"In running, as in life, there is always another race to train for."
-Kathrine Switzer, Marathon Woman.
Isn't that the truth? Just when you rise to the occasion and complete your first race or get that new PR, another opportunity presents itself.
I knew well before I ever ran the Philadelphia Marathon that the marathon distance was not just going to be a "bucket list" item for me. It was going to be a lifestyle. I was excited about the idea of running a spring marathon, but I also wanted to make sure that my body was going to be able to remain in one piece over the winter months. I also wanted to give myself time to figure out what my goals were and what sort of course might help get me there. The main goal was easy: qualify for Boston. The course: somewhere relatively flat and outside of Florida b/c of the heat.
When it came time to finally chose a spring race, I went back and forth between five of them:
Fargo Marathon (North Dakota- late May)
Bob Potts Marathon (Pennsylvania- late May)
Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon (Toronto, Canada- early May)
Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon (Minnesota- mid-May)
... and the last minute addition, the Wisconsin Marathon (Kenosha, WI- early May)
At some point in time in my life, I guarantee that I will complete all of the above races as they are all attractive to me in their own unique way.
After checking about 10 years worth of weather history for each location and analyzing course layouts and elevation maps, I was able to cross off Fargo (great reviews, but too late in May, potential heat, lots of twists & turns on the course), Bob Potts Marathon (very small, great surface, but late-May in PA can be warm & muggy), and Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon (lovely course, great reviews, but very small).
Finally, it came down to two: Toronto Marathon & Wisconsin Marathon. Toronto was very appealing because well, it's Canada... and MSL and I love our Canadians. It's a smallish race, but not super small. I'm a BIG race girl and since I'm still new to the distance, I was worried that if a race was too small (like Bob Potts or Lake Wobegon) that I would lose my mojo around mile 18. The Toronto course map was the kicker. It's a net downhill, but it also has some very steep inclines early in the race. Honestly, that right there was the breaking point for me. A few steep inclines I could train for, but a course with that sort of net downhill, that would be nearly impossible to train for in South FL.
And thus, by process of elimination, I had a winner! The Wisconsin Marathon. The weather history for Kenosha during this time of the year is pretty much ideal with an average low of 41F and high of 61F. The 10 year history didn't show much discrepancy in that forecast, so that was a huge plus. The course is also quite flat. Just under 1000 people ran the marathon last year and another 2000 ran the half marathon, so it's a small event, but I don't expect to be alone. Again, I LOVE biiig events. I thrive off of the energy of others, so it's important for me to not be alone. Then again, I don't want to continue to get stuck behind people (which was the case with Philly). Finally, this marathon gives off a completely awesome vibe! The medal is cool as... cheese! They have brats and beer at the finish line... and a polka band! There are no pace groups, no age group awards... not a lot of hoopla. Right now, that all just feels right!
And so, on Cinco de Mayo I will be running in the Wisconsin Marathon. I am going to train hard and definitely hope to PR at this distance, but whether or not a Boston qualifying time will be within my grasp is yet to be determined. It might not happen at this particular race, but I am confident that with time, it will happen.
Today begins my second week of training for this marathon cycle. Last week was a solid 40 mile week for me. I was worried about a little achilles tenderness that I've been having post-Disney, but it actually seemed to get better as the week went on. I did have to break my mileage down into smaller chunks so as not to aggravate the achilles with longer training sessions. This might not be ideal, but I was able to get in my mileage plus a few cross-training sessions.
I other news, the St. Pete Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon is less than 2 weeks away. MSL and I will be participating, but I'm not adjusting my marathon training schedule for it (no taper) AND I'm not "racing" it if my achilles is bothering me at all. This may be my first half marathon "fun run"... and I'm actually OK with that. I used to be so hyper-anxious about my times in the past. If I couldn't "race" it to my potential, I didn't even bother entering. But I just don't feel like I have anything to prove to myself right now. I'm in a good place and happy with the results I've acquired over the past 2 months. I also better understand that it's impossible to race every weekend, while putting in quality training weeks for an unrelated event AND do your very best at said race.... but that doesn't mean that you have to miss out on the fun. You've just got to be able to swallow a little "numbers" pride. I think I've definitely grown as an athlete and am ready to do that now.