller. And top it off with 4 kids and you're looking at many, many bags for just one night. {SIGH}. We're going on vacation sometime in February (Disney) and I shudder to think what our luggage is going to consist of.

  36. Have fun in Vegas. The other blogger that I read as faithfully as I read SUAR will be there too. Emily of

  37. I don't think I have ever traveled with just carry-on. I'm a chronic over-packer! It's amazing that I've never lost a bag. :KNOCK ON WOOD:

    Looks like you are all set! Have a FANTASTIC weekend!!!

  38. Good luck, have a great race and ejoy the afterglow..

  39. I am so glad I don't have to fly to Vegas because my bags are out of control for this weekend. Jackets, scarves, gloves, etc (I'm a 3.5 hour drive away.)

    I checked bags when I flew to Nike Women's in October - but they were free on Southwest.

    I am really going to struggle when I go to Portland for RnR next May - I will be there almost a week - and my airline charges.

  40. Enjoy the ride! I love to travel and race, but always spend too much time on my feet. Only been to chicago three times and boston once.

  41. My girl Jenny B. and my cousin Jessica are both in Vegas this weekend too! But I think Jen might be there for the half, the rodeo finals, cowboys, and booze. Not necessarily in that order. ;-p

    Go rock Vegas SUAR!!

  42. carry on all the way, no wheels. i just took that approach to our european whirlwind and could have packed less.

    you are gonna rock vegas!!!!!!!!

  43. I usually check bags, but every time I do I tell myself it's the last time! My vacations are few and far between, so when I go somewhere I go for a long time and bring lots of stuff.

    I'm new to the racing thing (5 halfs so far), but I've had to travel to 3 of them. Way more exciting, but way more of a pain to get to.

    Just found your blog and am a fan! Good luck in Vegas!

  44. I love to travel to marathons, they have a bit more meaning to me I think, so I've become the world's best racer packer. Or rather, good at making a list of things I forgot on the plane so I can pick it up at the expo.

    Have a blast in Vegas! Looking forward to that celebratory marg when you return!!

  45. I traveled about 4 hours by car for my 1st and only 1/2 RnR St Louis in october.
    I would live to do one in Madrid or Portugal spring next year but im sure that's expensive and im sure I can't afford it.
    Love your outfit.
    Good luck

  46. Never flown to a race, but have traveled 3 hrs and stayed in a hotel. You look well prepared. loved the disposable leopard print blankie ya got there:) I took 1 small suitcase that would fit in an overhead if needed w/ race gear on one side and other clothes (comfy yoga pants, granny panties, wooly socks) on the other. I think i forget more when I'm home going out for a run;) Traveling is stressful. Next time I'll take my 2 pillows, earplugs (the ac at the hotel sounded like a jet engine!!) and maybe some tylenol PM to knock me out. ugh. didn't sleep 1 wink.

  47. I've done quite a few trips away for runs and I've found the more times I do it the easier it gets. I use a lot of zip-lock bags to keep organised and that helps no end.

  48. Travel safe and have a great time in Vegas!!!

  49. Have fun in Vegas!

    I am a carry-on girl! I travel a LOT, and with years of practice can fit a weeks-worth of clothing and gear into a backpack (unless I had to go to the North Pole... I might need a full suitcase for a trip like that).