Why You Should do a Racecation Alone
This year (2018) Lululemon's SeaWheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver decided to do a lottery system. 'As opposed to what?' I hear you asking.
As opposed to this insane, Black Friday/Lollapalooza/Coachella-style madness of needing to take a day off work and be glued to 1123214 computer screens to pray and beg and plead to be able to register. I tried for FOUR HOURS last year and never even saw the payment screen.
This has led to a lot of praise (even from those of us who didn't get in) but naturally a lot of dissent. Suddenly groups are being split up because the race is a lottery with no bib transfers. From husband and wife duos, parents and their kids to best friends, people found out today that while some of their desired squad of family or friends got in, not everyone did. And while there are still spots opening until Sunday at 4pm PST, people are upset and deciding to reject their entries (which opens said entry for someone else who was not selected).
Even though I shouldn't, because I should want people to reject their entries so that I might get in, I wanted to write this post to convince people that traveling alone to a race is okay...it's more than okay. I had the best time of my life doing it.
Last year, I raised money for Sophie and Madigan's Playground and ran the Princess Half Marathon in Disney World alone (you can read my race recap from this Racecation here. I traveled down and stayed with a college friend who works at Disney, but I didn't see her much. I wasn't there to vacation with her, and she had to work! I was there to run. And I was in the most magical place on earth, a place I usually visit with my parents and brother, alone. And I was terrified and anxious heading down.
I took deep breaths. I packed my bags. I talked to my parents, who were excited but jealous that I was going and gave me advice and pep talks. I boarded my flight alone (I travel for work so this wasn't the first time) and I flew to Orlando the Thursday before the race.
First point of anxiety: the friend whose house I was staying at, Jenny, could not meet me at the airport. She had an important interview for a job (which she ended up getting! If you do the Keys to the Kingdom Tour in Magic Kingdom and get Jenny Jing from Evansville, IN, that's her!) and so I took a cab to her apartment. I had trouble getting into the complex, as it has a gate and guard, which totally exacerbated my anxiety. Jenny came and got me from the gate, I made it in and unloaded my stuff. Jenny had dinner plans with Cast Member friends at Animal Kingdom, but I wanted to go to the expo, so she dropped me off at DAK and I hopped on a bus to a resort (All Star Sports) where I could catch a runDisney bus to the expo. I did this alone.
I did whatever the hell I wanted at the expo without worrying about getting separated from my friend/family member.
I got to the expo at 1, went and got my bib and shirts (I did the Glass Slipper Challenge, which was a 10k Saturday and the half Sunday) and then walked into the worst part of the whole of runDisney: the merchandise area. Knowing that if I didn't hurry my ass to the official merchandise I'd never get anything, I made only one pitstop to buy a $19 tiny bottle of champagne before I pushed my way through the crowd as only a city dweller can and got in a short line to get merch. I had just gotten my tax refund, I was tipsy, I was alone, I spent $312. (And that's after a super nice cast member gave me an annual passholder discount because I was chatting with her about the chaos.)
I stumbled out of the official merch tent in a buzzed daze. Now what? I decided "screw it, no one is waiting on me, I'm on my own schedule" and perused the booths. I'm an ambassador for Balega Socks so I met up with their brand rep. I played all the fun little games booths had for free things, seriously considered wasting like $100 on a pair of Haunted Mansion New Balances, and then headed upstairs. Cool thing: they had a badass booth set up for the new live-action Beauty and the Beast! I didn't have a big group with me, so I slid in line. Bigger families let me cut three times, putting me at the front in minutes! I did all of the fun photo opps (see left) and then decided I needed a hot pink ESPN cup full of Angry Orchard. I got my giant cider, sat down, and started putting things in my Princess Half Marathon Dooney and Bourke wallet my parents were kind enough to get me as a late Christmas gift. I suddenly realized I could do whatever the hell I wanted. Like I fully realized it. So I took advantage! I went to Downtown Disney (via Uber) and drank more, spent more money, and ended my evening getting dinner solo at the outdoor bar area of Raglan Road. I drank, ate amazing food, and chatted with the bartender. It was so freeing.
I kept this up the entire weekend. I did see Jenny a few times, but I was mostly solo. I rode rides in the single rider lanes and saved tons of time (allowing me to ride them over and over). I watched the sneak preview of the new live action Beauty and the Beast (it was the song "Belle") OVER AND OVER! I documented all of it on my instagram stories, and people kept commenting about how much they looked forward to my updates because they were so funny, or how jealous they were I had actually gone alone. That gave me a huge confidence boost and brings me to my next point: my solo racecation changed how I looked at myself.
I learned so much about myself.
Now I've done something similar to this before. Due to breaking up with my college boyfriend, I ended up at the 2015 Lollapalooza solo. All three (back then it was three) days. I was nervous at first. I was afraid people would think I was some kind of weird loser, I was worried about what people would think. These moments of doing things solo tell you two things: no one cares but you, is the first. The second is that it shows you how awesome you truly are.
I wish I could put into words exactly what doing this Racecation alone felt like. All I can say, is that both while running the race and hanging out at the parks, I kept randomly getting butterflies in my stomach and this surge of adrenaline. I started to realize that I could trust myself, that I like myself! I started to appreciate things I had considered flaws (my impulsiveness, my anxiety) as things that made me, me. My confidence skyrocketed from both Lolla and this experience. The Lolla experience gave me the confidence to move from small town southern Indiana to downtown Chicago, for goodness sake!
I appreciate these solo experiences so much that I signed up to run the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in DC alone. It wasn't until I had started reaching out to my network to find lodging that I discovered a friend had wanted to run it and missed the lottery application deadline, but still thinks she might want to go cheer. My solo trip might not be solo this time. Either I'll have someone cheering for me as I run, or I'll be cheering for myself (I'm my biggest fan now, tbh). Either way, it will be an amazing trip and life changing in its own way.
This was a pretty rambling post but what I'm trying to say is if you got into SeaWheeze solo, don't give up your spot. You could be missing out on the independent adventure you didn't know you needed. Give yourself the opportunity to have fun and grow, solo for once. It might be the journey in self love and appreciation you need, even if you don't realize it yet.