It’s time to ‘fess up. There have been some decisions made and goals set since last week’s Not Me! post. I had intended to keep this quiet for awhile longer, but I’m not very good at keeping secrets and I’m dying to share — I’ll be gearing up for my third attempt at the marathon later this year.
In a conversation beginning with, “Now don’t think I’m serious about this or anything, but a thought just popped into my head…” and ending with “I didn’t want to say anything unless you brought it up, but I think it’d be really great for you,” Scott and I discussed the possible combination of 26.2 miles and ME on the way home from Florida. Although part of me recoiled in dismay at the thought of another 18 weeks dedicated to a single event, another part recalled the occasional irritation caused by thinking of that durn DNF from Louisville.
By the time we got home, I was fired up enough to at least look for races. The ideal marathon would be something reasonably close to home, on a flat-ish course, and with a low potential for OPPRESSIVE HEAT on race day. A trip to Marathon Guide later, it appeared that the most reasonable months were November and February. The only races within my “distance from home” range in December or January are Charlotte and Kiawah and that weekend’s no good for me. March is edging towards spring, which is edging towards crazy hotness, which is no good at all.
Within those two months, I narrowed it down to three contenders: Chickamagua, Atlanta, and Myrtle Beach. Chickamagua is a two-loop course inside a national park. According to reviews, it’s “not as hilly as you’d think it would be,” a not quite comforting statement, and a great, scenic course away from the noise and pollution and traffic of cities. Sounds neat. It’s also limited to 600 participants, so the small field combined with location of the course sounds like a potentially lonely 4 hours. Oh, and the race is on November 14, which would mean that I start training two days ago. Ha.
The Atlanta marathon is on Thanksgiving Day. It’s the shortest drive of all the marathons I’ve found, which is appealing, as is the fact that the course is 90% the same as the one from the 1996 Olympic Games…but running 26 miles in and finding our way around Atlanta…not so much. Um, yes, and training would begin July 26. Next!
Lastly, the Myrtle Beach marathon is on February 13. It’s sort of a figure-8 course that looks to be spectator-friendly. It has a reputation for being very flat and fast, and because it’s the off-season in Myrtle Beach there are likely some good hotel deals to be had. Training for this bad boy would begin on October 11. October…also known as my favorite running month. 18 weeks of running as the weather turns from cool to cold(ish)? Hmm. That sounds a lot more appealing than a 16-mile long run at the end of August, I’m not gonna lie.
At this point in the deliberation, Scott threw one more contender into the ring. His first marathon was Gasparilla in Tampa. It’s on February 28 this year, and he argued that it’s a great, flat course, we already know what hotel we’d stay at and the places we’d eat, and there are pirates. It’s farther away than I thought to go, but Allegiant does fly to St. Pete so it seems to be an option…and then Scott checks the average temperature on race day. Average high = 71*. Average high in Myrtle Beach = 61*. I look at him. He looks at me. “Well, I guess for you the colder the better, huh?” Yessir. I concur. (Sidenote: Although the year that Scott ran Gasparilla the high for the day was in the low 40*s and it was below freezing at the start. You just can’t ever tell.)
So, now we have the end goal established: Myrtle Beach in 2010. The question is…do I have the will? Is this what I really, truly want? It would make my third attempt at the distance. The first began in December 2007 and ended in January 2008…at mile 12 of an 18-mile long run. The monotany of solo training got the best of me. The second attempt we know all about…from January to April 2009, I made it through all of the training (with the help of a couple of running buddies) but failed at mile 20 of the race itself, victim of an exceptionally hot day.
Can the third time be the charm? I’ve gotten sooooo close…it’d be difficult to get farther than I have before and NOT finish. (Oh, wouldn’t it be ironic if I got to mile 23 next time? What a terrible thought!) I do enjoy running in the winter/fall, and I LOVE being able to say, “sure, I went out for an 11-miler. It was no big deal.”
So yes. Yes to the marathon. Yes to my first trip to Myrtle Beach. Yes to pain and hunger and boredom and dehydration and fatigue and Saturdays devoted to a long run and smelly shoes. Oh, boy.