Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tattoos and other transactions

I have one tattoo.  It's a wavy black line around my ankle that looks at first glance to be an ankle bracelet.  And that was the point -- it amuses me that people keep doing a double-take, trying to figure out which one it is.  After all, a woman with an ankle tattoo is a completely different type of person from a woman wearing an ankle bracelet...

I've never regretted it, because I followed tattoo rule #1 -- I settled on the design, and then waited a full year.  I was happy with the design 365 days later, so I went to Rick's.  Some 20 years later, I still love it.

[I also followed tattoo rule #2 -- I got it on a place on my body that was unlikely to shrink, expand, sag, or wrinkle as I aged]

There's been a few other tattoos that I've debated getting; but no other design has made it longer than 3 months before I changed my mind. 


I used to say that I'd never run a marathon.  It was my joke for years -- I did the training, but just skipped the race.  And it worked well for me -- I do strongly believe that marathon training benefits all long distance running, since all long distance events are primarily aerobic.

Why did I say I wouldn't run one?  Because I was pretty sure I'd suck at them.  I handle pain well, boredom less well.  And I was also worried about my nutrition -- at the time I was unable to handle ANYTHING digestively while running.  No gels, no shotbloks, nothing.  They all made me sick.  And I really stink at drinking water from cups while seated, let alone running.  If you can't take on nutrition and hydrate during a marathon, you're in trouble.

And then I joined a running team.  And started training with marathoners, and I started noticing that the long runs were by far the easiest workout for me each week. 

And I also went through a whole long ordeal last spring that resulted in figuring out what was going on with my digestive system.  I made some dietary changes (well, a LOT of dietary changes), and then the longstanding inflammation of my insides subsided and I was able to actually eat gels while running without doubling up on the side of the road.

And I mentally laced up.

I gave myself a 6 month waiting period, and then I asked my coach what he thought about me trying a marathon.  "A marathon would be good!" and so there we were.  But...which one?


I'd love to give myself another long waiting period, simply because a marathon can etch itself upon you, not unlike a tattoo.  If I'm going to commit, I'd best be comfortable with the design.  But in this day, where races can sell out in hours or days, you can't wait too long.

So, I hemmed and hawed and bugged my coach and sent links to my boyfriend and played on RunnersWorld and surfed MarathonGuide.

Here's the ones I was considering, and my final decision.

5.  Rock and Roll Arizona - Phoenix, AZ, January 20, 2013
This was originally my first choice.  It's in January, on the same weekend as the Inauguration, which is a huge plus -- DC suffers a plague of Tourons every 4 years around January 20th that is far worse than the summer infestations. RnR AZ would give me an excuse to escape.  Plus, the January date would allow me to run all of my beloved fall races.  And, the course is fast and flat.
They do the same thing in front of my house. 
While wearing those stupid FBI hats

 But, of course, it could also potentially be hot.  And I was concerned about the super dry air and my exercise induced asthma. And there's also the possibility of December/January snowfall interfering with my 20 milers. And finally, there's the matter of the 5 hour flight each way.  For my first marathon, it's better to be able to focus on the marathon without the additional complication of long travel.

4.  California International Marathon - Sacramento, CA, December 2, 2012
Oh so tempting.  A fast course that "rewards those who run a very patient first half" -- as someone who likes to run hard negative splits, this was music to my ears.  And the weather is reliably perfect in temperature.  Some chance of rain, but I like running in rain, and have cranked out long runs in it before.  And the December date would allow me to run other fall races that I love.

But...again, the lengthy flight to the other side of the country.

3.  Richmond Marathon - Richmond, VA, November 10, 2012
I love the Richmond Half Marathon.  As soon as registration opened for it last year, I was in.  And snagged my hotel room at the start/finish to boot.  And it has a lot to recommend it.  It's within driving distance, and it's a well-run race on a fast course, with weather that was delightfully chilly last year.  And a lot of my teammates are running it and my coach would be there.  And I can swap registrations from half to full very easily, even the day before the race.

So, all those pluses, AND my coach recommended Richmond as a possible first time marathon.  But somehow I'm just not feeling it.  Maybe the fact that I've already run the half makes it harder to visualize running the full, maybe it's something else.  But not feeling it.  And running the Richmond Marathon would mean that I would likely skip the Army 10 Miler, which is 3 weeks before -- my coach is big on the last 20 miler 3 weeks out, and I want to do my first marathon by the book (and more specifically his book).  Plus, no Thanksgiving Turkey Trot race, due to post marathon recovery.

2.  Rehoboth Beach Seashore Marathon - Rehoboth, DE, December 8, 2012
Flat course, driving distance, and perfect timing.  Weather would most likely be COLD (good).  This one has appeal, and is actually my fallback race.  But... it's a small race, which raises some concern about whether I'd have people running at my same pace, and also about the support on course (to be fair, the race has consistently gotten good reviews).  Additionally, since the race is on a beach, there's a concern about high winds on race day, which would mitigate the advantages of the flat course.

1.  Philadelphia Marathon - Philadelphia, PA, November 18, 2012
Ultimately, the winner of my registration fee (paid on Monday).  Fast course, and the weather's been either perfect or frigid in past years.   It's a large race.  Large enough that I don't have a realistic chance at an age group award, and that's a very good thing - I can focus on simply running an intelligent and measured first marathon, rather than being tempted into dangerous aggression.

My coach and teammates will be there, and that's also a very good thing.  It will be fun to be with a group, and additionally, since I intend to race the marathon watchless (since that's worked for all my shorter races), it will help to have my coach on the sidelines in the first miles of the race to yell at me to slow down, since my watch won't do that.

And, though Philly's technically further from DC than Richmond, it's actually an easier trip -- it's 3 hours on a usually moving highway, punctuated by a stop in Delaware for sweet potato fries.  Richmond is 3 hour stop and go nightmare, punctuated by a comfort break at a random 7-11.

Running Philly means that I can also race the Army 10 Miler (4 weeks before).  I don't get to race a Turkey Trot, or the Richmond Half, or the Marine Corps 10K  But sacrifices have to be made.

Let's hope that I'm as happy with this decision as I was with the tattoo.


  1. This is excellent, and I'm very excited to see how you do. And really, I don't think a marathon is boring - and that's even with the much slower pace that I run. Especially for a big one like Philly, there's a lot of crowd support.

    And you can still DO a Turkey Trot. Just maybe not RACE it. (I did the Alexandria 5 miler after Richmond just for fun. Definitely not really racing.)

  2. Yah! Congratulations on making the decision. I am excited for you.

  3. Wow, Cris, this is HUGE! Congratulations on taking the plunge. Philadelphia sounds like the perfect choice. I definitely don't recommend RnR Arizona because it's hot and sunny with no shade. Plus your body has to adjust to the time zone change. And you can still run your beloved 10-miler!

    And. . . you're guaranteed a PR.

  4. Excellent decision! So many pluses going for it, especially sweet potato fries on the way up here. :) You're going to have such an exciting first marathon, I'm all a-tingle for you.

  5. Wait, George thinks running a marathon is a good idea? I don't understand.

    I feel the same way you do about triathlon training - I prefer the training to the race.

    Philadelphia is a GREAT race and I'm sure I will be there to cheer you on! Congrats on taking this big step!

  6. Glad you're giving the marathon a go. Why not, right?

    I think Philly is a great choice. I might have to run it myself next time I succumb to the marathon's siren call ...

    The main drawback of running marathons is the other things you have to sacrifice.

  7. I must say that I LOVED Rehoboth. LOVED. I have yet to repeat a marathon, but when I do that's where I'm going. So when you sign up for marathon #2, that's which one you should pick.

    That being said, Philly was a great race as well. I think it's a good choice for your first marathon!

  8. As a new(ish) reader, I didn't realize you'd never run a marathon just from following your training. I like the "doing the training, not the race" attitude/practice, because having to commit to a race months in advance just stresses my injury-prone ass OUT. That said, sometimes it's time to just give it a go. I hope you and Philly will be very happy together!

  9. Excellent Working Dear Friend Nice Information Share all over the world.God Bless You.trendy cycle shops london

  10. I've been wanting to run Philly. I think you made a great choice. It should be flat, fast, with great weather. Excited to read about your training along the way.

  11. Its nice that you share the watchless racing!! I have been racing without a watch for a lot of time and its great, you dont have to worry about splits if the condition are not in your favor, nor limit yourself if you are in better shape than presumed!! Would you race without a watch( or in your case, not analize the garmin data during the race) even in a marathon?

    For how long have you been following this approach? What is your favorite thing about the watchless racing?