Saturday, October 19, 2013

Post-marathon: what now?

I have a big old BQ-shaped hole in my life. I finished Steamtown feeling so good, and never really felt like I was digging deep during the race. This isn't because I have superhuman mental strength, I just believe I didn't run to the limit of my abilities. I stopped twice for potty breaks and I think I probably ran extra-conservatively before those breaks because I was uncomfortable. So. 3:37:58 is SO CLOSE to being sub 3:35 (my BQ time) that I can't help but wonder if I have a BQ in me. This year. In a few weeks. I've poked around on the RW Forums to ask what other people think, and while some people are adamant about running one marathon and then decompressing and coming back stronger next year, others said that now could be a really good time to take advantage of my current fitness and run again, maybe faster.

Steamtown was a big net downhill, of course, and if you look at my splits that is reflected in the early ones being unusually speedy. I ran a sub-8 minute mile in a marathon? Who am I? But even factoring that in, I took 2 bathroom breaks (maybe 1 minute each time, I didn't check my watch) and I was comfortable the whole time. Comfortable. In a marathon! Madness! My only issues were tight calves and mild discomfort in my left foot. And ridiculous chafing in my armpits because I wore a new top and didn't use Bodyglide. But if that's the worst I can say after 26.2 miles, I'm really, really happy. I told myself I'd wait a week and see how my body felt, and then see if signing up for another race sort of soon felt like a good idea.

Races I'm considering:

NCR Trail Marathon (11/30- 6 weeks away)
I never really considered this race when I saw it on marathon lists because it had the word "Trail" in it. And trails are scary, technical things that I have no business running on. However, it was suggested to me to look at and I did and it turns out the trail is actually a rail trail, like the one I usually run on for my long runs. It is packed gravel, and runners say that it's nice and flat, so it would be doable for me. It takes place a little less than 2 hours from my house too, which is awesomely convenient. This race has a couple downsides though. The first is, it's Thanksgiving weekend. Although the opportunities to carb load are many, this would also interfere with our normal T-giving celebration with Nick's family. Second, it's a small race. Like 500 runners small. There will be no bands or cheering fans, it'll be me vs. my thoughts for 215 minutes or less. That's daunting to me. Although Steamtown was sort of small, there were a lot of spectators to liven it up, and there was a lot of scenery, plus other runners to look at and distract me. I worry that mental toughness would play a big part in this.

Major plus: If the field looks like it did last year, and I BQ'ed, I'd place in my age group. At a freaking marathon. How cool would that be? I'd never shut up.


Palm Beaches Marathon (12/8 - 7 weeks away)
Florida?! Yes, Florida. In December. Sounds like the obvious choice, right? Well, yes and no. This race starts about an hour from Nick's dad's house, which is very convenient. But we'd first have to drive 13 hours to get there, and 13 hours back. Plus, the weather can be a little iffy and will definitely be much warmer than my body is used to running in during the winter months. Tricky. Also, this race gets bad reviews from folks saying the organization is lacking and/or the course is uninteresting. The plus to an uninteresting course is that it's pancake flat. This is a slightly larger race and it would have more crowd support. I know if I was a spectator, you would have to pay me actual money to stand outside in December in Maryland, but I'd probably be easily bribed with a snack and I'd cheer on runners in Florida.

And then I can relax on the beach afterward, and drive 13 hours home. Bleh.

Rehoboth Marathon (12/7 - 7 weeks away)
This race does not get great reviews (the course was screwy 2 years in a row), but a co-poster on the Runner's World Forums recommended it to me. I've looked into it, and I still don't get warm fuzzies. It doesn't sound like a lot of fun, and there are trail sections that sound like they can slow you down quite a bit.

I'm undecided right now, clearly. I need to pull the trigger because the NCR race tends to sell out in late October/early November, but I'm just not there yet.

Any input? Anyone ever run marathons super close together? 

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