Our method for picking races for 2015 basically involved staring at a list of ones that worked with my schedule (since I can't take any time of at the beginning of the month, yay accounting) and allocating the number of vacation days we would want to use for each candidate. After a few hours of deliberating, we managed to pick our six. (I have more vacation time than Michael and saved some up this year, so he's not really affected by choice to add a seventh race.)
There is also a 1-2 month section of the year when I really can't take any time off, and I only know it will fall between late summer and Thanksgiving. (This gives me huge fits, let me tell you.) With this in mind, we tried to steer clear of any potential conflicts, which is why there's only one fall race, despite it being peak season. (Hey, we figured Rhode Island can be seen in a day!)
Without further ado, I present my 2015 race schedule:
Myrtle Beach Marathon - February 14, South Carolina
After having to endure the entire polar vortex last winter without any respite, I'm super excited to have warm-ish locale to look forward to! I've been to Virginia Beach, so I imagine Myrtle Beach will have a similar flavor, but I'm hoping it will have a more relaxed vibe in the off-season. Plus where else would be a better place to spend Valentines Day?
And holy cow, people were not joking that prices are way marked down in the winter. We scored a king suite with an ocean view within walking distance of the race for 53% off! I can't imagine going in the summer - I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the price we normally would've paid for our hotel.
The course is known for being flat and fast (for realsies), and the average high is only 61. I'm training with RLRF for this race, and I'm hoping to run a 4:28. This will be by far the largest race we've done (MDI currently holds the record right now, with about 800 marathon finishers), and it'll be a new experience to have bigger crowds and a pacer to run with. I love me my small races, but I'm looking forward to trying something a little bit different, and maybe getting an extra boost.
Antalya Marathon - March 1, Asia
I'm not going to lie, I had to talk Eager Feet Mom off a ledge when I told her I'd be going to Turkey. After reassuring her that a beach town heavily visited by Germans is not crawling with PKK, she got pretty excited for me. I'm super fortunate that my best friend is in Georgia (the country, not the state) teaching English this year, so it will be relatively convenient for her to meet me in Turkey. It will also be relatively convenient for me to have someone fluent in Turkish to drag my white self around.
Our game plan is to spend a few days in Istanbul and then continue on to Antalya. I was originally planning to run the Istanbul Marathon this month until work got in the way, but I'm almost glad it didn't work out, because Antalya looks gorgeous! It's set on the Mediterranean among the mountains, and I can't wait to run there. This race is also organized by a German company, so I feel more secure knowing I will be able to understand the race officials and most of the participants.
I'm a tad bit nervous that the course limit is only five hours, which is why I'm feeling some pressure to pull off a 4:28 in Myrtle Beach, to know I have some cushion in Antalya. I checked out results from prior years, and it doesn't appear to be a hard limit, and I know Turks are super laid-back, so it hopefully will be a non-issue.
I have a semi-secret dream of doing the Seven Continents as well as the 50 States, and this will be a fun and unique way to sneak Asia in. Plus it will be another warm weather location. Bring it on, winter!
Knoxville Marathon - March 29, Tennessee
When I first looked at Tennessee races, I was leaning away from Knoxville because I somehow had gotten it into my head that it was a huge race. Once I realized it was my ideal size (about 800 finishers), my interest was piqued. It has great reviews, and I'm particularly looking forward to the special marathoner-only indoor finisher area. It'll also be nice to have a low-key travel situation after flying for the previous two marathons.
The course is designed to show off the various neighborhoods of Knoxville. Growing up in southeast Michigan, I associate major cities with blight and decay, so I'm excited to see a city where you can walk around without fear of death. (Example - the now vacant Science Center had a sign that said no gum, and I legitimately thought it said no guns every time I saw it from a distance.)
Everyone does seem to warn the course is pretty hilly, especially in the second half. Considering I live in Flatland Central, I'm not really sure how I'm going to prepare for this. I will probably use my patented "screw it, I'll just suffer on race day" method.
Blue Ridge Marathon - April 18, Virginia
My other method for dealing the hills at Knoxville will be reminding myself how deep the pain cave will be going just a few weeks later at Blue Ridge. This is billed as America's toughest road marathon, though apparently another race in Arizona competes with them for this title. Considering that race involves running up a mountain and then back down, I'm pretty scared. I could probably find a hilly location to drive to for some long runs, but there aren't any mountains anywhere.
There is a very generous course limit of eight hours (I probably would've skipped this race without that insurance policy). I may have to take a very conservative strategy and do a lot of power-walking, but I'm looking forward to getting up close with a part of the country I've never seen before. My true love is the high deserts of the West, but I imagine these forested mountains will speak to my Michigander heart.
|Which may not actually be able to appreciate the scenery because of how hard it's beating....|
|This was the only picture I could find, so let's roll with it.|
I did this race in 2014 and counted it for Kentucky, but Michael wasn't with me, so I'm excited for him to experience it. It seems like this marathon is basically a rite of passage for 50 Staters. (It probably helps there are so few races in West Virginia.) It is a giant pain in the butt to get to, but they work very hard to keep costs down, and all the little details make this race worth it.
|But remember, this is not pretty enough to take a picture of!|
I won't lie though, this was a tough course, and other runners told me it was about 10 degrees cooler than in other years. I'm hoping we will luck out with good weather, but you never know. I didn't find the hills nearly as challenging as I had expected, so I'm hoping I can be a little more strategic this year, now that I'm familiar wit the course. Plus I know the firehouse will be about two degrees at night, so I'm hoping I will do better after I get more than four hours of sleep!
Missoula Marathon - July 12, Montana
Other than Antalya, the race I'm most geeked for next year is Missoula. I've been to Montana briefly, but my parents and I never made it up to Glacier. (We always wanted to hit multiple parks per trip, and there just isn't much else up there.) Pictures I've seen of the area look absolutely stunning, and I can't wait to see it in person. I wish I had more vacation days so we could spend more time there, but that just means we will have to pack the fun in, sore legs be damned.
Besides Myrtle Beach, this will easily be our most expensive trip next year. (I'm paying for Turkey out of my tax refund, so I'm not counting that in the same bucket.) But I think it will be worth every penny. Everyone loves the race, and everyone loves the area. Plus I've always wanted to get out there before 2020, when supposedly a lot of the glaciers will have melted.
The actual race itself starts out in the country and then ends through downtown Missoula. I'm expecting this to be spectacular as well. I don't think you can lose when it comes to being out West!
Newport Marathon - October 11, Rhode Island
First off, there is nothing worse than someone excitedly asking you where you'll be running next year and having to tell them Rhode Island. I have a map of the states I've run up in my cube, and the pins I use to mark the race location are literally bigger than Rhode Island. It's certainly not the most glamorous explanation.
That being said, just about everyone I meet that has spent time on the East Coast tells me how beautiful Newport is, and the reviews seem to reflect that as well. My chiro used to live in Newport and was all set to lecture me if I told him I had picked a different race for Rhode Island.
This is another area I've never been really been to (other than Maine, which I don't think really counts), so I'm excited to do some exploring. Plus, flights from Cleveland to Hartford are shockingly cheap, so it won't even break the bank, despite being a "flying" race.
Most of the course runs along the water, and it also goes through some parks. Running along the ocean and through Acadia in Maine was incredible, and I can't wait to do it again. I'm also hoping this race will give me ammunition as to why so-called "boring" states are actually some of the best. (Looking at you, Nebraska!)
This schedule feels a little bit scary, but I'm way more excited than nervous. The only real bummer is that I will only be able to fit in a full training cycle between Missoula and Newport, so I'm determined to work really hard leading up to Myrtle Beach, as it will be difficult to build fitness for a long time afterwards. I'm open to suggestions on how to set up my training in between races, especially when the gap is an awkward four weeks.
It'll be one fun challenge, that's for sure.
How do you train when there's a two to four week gap between races?
Do you have any tips on these marathons?