Well, I went through quite a process to decide which spring marathon I would run to try to break 2:46. While there are numerous options, I narrowed it down to either Boston or Eugene. I received many other good suggestions including the LA Marathon, Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, the National Marathon and Napa. I decided Boston and Eugene provided the best options for me to achieve my goal.
I've run both before. Boston was my second marathon in 2005, and I ran Eugene in 2007 and 2008. Boston is attractive to me because I know there will be other very fast women there and likely other women trying to run 2:46. It is also a fairly fast course if you are a good downhill runner and if there's good weather. There's also the prize money enticement. The problems with Boston include an early elite women's start which you have to use if you want to compete for money. This is kind of cool since you get to run through a virgin crowd but it is not so cool if you fall off of a pack and are out there floundering on your own. The big unknown for Boston is always the weather. When I ran it in 2005, it was hot and miserable. They've had colder weather in the past couple of years, but headwinds are always a concern particularly on the last stretch into the city.
Eugene is a nice, small race. The scenery is beautiful, running along the Willamette River for much of the second half. It is fairly flat, and this year they're supposed to finish up at Hayward Field. In past years, the race started at Hayward and finished at Autzen Stadium. The weather has also been ideal for the 3 years that the race has been run. The main problem with the race is that it has not been very competitive. The first year saw some fast female finish times because several women were using it as a qualifier for the 2008 Olympic Trials. The second year, I led the race for a few miles and ultimately placed second with a 2:55. Last year's winner ran just under 3 hours. I have heard rumors that they plan to offer incentives for those trying to qualify for the Trials. That might bring in some fasties.
So, I decided on Eugene for the above reasons and a few more:
- I know the course (maybe not the exact course since they're finishing in a different location).
- I can drive there in less than 8 hours. So, no flying = no drug/alcohol pre-flight ritual.
- My family can come and watch since they all live fairly close, and it's easier to con my friends into running it too.
- Even without a fast pod of women to work with, I might find a couple of dudes running my pace. At Boston, that's not an option.
- Finishing at Hayward Field might give me that little spark I need at the end to slip in under the qualifying mark.
- Three, 100+ mile weeks in this plan, versus one in my Twin Cities plan.
- Eight, 20+ mile runs and 13 weekend long runs that total over 20 miles/day (including the two-a-days).
- Though I didn't think it was possible, my hill training became hillier.
- There are a lot more two-a-day workouts. Several of the weeks have five, two-a-days during the week.
- The Rock circuit returns in January with a vengeance! This is a serious butt-kicker of a strength workout that I highly encourage all runners to try.
- My core workouts doubled from 100 reps, 2 x per week to 200 reps, 2 x per week because I need to get rid of my beer gut.
- In addition to a major quality effort on Tuesdays and Saturdays, Thursday runs are faster and have some quality incorporated.
- My second run of the day has the occasional 1 mile at GMP or similar quality thrown in.
- Something called the wolverine has been added to my schedule in April. This is something new indeed!