I was almost wooed by a flat, fast course in Sacramento at the California International
Marathon, or a similarly flat course in Miami in January, both of which would let me tackle a marathon again sooner rather than later after a disappointing experience at the Marine Corps Marathon Oct. 25.
But armed with the knowledge that, for me, it seems it’s always better to err on the side of too much rest, I’m officially setting my sights on the SunTrust National Marathon on March 20 instead.
In a post for Examiner.com, I list reasons why this race should be on every Washington-area runner’s list: it follows a District-centric route (as opposed to MCM’s Arlington-heavy one) and boasts an unusually fast, though hilly, course (check that Examiner.com post for elevation charts and specifics). But here’s why I think it’s the race for me:
1. It’s smaller than the major fall marathons. While the spectators along the Marine Corps Marathon course were electrifying, the crowds during the first five miles of the race were harrowing. I made the mistake of trying to run with a pace group the first several miles, and actually got caught in a scuffle of four or five runners that ended in one guy falling, hard, and the rest of us stopping to see if he was OK. It was scary stuff I don’t necessarily care to repeat. I think the National Marathon’s limited field of 4,000 marathoners and 8,000 half-marathoners will prevent that.
2. It’s all in my hometown. Running helps me learn and appreciate the ins and outs of wherever I happen to be living, and I don’t want to miss this opportunity to learn more about this awesome city I get to call home.
3. It’s a race I can train for and run in cool weather. Miami was tempting, but after four years of living and running in Florida, I have a serious aversion to running distance races in the heat. The National Half-Marathon was almost uncomfortably cold at the start last year – my ideal race-day temperature. Please remind me of this fact the first time I have to do a long run in sub-20-degree temps.
4. It lets me tap into my most valuable training resource: my amazing and supportive friends, who I know will come cheer for me if I just ask, and if I promise them some sort of yummy post-race dinner in return (friends: start putting in menu requests now). This one is the clincher for running this race — the Shamrock Marathon is the same weekend in Virginia Beach, and that one apparently has a flat, fast course. But it doesn’t have my own personal cadre of supportive spectators, so National Marathon won out.
I’m going to wait until the end of the year to sign up, to make sure I stay healthy and race-ready. But I’m starting to train for hills now, starting with this hilly monster of a route with Pacers Silver Spring tonight.