The process is quite strategic.
1. I book the hotel. Close to the start line. They are always refundable.
2. I find a friend/spouse/relative to attend the race with me. Many races I was invited to tag along (or, ahem, invited myself). Tagging along with a friend's big race is a great way to knock off a state. A guaranteed way to have a buddy to hang out and share expenses with.
3. I pay the race entry fee as early as possible. This saves $$$. They are non-refundable, but sometimes transferrable.
4. I book the flight. I read online somewhere that booking 54 days out is when you get the cheapest airfare. This was not the case for my return flight from St. Louis for next month, but I will continue to test the theory. I try to fly on Southwest. B and L have noted that you can cancel your flight at anytime and the money will be credited for a future flight. Note: Southwest does not fly all over the country, which can be inconvenient (I'm looking at you, western midwest).
As you can see, the Talladega Half Marathon is this weekend. It was going to be my state #36. I am not going.
The problem is, I didn't follow my process. I got a bit cocky back in February 2014. I had just come off a surprisingly fast ish half in Arizona. I had lost some weight. My kid was supposed to be with her father. I was sure I could get a running friend (local or long distant) to come with me. If not, I would do this one on my own. I felt that awesome about it (I sometimes fly by myself, but I always meet someone at the airport, so this would be my first time solo).
I booked the hotel and paid for the race on 2/9/14. Yeah, I did steps 1 and 3, skipping right past step 2.
I paid for the airfare on 5/5/14. Just for myself. I got a steal on a round trip to and from Atlanta, and couldn't pass it up.
I still hadn't gotten anyone to commit to running with me. But, I put a plan together to train through the summer and attempt a PR in Alabama.
Then summer happened. The heat. The food. The alcohol. The vacations and fun times with family and friends. The lack of order. The lack of blogging. The lack of accountability. My pants got tighter.
|My PR plans fell away, but this summer was lots of fun.|
My Atlanta friend is going to a wedding this weekend, with her new amazing boyfriend. My Tennessee friend would have came along. I don't think she really wanted to, since she's finished all 50 states. But, she got injured at the end of August and I knew she wouldn't want to/be able to run a half so soon after her injury.
I talked to S about going, rearranging things. The airfare 30 days out for him to go was expensive, and he didn't really want to. I no longer felt awesome about doing Alabama on my own. My kid is with me this weekend, school just started, and I didn't really want to leave her (with or without S).
So, I had no good reason to run Alabama on 9/14/14.
1. I cancelled the hotel.
2. No one had a firm nonrefundable commitment to join me. I let LJ know she was off the hook for meeting me in Talladega with her injured leg.
3. I am out the race entry fee ($78). And, I am stuck receiving the race info emails this week. Telling me where packet pick up is, and asking my friends and family to volunteer at the last minute.
4. I cancelled the flight on Southwest. I've since used the funds for my return flight from St. Louis next month (where I'll be running with 3 other buddies, after inviting myself along on Pam's trip). Yeah, if you wait around too long, a round trip to Atlanta = a one way from St. Louis.
I'll be home with the husband. I'll be here with the kid. I'll pace a bunch of local runner chicks for their 9 mile training run on Saturday morning. Sometimes a DNS is the right choice. I never thought I'd hear myself say that.
I'll figure out when to run Alabama another day. And I won't skip step #2.