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Packing Process

by Meghann on October 6, 2010

You won’t believe this, but it was – wait for it58 degrees when I stepped outside this morning!!!! 58 may not sound like much to the northern folks, but to us Floridians 58 degrees means a nice cool breeze and virtual non-existent humidity.

Fall is in the air- I can finally feel it!

We’ve actually been enjoying those temps all week. This just happens to be the first time I can brag about it. It has been nice to run in and according to the Chicago Marathon Weather Alert I received in my inbox yesterday, this is the weather I should be expecting on race day. Score!

However, I didn’t run in it this morning. Instead I grabbed my new Shopaholic book and headed to to the elliptical to zone out for an easy 30 minute session. Nothing heavy, just enough to keep my legs loose and my mind occupied.

After a quick shower and – you won’t believe this part – taking a minute or two to actually do my hair (first time using my blow dryer in a couple of weeks), I sat down to a lovely breakfast of cantaloupe, yogurt, granola, and peanut butter.


Not just any yogurt, it was the amazingly delicious Chobani Pineapple Yogurt. A favorite of mine that I only purchase on special occasions because of the extra $$ compared to a large tub of the not-quite-as-delicious plain.


You also see on the plate a handful of Uncle Sam’s Cereal, a large dollop of Honey Peanut Butter, and a crumbled Dark Chocolate Adora Disc.


Marathon Packing

Last night I began the packing process for my trip to Chicago this weekend.


Yes, I said process. It takes a village to raise a kid and apparently it takes the same to pack for a marathon.

Traveling for a marathon is tough. The saying goes ‘don’t try anything new on race day’ so let’s say you forget an important piece of your racing equation at home – such as your running shoes or your lucky socks – then you’re screwed. Well, not really screwed, but definitely not a happy camper.

That’s why there’s a process for me to pack.

Step 1: Wash anything and everything in the apartment just in case you decide to pack it last minute.

Step 2: Write a list with everything and anything you might need. (this step may take a couple of days.

My list.

  • Shoes
  • Running Clothes (umm.. I may be bringing 3 or 4 different options)
  • Socks (!!)
  • Headband
  • Hair stuff
  • Garmin
  • iPod + headphones
  • Mid-race Fuel
  • Morning Fuel (at least have a plan in place even if you don’t bring anything)
  • Armband iPod holder
  • SpiBelt
  • Flip Cam’
  • Point & Shoot Camera

Step 3:  CHARGE EVERYTHING! Even if you think it’s charge, top it off just in case – better to be safe than sorry.

Step 4: Set everything aside that you may want to bring 

Step 5: Go through pile of set aside things and think about if you really need to bring three pairs of jeans or not on your trip

Step 6: Repeat Step 5

Step 7: Make snack baggies for the trip

Step 8: PACK!

Step 9: Question yourself a million times and repack everything a million times over

What are your essentials when packing for a marathon?

1 Katie @ Healthy Heddleston October 6, 2010 at 8:52 am

I’ve never packed for a marathon but when I pack in general I always check and double check toiletries. I hate forgetting my favorite toothpaste or my glasses / contact solution!
Katie @ Healthy Heddleston recently posted..Fresh Market Fail

2 Freya October 6, 2010 at 8:52 am

EEK! This post makes me nervous for my marathon in 3.5weeks – i’m having to pack not only for that, but for a whole new continent too!!! Gah.
Freya recently posted..Autumn

3 Carly (Swim, Run, Om) October 6, 2010 at 8:59 am

Yeah, never have packed for a marathon, but I can say packing is a total nightmare for me. I almost always forget something – whether it’s something like makeup (not so bad) to panties (uh), I always, always forget. I write lists days in advanced, I always go through everything at least three times, but it always happens.
Carly (Swim, Run, Om) recently posted..Monday eats

4 Cate October 6, 2010 at 9:00 am

It does finally feel like fall and it is sooo nice outside! 🙂
I have never packed for a marathon before, but I always make a list when packing. I am a bit paranoid I will forget something so I make sure to double check my list and bag before I leave.
Cate recently posted..Race Recap- My First Tri – Lake Nona YMCA Family Triathlon

5 Kelly October 6, 2010 at 9:20 am

Packing for anything is difficult, throwing a race into the mix makes it even more difficult. Good luck this weekend!
Kelly recently posted..Tales of my Travels

6 Caitlin October 6, 2010 at 9:21 am

I am so nervous for you.
Caitlin recently posted..Halloween Costumes for Runners

7 Meghann October 6, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Don’t be nervous friend. Be EXCITED! 🙂

8 CMae October 6, 2010 at 9:21 am

I always triple-check to make sure I have my favorite socks, sports bra and registration stuff. And I get neurotic about packing race fuel, but then I always get more Shot Blox at the expo!
CMae recently posted..Jupiter Presents- What Snuggle Bear

9 Whitney October 6, 2010 at 9:25 am

your packing looks like mine haha. Creative yummy looking breakfast this morning.

I over analyze everything when it comes to packing for a race. One time I brought everything under the sun except my running shoes. It is crucial to be over prepared haha.
Whitney recently posted..Nude – Fruit

10 Amanda October 6, 2010 at 9:27 am

Lots of steps! I hope you remember everything!
Amanda recently posted..Introducing Me

11 kristy @ October 6, 2010 at 9:30 am

I’m going to be going through this process in afew weeks when I travel to Greenville SC for the Spinx Marathon. Thanks forthe tips!
kristy @ recently posted..Eat Race Die

12 Brittney October 6, 2010 at 9:32 am

My packing strategy is very similar to yours. A couple days out I open a suitcase and start throwing things I might want to bring at it, then reevaluate as my trip gets closer. Usually I bring way more than I need to on trips, but if I have the room, I think it’s worth it to have options.
GOOD LUCK with your race Meghann!!!! You’re going to do great!!! 🙂
Brittney recently posted..To Eat Meat Or To Not Eat Meat

13 Megan October 6, 2010 at 9:51 am

I just started the new shopaholic book last night! I’ve been waiting forever for a new one to come out 🙂 Good luck in Chicago!!

14 Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels October 6, 2010 at 9:59 am

I don’t run marathons (nor do I run!) but I just wanted to say good luck with the marathon Meghann! 🙂 You’re going to do amazing!
Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels recently posted..Chocolate Gingerbread Bars

15 emily October 6, 2010 at 10:15 am

I ended up going music-free during my HALF marathon, but have you thought about your i-pod in detail? Do you have a good playlist set up, is its holder packed, are your headphones packed????

Also – does hair stuff include extra scrunchies?

Do you have any sort of pain-meds to put in your spi belt? And/or Body Glide, etc?
emily recently posted..Pumpkin Powered

16 Meghann October 6, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Yes, playlist is checked out. 🙂 And I travel with a full kit of hair stuff. No pain meds, but I do have a sample size of blody glide!

17 RunningOnCoffee October 6, 2010 at 10:25 am

Chobani is good, and cheaper than the greek yogurt brands my grocery store stocks (Fage, Oikos by Stonyfield). I will occasionally make a trip to one of the grocery stores that does carry Chobani and just fill my basket with yogurt. I can usually find the individual containers on sale for either 5/$5 if I’m really lucky or 4/$5. Compared with $1.69/container for Fage. and $1.79/Oikos.

I can’t imagine your packing stress for a marathon that is far away. I had a hard enough time for my two half marathons that were only ~45 minutes away from home. I gave a LOT of thought as to what to wear, and I obsessed over the weather forecast for the week leading up to it. I still ended up throwing in a couple shirt options in the car with me so I could decide last minute (for my April one I couldn’t decide between short sleeve or long sleeve! It had been in the upper 30s over night, and got up to 50 during the race) The September one was a no-brainer because it was pretty warm (60s to mid 70s)

Even in NJ we’ve had hot weather all this summer up through about a week or two ago (We were comparing notes all summer with my in-laws who live an hour southeast of Orlando – as to who had it worse). I am loving the cooler fall temperatures. I wore capris for my run this morning for the first time in…over 6 months, because it was 50 out at 6:30am, and it was glorious. 🙂

I make lists and start my packing process early when I travel too. Don’t forget to bring the chargers for all of your technology you are bringing! I hate it when I forget my phone charger or extra camera batteries at home.
RunningOnCoffee recently posted..Lululemon Run- Inspire Jacket

18 rebecca lustig October 6, 2010 at 10:35 am

most important: charging things AND THEN remembering the chargers… good times… haha
rebecca lustig recently posted..blast from the past

19 Melissa @ Running with Needles October 6, 2010 at 10:37 am

I make a list like that every time I’m packing for something. I have had too many forgotten items to wing it. I’ve never traveled for a marathon but I have traveled for shorter-distance races and I agree about packing everything and more that you’ll need. I usually bring at least 3 outfit options, if not more, for race day.

And good luck in Chicago!!!

20 Sarah October 6, 2010 at 10:37 am

for the one race I’ve done… I made sure to pack a snack for both pre and post race just incase I ran into a problem getting one while I was away.

follow me 🙂 as I set out as a fairly new runner
Sarah recently posted..Lets Just Start Fresh

21 RunningOnCoffee October 6, 2010 at 10:49 am

Good call – I brought a snack for my September race just in case (but of course the Rock n’ Roll folks had tonsss of great food at the end).

At my April half marathon- They had this spaghetti dinner type meal for after the race. I was in no mood for spaghetti and marinara sauce and an italian dressing-doused “salad” at 10:30 in the morning. I grabbed a chunk of italian bread, picked up some yogurt that was being promoting outside, and stopped for an iced latte on my way home (the skim milk has protein, right?)
RunningOnCoffee recently posted..Lululemon Run- Inspire Jacket

22 Sarah October 6, 2010 at 11:11 am

sounds like you had NO problem at all!

For my half marathon, I think I had a harder time getting my breakfast together than I did getting food after the race.

I think everyone can agree that food is essential post race!
Sarah recently posted..Lets Just Start Fresh

23 Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday October 6, 2010 at 10:38 am

When you let your hair air dry, do you put any product in it or just leave it to mother nature?
Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday recently posted..Eating Animals – Review

24 Meghann October 6, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I add a bunch of mousse and let it dry like that.

25 skinnyrunner October 6, 2010 at 10:54 am

garmin! although i try to remember all the essentials (that sequined, Borat-style man thong is NOT an essential), I figure if i forget something i can buy it. but i really don’t want to have to buy another watch.
skinnyrunner recently posted..Controversy is a good salesman

26 Megan @ AVeryMegGirl October 6, 2010 at 10:58 am

When I ran the disney princess I forgot my I pod and relized as I was drying away from out Pizza Fusion meet up.. Thankfully there was that walmart across the street and I was able to buy a shuffle and I had the songs on my computer.. Ever since then I am so scared I am going ot forget stuff for a race!! Good list!
Megan @ AVeryMegGirl recently posted..Rock of Ages

27 Emily October 6, 2010 at 11:00 am

For my most recent marathon I think I packed about 10 outfit options. For Chicago last year I wasn’t expecting the cold and barely brought enough to wear. (I ended up needing to buy throwaway gloves from the hotel gift shop.) Now I stockpile cheap gloves and also bring a trash bag to wear at the start if it’s cold.
Emily recently posted..10 Down

28 Jessica Maher October 6, 2010 at 11:02 am

Hey girl- visiting from Mrs. MFC who loves you so I figured I would too and I DO! Great blog and great to find another foodie lover out there! Have a great day, I now like you and follow you via twitter! Hope you can come visit and we can keep in touch! XOXO Jessica

29 Danielle C. October 6, 2010 at 11:03 am

Question for you, I’m running my very first full marathon in January and will be traveling for it. The race is on Sunday, what have you found to be the best travel days around the marathon. I was planning to fly in Friday morning and leave Monday afternoon. I haven’t booked airfare yet so I’m just curious what you have found to be the best days to travel before/after to give you time to get adjusted/recover to deal with an airplane. LOL.

30 Meghann October 6, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Well when I ran San Diego I flew in on Friday, ran the marathon on Sunday, and flew out on Monday. It was great because I had time to explore on Saturday and time to pass the heck out on Sunday.

This time I’m flying in Friday (Yay!) but flying home Sunday night (Yikes!) due to $$ constraints and PTO issues. I would say head out Friday and head home Monday if that option is open.

Good luck!

31 Danielle C. October 7, 2010 at 9:40 am

Thanks for the advice! Love your blog (and this whole community). Good luck to you on Sunday!

32 Natalia - a side of simple October 6, 2010 at 11:04 am

I’ve never packed for a marathon but whenever I pack to go away overnight I pretend I’m leaving, shut the door, and think this is my last chance to grab anything. It might seem silly but it totally works for me!
Natalia – a side of simple recently posted..Sunday Un-Rest

33 Amy B @ Second City Randomness October 6, 2010 at 11:07 am

I’m sure the random weather we’re getting here in Chicago isn’t helping packing decisions much. It’s cooler right now, but is supposed to be in the low 70’s on Sunday.

I guess dealing with this random weather on a regular basis justifies my overpacking issues…
Amy B @ Second City Randomness recently posted..Waking Up is Hard to Do

34 KDBaker October 6, 2010 at 11:10 am

My marathon packing list looks pretty similar to yours but funny story (well, now it is funny…) When I ran my 50k earlier this summer I had most of my running gear in a dirty laundry bag that I was taking with me to wash at my mom’s house (6 hours from home). I am sure you can see where this story is going…about 4 hours into the drive I asked my boyfriend where he put the laundry bag…he said “what laundry bag?” and yes, it was sitting in my bedroom at home! To make things worse, my race was in my very small home town…after visiting wal-mart, kmart, jcpenneys and the local sporting goods store I was still empty handed…luckily my mom knew a friend who was a runner about my size and I ran my longest race ever in borrowed clothes!

35 Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards) October 6, 2010 at 11:23 am

i always pack way too much because i want to be prepared for any eventuality. but then there’s always SOMETHING that gets forgotten! your tips are great. GOOD LUCK!!!
Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards) recently posted..I’m Feelin’ Like A Star- You Can’t Stop My Shine

36 Melissa October 6, 2010 at 11:28 am

Hey, just a fe quck ideas for packing for the marathon. Make sure that you have old sweats to wear while you are waiting for the start. I took the pants off while making my way with the pack to cross the starting line and my extra sweatshirts and longsleeve tops I took off at mile 1, 2 and 3, and just keep my arm warmers on until the end (i used old ski socks and cut the toe off to make them). Last year it was in the upper 20s at the start and then stayed in the high 30s low 40s throughout the race. Also, purchase some hand warmers to hold on to, to keep your hands warm – I actually ran with them until mile 20 (when I dropped the last one) but it wasgood for reheating my hands after grabbing waters. There is a Modells on La Salle and Ontario (or maybe Huron) that sells them, but I am sure that you can find them anywhere. Saw your comment about paying extra to have other facilities and meet-ups, so not worth the money, Chicago does a great job at the end of the race and the family meet up area is very organized, plus its less walking than other marathons have. If you want any other specifics, I can give a full report of my 09 experience.

37 Emily October 6, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I LOVE my spibelt, it’s cutesy black with neon polka dots!
Emily recently posted..Why I Run

38 Jessica@tastyandtrim October 6, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Pineapple chobani has to be one of my favorite yogurt flavors! I have never packed for a marathon, but in general when I pack I always make sure I pack plenty of underwear and triple-check that I have all of my toiletries!
Jessica@tastyandtrim recently posted..Nothing Like a Bowl of Oats

39 Theodora October 6, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I need to do this! Do you bring separate clothes for after you finish to put in a bag? Do you bring your own finish line bag or do they give you a bag you have to use?

40 Meghann October 6, 2010 at 2:02 pm

They should give us a bag to use. And yes I bring a change of clothes just in case.

41 Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life October 6, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I haven’t ran a marathon, but when packing and getting ready for a race, I always over pack warm clothes. I never want to race in an unexpected cold spell! I would also pack my heart rate monitor! : )

42 Kate October 6, 2010 at 1:02 pm

good luck!! and what is that suitcase….i like it…looks like it holds lots, but is organized. I should pack like that, rather than my current “dump and zip” method.

43 Meghann October 6, 2010 at 2:03 pm

It’s a Dakine bag! LOVE them!

44 Holly October 6, 2010 at 1:17 pm

I’m new to your blog so forgive my lengthy first comment, but….
I’m super anal in the packing department- enter the packing spreadsheet. I make a list of each day I’ll be gone, type out what I might be doing on each day and then set about ‘virtual packing’ outfits by day (i.e. i list the pants, shirt, shoes, accessories, etc by day). This has greatly reduced the number of times I over or under pack for trips. It also helps me to consider how I might re-use some of the items I’m bringing to cut down on bulk in the suitcase.

I’ve traveled for both marathons and triathlons. I lay out my items for each event (in this case just running) as if I was going to do it right then. Take that pile and pack it in your suitcase immediately! (don’t forget nutrition-gels, etc- for during the race). Since you’re running in a city with fairly unpredictable weather, you should bring at least an option or 2 for colder or warmer than expected conditions. My advice, plan to wear whatever you wore for your longest training run—you know it works for distances. 🙂

Happy race day–wish I was doing it too!! Next stop for me is San Antonio 1/2 in November then Houston full in January.

45 hiplip October 6, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I always skip bringing a hairdryer – the hotel always has one and it takes up so much room. OR, if I’m traveling with another girl we will split up bringing the ‘getting ready’ essentials, other than our own makeup of course.
hiplip recently posted..Somewhere Over the Rainbow A Coupon!

46 Courtney Moore October 6, 2010 at 5:15 pm

YES! It was freezing this morning here in Texas! I wake up at 5am when my husband does – we go on post together. So while he is off doing PT with his unit, I’m off on my own, running in the chilly morning! I had a LONG SLEEVE ON THIS MORNING. I was grinning like a maniac the whooooole run, haha. 🙂
Courtney Moore recently posted..Little Miss Force Fitness

47 margo October 6, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Ive been reading your blog for quite some time now and I am super excited to running in the same race as you… ur like a mini celebritity in my life LoL….

I often wonder when i read blogs if “you all” ie blog writers, realize how “real” u are to ur readers and how much u effect us…. really u put “balance” into prospective esp. for someone such as myself who works too much, works out even more, eats too little, yadda yadda ya…

so a big GOOD LUCK! and thank you!

48 Lacey @ Lake Life October 6, 2010 at 8:23 pm

I am definitely a huge fan of lists for EVERYTHING.
Lacey @ Lake Life recently posted..Seneca Farms

49 Whitney @ Whitinspired October 6, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I’m a big list person, but not when it comes to packing. This is going to sound ridiculous, but I do a “head, shoulders, knees and toes” check before I leave. Everything I need for each region usually gets remembered!
Whitney @ Whitinspired recently posted..Uncreative

50 sirenjess October 6, 2010 at 10:30 pm

I realized at the airport when I was headed to San Francisco two summers ago that I forgot to pack socks for my marathon. Thank god for Fleet Feet.

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