[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.