Sunday, May 16, 2010

Choosing a First Marathon

I actually agonized over this decision. I made lists and budgets. I spent hours staring at a calendar and reviewing my training programs. In the end the decision came down to three factors of fairly equal import.

Location/Budget: With unlimited resources I could include options like Hawaii or even the Great Wall of China. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it) a tight budget this year makes that kind of travel out of the question. A local race also has the advantage of being near family and friends whose support will no doubt be a great motivator to help me reach 26.2. Still, a race as significant as the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC, for example, was not out of the question.

Timing/Training: I started on a marathon training program immediately after finishing my first half in February. The problem is that my training is peaking now, in May, and there are not many options for Marathons during the summer. That means waiting until the fall. My task will be to maintain my fitness during a long hot summer and then step up the training mid to late summer in preparation for the race. Considering my excitement about achieving this goal, and considering my current level of training, the earlier the race the better.

Unique Nature of the Event: There are a lot of considerations here, destination races, local races, themed events, fundraising, and the size of the event.

In the end I narrowed it down to four choices, most of them local in consideration of a tight budget this year.

1. Marine Corps Marathon, 10/31/2010, Washington DC

2. Space Coast Marathon, 11/28/2010, Cocoa, Florida

3. Jacksonville Marathon, 12/19/2010, Jacksonville, Florida

4. Disney Marathon, 1/9/2011, Orlando, Florida.

The final decision was tough. The MCM was very tempting, and the earliest race, but I just don’t think I should be spending the money for a trip like that this year.

Disney was 2nd behind the MCM considering the unique character of race. It’s huge, over 20,000 runners, and you get to run through all of the theme parks. The wait until January would be agonizing though.

Jacksonville is close, and a little earlier than Disney, but still pretty far off. For me, it also lacked the uniqueness I wanted for my first race.

The winner: The Space Coast Marathon. It’s a small race but its right in my backyard and close to family and friends who I can count on to be there to cheer me on. It has a unique sci fi theme that includes a pre-race dinner at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex under a Saturn V Rocket. It is also run fairly early in the season.

Now that the decision is made it’s a matter of counting down the days and logging a lot of miles.

I can’t wait.

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