Well it's that time of the year again where I start thinking about what my "A" race for the year is going to be. For the second year in row it's going to be a marathon and my sole intent is to take another shot at qualifying for Boston since things didn't quite come all the way together for me at Chicago last year.
There's no shortage of options out there so that's a good thing, but there's a lot of little things to take into consideration. Course type, location, time of year, etc., etc. Chicago was a lot of fun last year. It's a great city to visit and the course was exceptionally flat and speedy, but I'm thinking I don't need to do another mega-marathon again this year. Don't get me wrong, the big races can be a lot of fun with all the crowd support and entertainment, but sometimes it's nice just to run and not be knocking elbows with the person next to you.
The single biggest draw for me right now is a flat, fast course. It's not that I don't like hills or am afraid of them, but when qualifying is based purely on time I might as well maximize my chances and pick a course that I'm more likely to post a fast time on. If at some point down the road I want to take on some gnarly hilly race to get some sort of masochistic pleasure out of the challenge I will do so. For now I just want to be fast.
Then question then remains, when do I want to be fast? Or maybe when can I be fast? The choice of fall marathons run from September to November with plenty of options in those months. I have to realistically look at where my training and mileage is at. I still consider myself to be easing back into training after an injury, but I did manage to put away 31 miles this last week. At the start of an 18 week training plan I would like to be up to 55 miles a week so I still have a ways to go to get built back up. With a race heavy April the build will be slower as I'll have to allow for recovery as needed from the hard efforts. So I'm likely looking at the end of May to be back up to snuff and that would again put me on schedule for an early October marathon at the earliest. I was looking at some tantalizing September options though that, if I don't hit my goal time, would allow me to still try a November marathon too. Part of me doesn't want to have that "out" but still tempting nonetheless.
The last part of the equation is just where the heck do I go to do this at? I like to travel and a race is a good excuse head somewhere new. Just how far though? Do I stay within driving distance so my favorite sherpas (mom and dad) can come along or do I hop a flight with my running shoes to find a new place to run? The nice thing about running races is that I don't have to haul a bike along. What a pain that is. Just toss some shoes in a suitcase and I'm good to go!
Like I said the good news is that there are plenty of options out there and whatever I decide I'm sure I can find something that fits all of my criteria. I enjoy browsing race websites, looking at course maps and reading reviews for an entire evenings at a time. So I'll spend a few more weeks doing that to further narrow things down and hopefully come up with a plan for this fall. Now if only I could dedicate this much time to job hunting....