Joanna Russo plans her vacations around upcoming races.
Every runner experiences that eureka moment when they go from being an ordinary human being to "a runner" (cue inspirational background music). I see it happen all the time. People come into Pacers Running Stores claiming they "don't really run" or claiming they're "not a runner" only to buy a pair of shoes, then join a running group or do a couple races. Eventually they'll return, only this time they'll be a "runner." For me, this moment happened the summer before my freshmen year of college. I slowly began to realize that instead of planning my run around my day, I was planning my day around my run. As I've gotten older, running has continued to become less an activity in which I partake and more a lifestyle to which I subscribe. Like brushing my teeth or eating pizza, it's just a natural part of my day.
Of course, this means that when I leave DC, I take running with me. Sometimes I even end up planning a vacation around a race. For instance, I had been meaning to visit a friend in California and when a race popped up in San Diego, I signed up and planned my visit. With races, it's easy. I don't have to worry about planning a route, breaking from my normal training routine or finding myself alone in undesirable areas. Plus, races always come with a sense of accomplishment that warrants a celebration afterwards. Celebrations make any vacation supremely more exciting.
But when I have a vacation planned and can't find a race, I'll find a local running group or friend to show me the local running hot spots. I learned my way around DC by running, so it makes sense I'd do the same in another location. Sometimes the best hidden treasures can only be stumbled upon while on foot.
So, as I pack for a long weekend in Florida visiting family, you know my running shoes and workout gear are the first items in the suitcase. I'll savor each and every run along the beach and each beautiful sunset because I'm a runner, and that's what runners do.