Thursday, October 25, 2007

Anatomy of a New Plan

I’m still in figure out what next mode. I know I want to run another marathon and the only thing for sure is that I want to run one before the summer. My current top 3 marathons in no particular order (unless you count chronological) are:

  • Tampa 2/10

  • Boston 4/21

  • Cleveland 5/18

  • Here are the factors I need to consider:

    Training Conditions: Winters here in Cleveland can be brutal for training. Trail running is all but impossible once the snow starts. That leaves treadmills and roads as my only options. I don’t mind running in the cold really, but running on roads all the time last winter seemed to wear me down. And then do I even need to explain why treadmills aren’t ideal? Besides the normal boring aspect, there’s the fact that my current gym is at work and the treadmills are not accessible on the weekends—lame. So, when we have a situation this winter when the roads are completely icy on both Saturday and Sunday (which we will), I either have to scrap the long run or run it very tentatively and risk injury. Also, it’s dark so much of the time too. How does this affect the decision?

  • Tampa: my big months will be December and January. There is little light, but the snow is not yet completely entrenched everywhere and I still could be able to do some trail running. I also have a lot of time off of work for the holidays in the middle of that, which helps. Finally, I feel like I’d more pick up where I left off and wouldn’t have to mentally ramp back up. On the negative side, there are very few good tune-up race possibilities, but I could run lots of nice shorter local Spring races.

  • Boston: my big months will be February and March. Yeah. It doesn’t get much worse around here than late February and early March. The snow is stuck everywhere. There is no chance for trail running. The winter has worn us all down and it’s just hard to stay motivated. Not that I can’t, of course, it’s just hard. Again, not many good tune-up races, but also I'd miss out on a couple of nice Spring races that fall too close to this marathon on the calendar.

  • Cleveland: my big months would be March and April. There would be more light and the weather would break early in this time span. There are a lot of good local tune-up possibilities.

  • Race Weather: Headwinds and me don’t mix as evidenced by my last two marathons. I need to reduce the possibility of that. Cold or hot is preferable to windy.

  • Tampa: The course has a long out and back along the ocean, which seems to me to invite the possibility for a nast headwind at some point during the race. The potential for heat and humidity scare me, too.

  • Boston: It can’t get worse than last year. Or can it? I feel likeBoston is due for some good weather!

  • Cleveland: The headwinds would most likely come at the beginning rather than the end, which is good. It could be hot, since it’s later in the season, but typically isn’t too bad.

  • Race Experience: I think this will be my last competitive marathon for a while. I want it to be a good one. How does this affect the decision?

  • Tampa: I have no idea. It would be nice to be in a more pleasant climate in February, but beyond that I can’t say the idea of going to a place I’ve never been before and have no ties to is very appealing. Also, it looks like the start is 6AM! Eek!

  • Boston: The crowd support would be great, but even with the significantly improved qualifying time, I am still running the risk of being stuck in a herd. I suspect I’d be in the 4th corral. At least this herd would be moving faster than the 9th corral herd! It would be nice to conquer the beast too and redeem myself after last year’s performance.

  • Cleveland: The crowd support would be thin for much of the race, particular the second half. Although I would have my own fans in my friends and family and this would more than make up for that. Also, to race well on my home turn would be incredible. Theoretically, I should place pretty high here—if I have a good race top 3? That would be pretty rad in my home court! And my Grandma’s could come watch, too!

  • Race Courses: I don’t necessarily need a fast course for this race. I don’t want an insanely challenging course, though either. I mainly just want a course that will allow me to race a marathon from beginning to end.

  • Tampa: Nice and flat. But, I still worry about wind.

  • Boston: Well, it’s Boston. I think I can handle the course, but it also would be somewhat intimidating just because I didn’t handle it that well last year.

  • Cleveland: It’s not a fabulous course by any stretch, but I am already very familiar with the first half since I’ve run the ½ marathon twice now. I am also very familiar with the last 5 miles or so. The only real potential course pitfall is a pretty significant hill at around mile 25. Although, I run that hill at least once or twice a week all year. It’s not that intimidating.

  • Mrp: Mrp is planning to run Boston. I want to be able to support him as much as he supported me leading up to Columbus.

  • Tampa: I’d get the marathon over with early and then be more available to mrp during his peak training weeks and during the race.

  • Boston: Well, I’d be a little wrapped up in my own race to be very supportive. I can still be supportive, but it’s not even remotely the same.

  • Cleveland: I would be in the middle of my hard training when mrp heads to Boston, but that’s fine. I would do my big workout on Friday or Saturday so I could not be preoccupied and could be a good spectator with him on Sunday for the OT and on Monday when he’s running. Plus, he’d inspire me for my race!

  • So, based on all this, doesn't it sound like Cleveland is the right choice?


    joe positive said...

    just a slight correction re Tampa: the course is along the bay, about 30 miles from the nearest oceanlike thing (Gulf of Mexico). But it still can get windy. Not as windy as, say, Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach. But yes, it can get a little windy.

    re the rest of it: I think you should go with your gut feeling, and if Cleveland seems best to you, then so be it. But it would nice if you (and Tusca!) came down here and I could buy you guys some beers. On the other hand, I may end drinking beers with you in Boston.

    E-Speed said...

    I think Cleveland is a good choice. But it can get windy on Marginal. Out of the three if it was me I'd still choose Cleveland.

    The Salty One said...

    JP: Bay, ocean--if it's not a polluted lake or river on fire it's all the same to us in Cleveland :) Are you running or spectating in Boston? Regardless, we're getting a beer!

    E--Duh! When I was thinking about the course for some reason I thought to myself that the wind would usually be at our back on the Marginal, but you're right. Hmmm. Maybe this is going to be a harder decision than I though... Thanks for pointing that out!

    Joseph P. Wood said...

    But I won't be in Boston...sniffle, sniffle...

    The Salty One said...

    But I won't be in Boston

    Well, why the hell not?!

    Now that E reminded me of the headwind possibilities during miles 20-24 I am now not so hot on Cleveland. Now I'm thinking one of the other two makes more sense. Really, nothing makes sense. I think I just need to chill out and take my time...

    kenyarunb said...

    hey salty!

    it kind of sounds like Cleveland - despite the possibility of a headwind late in the race - is the most ideal. tampa is so so soon and it might be hard to ask your legs to produce a PR that quickly after you just ran a marathon.

    boston is - well, it's boston. the crowds are great and the course has the potential to be fast . . . but who knows with that race! i will be there to cheer on if you do decide to run it :)

    thank you for the comments! as much as i feel like throwing myself back into a hard core running routine, i know that the risk for injury 20-28 days out from a marathon is HUGE. i have learned this hard way: after every marathon i have run, i immediately ditched the recovery aspect and got hurt. i am - for once - trying to avoid that.

    it's okay to give yourself a little break ;) you will feel sooooo much fresher! plus, you will come back stronger because your body has had a chance to work out all of the kinks.


    Lloyd said...

    Wow. You've thought this through.

    Have you considered the Flying Pig? Sure, its not the flattest course, but I can attest that a fast result can be had -- I've scored my best two marathons in Cincinnati. The one main hill ends at mile 9 and the rest of the course is a net downhill. Plus, the crowd support and race organization is second to none.

    A plan for the Pig could allow for an easy plan B in Cleveland.

    I can't argue, however, with the prospect of running/meeting joplus.

    Good luck with your choice.