Running, she’s cheap, the racecation, that’s expensive.

Running as a hobby is not expensive. No, really, it’s not expensive. If I just ran 5 days a week for overall fitness and all that other crap that people say they run for, it wouldn’t cost me anything on a monthly basis except maybe in preventative chafing measures and occasionally updating my running shoes. But hey, where’s the fun in a hobby that doesn’t cost you a shit ton of money, am I right? Absolutely.

So here are the areas where I splurge and cut back to save money on racecations and that are helping to make my fall race dreams a reality.

IMG_2605Splurge: Extra Hotel Night
You can save a lot of money by not staying at a hotel, staying at a cheaper hotel, or just not staying the extra nights like the night after the race. I vacillated a lot on whether or not to check out right after Chicago and not pay for a hotel room on Sunday night. It would save me a little over $200, and it seemed like a really good idea. I mean, what was I really going to do after the marathon anyway?

After looking at what time I would probably finish by, I realized that even with late check out there was a limited possibility that I would be able to get back to the hotel and still have a room where I could shower and change before heading out to catch my flight. And sitting here now looking at the budget, that doesn’t seem like a big deal but I’m 99.9% sure that when the marathon is over I’m going to think it’s the biggest deal in the world.

For Disney races, specifically marathon weekend, the decision was whether to fly in Tuesday night before the expo opens on Wednesday or fly in Wednesday morning. All things being equal, and there being a flight out I can take after work so it doesn’t cost me extra vacation time, I ended up deciding to pay the extra and get a hotel room for Tuesday night. It’s not necessary, but with winter weather being as unreliable as it can be and with the Dopey Challenge meaning 4 early mornings already, I’m looking forward to at least 2 days in Disney where I can wake up at a reasonable hour. Like, say, 7am.

from tripadvisor

Pass: Rack Rate Rooms
I don’t pay full price for hotel rooms. Ever. Chicago marathon weekend, hotels basically are increasing their prices by almost double or more for rooms and guess who is having none of that shit? This girl.

While some people use sites like travelocity or expedia. the other part of my hotel booking policy is cancellation policies and different rates have different policies. 71% of what I’m spending on Chicago is on hotel, and worst case scenario if I can’t make it I’m not eating that cost. After reading the fine print, checking various rates, and doing some math, I found a place that gave me a great discounted rate when I called, cancellation before check in time means no charge, and on top of that it’s conveniently located! Awesome. Thanks, W hotel.

Pass: Unfriendly Airlines
I’m a JetBlue devotee. I love that airline and all the perks it offers its passengers. When given the choice between airlines, if it’s $10 more to fly JetBlue I’ll do it. Why?

Well, you know how unreliable airfare can be and that after you buy it sometimes it goes down. With JetBlue, I know the price fluctuations pretty well and can usually snag the fare at its lowest but let’s say I don’t. Not only can you check a bag for free on JetBlue, but if your airfare goes down and you call them to ask for the lower fare, they’ll put the difference your travel bank that you can use without restrictions on a future flight. That’s partially how I got $56 to use towards my flight for Wine & Dine weekend. On top of that, for the running traveler it’s nice to have the extra leg room to stretch out, the knowledge that because other people can check bags for free, you won’t have to gate check your carry on with your race essentials, free tv, and on top of that, all the snacks you can eat. Because JetBlue understands that you need to carbo load while watching Greg Kelly’s crazy shenanigans on Good Day New York.

All this is to say that United (RIP Continental) can kiss my fat ass good bye because hell will freeze over before I ever fly Satan’s airline again.

Splitting the Hotel
Bringing someone along for the fun saves you money. Although I’m in a room by myself for Chicago (so far), I’m sharing for Wine & Dine and the Dopey Challenge. Hey, cost savings, how nice to see you! I get to stay at the hotel I love for a lower price tag, I believe the kids call that awesome sauce.

So tell me, people, what are you willing to spend extra for and where do you cut corners?

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9 thoughts on “Running, she’s cheap, the racecation, that’s expensive.

  1. Excellent points. How exciting that you are doing Chicago! When I did a marathon in remote MI last year I footed the bill for one of the few rooms in town. When I found out that my room literally stepped out on the start line it was worth every penny. Hello to not having to use the porta potties!

  2. I still haven’t flown Jet Blue. I always check them, but I always seem to find better prices/routes elsewhere. Back in the dark ages before 9/11, like in 1992-’94-ish, I worked for United. The employees had just bought out the company, and as much as I hated dealing with the customers, the company itself used to go the extra mile. It was a place of pride to work. To hear the people who stayed after I left, it went down hill after 9/11 when staff was cut, flights were limited…blah, blah. Nowadays flying is like getting on a bus or the subway. You’ve just gotta get where you’re going.

    I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to splitting hotel rooms. Yeah, it saves on the cost, but you may be stuck with someone who stays up all night, or talks on the phone all night (yes, this happened to me). Or, if you’re like me and wake several times a night and decide you have to use the restroom, you worry about disturbing your roomie. The older I get, the less I like sharing a room.

    • My whole life we were devoted Continental flyers. Everything was on that airline and if it were still around, we’d still be flying Continental. Once United took over… damn, that change was harsh and unpleasant. The airfare went up, the service was so incredibly crappy, and then that was it. I vowed never again!

      I’m usually pretty firmly in the I need my own space camp, especially since I could never have a roommate (it was either live at home or live in an apartment by myself) but I’m looking forward to changing things up. The biggest downside going to Chicago alone is basically the thought of having dinner by myself on Sunday after the marathon. That’s the one thing I’m not looking forward to doing alone.

      • You won’t have to! We’re not leaving until Monday either, we can hobble around Chicago together!

  3. Ugh, I remember I had to fly back the day of the Princess Half (my FIRST half) because of Doug’s teacher schedule. I was definitely in that room after check-out time and worst of all, the flight back cost us more than the entire stay at the hotel! It was ridiculous! NEVER AGAIN!

    And also never again? Fly anything but Jet Blue. I love Jet Blue for all the reasons you mentioned. Last year, my friends and I flew Delta to W&D because it was cheaper, biggest mistake EVER! Besides no tv, crappy leg room and charging for your bag, Delta changed our seats on us! We had deliberately bought tickets in specific seats sitting together. Both the flight down and back they changed our seats, put us no where close and gave us NO notification that they were doing so until we checked it. RIDICULOUS! Sorry, angry rant over.

    Woohoo for so many fun raceations! 🙂

  4. Jet Blue or Bust! Seriously, I ONLY fly Jet Blue! We have the Jet Blue Amex, so between the credits I get back for when my flights drop in price (which is almost always!) and the points from the credit card my flights are always super cheap!

    I had to drive home after MCM (well my mo drove, I sat in the car…) and I’ll most likely be flying home after the WDW Marathon this year – sitting in the car after the race sucked, but I did some recovery stuff right after the race (ice bath, foam rolling, etc.) and made sure to move around and stretch my legs as much as I could.

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