Spring marathon training…day one

The woods were exceptionally steamy that morning…boggy and silent, but for the buzz of the cicadas. I shuffled up to the picnic area, took a swig of warm Gatorade, and sat down on the bench. I stripped off my tank top, wrung out the sweat, and used it to wipe the insect carcasses from my face and neck. “I am never,” I said aloud, “doing this again.”  

That’s a rather vivid memory from one of my longish training runs last August. Or maybe it was September.

At the time, I was still planning on doing an early November marathon. I don’t remember what distance I was running that day, but it was long enough for the whole experience to be completely miserable from start to finish: from the 5 AM wake-up call (you know, “beating the heat”) to the punishing humidity that really wasn’t any better in the early morning anyway.

The revelation was a rather obvious one. Training for a fall marathon sucks when you live in the south. 

I decided a while ago that in 2012, it was either going to be a spring marathon or no marathon. (The latter was a tempting idea, but I didn’t really trust myself. Remember how last fall I said I wasn’t going to do a goal-race marathon? And then signed on for CIM a few weeks later? Marathons always have a way of sucking me in.)

So I went ahead and registered for…

The…what? I know, I hadn’t really heard of it either. The Gansett Marathon is a tiny race in Rhode Island. It’s held the same April weekend as Boston (on the Saturday before) and maintains the same qualifying standards.

And by tiny, I mean…tiny. 2011’s race had just 162 finishers. There’s very little fanfare: no finisher’s medals or bands playing on the course or anything like that. Finishers get an old-school cotton tee.

“That sounds terrible,” said my husband when I described it to him.

But I think it sounds perfect. I’ve done New York and Chicago and Marine Corps and I’ll probably submit for Boston in 2013…big races are fun, but there’s really something to be said about just getting in your car, driving to the start line, and running. I’m kind of over the major logistical hassles of megaraces.

Gansett also gets points for: (1) having a fairly flat course;  (2) being within striking distance of a fun city to visit post race (boozing and Boston spectating, anyone?); and (3) being at exactly the right time of year. March would have been too soon, not enough time for me to recover from CIM and complete a quality training cycle. May would have been too late, too dicey, weather-wise.

(It’s kind of funny because the last time I did a spring marathon was back in 2005. I was living in Cleveland and ran the Cleveland Marathon, which was in late May. I did my final 20-mile training run for that one in slushy snow.)

Anyway. It’s been almost exactly a month since CIM, and I think I’m ready to go through this again. I purposely kept my mileage rather light in the last couple of weeks, knowing that I’d be starting to ramp things up soon.

I was also rather liberal with the rest day policy…ahem.

(Basically I just didn’t run that day if I didn’t want to run. There will be plenty of days in the coming weeks when I’ll need to drag myself out there. No need to force it during last week of the off season.)

Side note: thanks to everyone who recommended RunningAhead – my miles have a new home! It seems like a great tool and I’m excited to start using it. Of course, I’ll keep posting weekly updates here, too.

14 weeks to go until Gansett and the work starts today. I don’t really have a training plan; I’m basically going to do what I did when I trained for CIM, just a little farther and a little faster. Because 3:29 is fantastic, but I think I might be able to do a little better. It’s on, marathon. 

18 responses to “Spring marathon training…day one

  1. Cotton t-shirt? No finisher’s medals? Gansett sounds cool. Honestly, the appeal of large races escapes me and I’ve definitely come to prefer smaller, no-fanfare “runner’s races” that allow you to focus inward and avoid distraction (in lieu of all the absurd, crowded hype-factory circus races that seem to be most frequently chronicled on running blogs). I hope you like it!

  2. Does this mean you’ll be at Boston? PLZ MEET ME AT THE FINISH LINE WITH TEQUILA.

  3. Gansett kind of sounds…perfect. If I were a little more ambitious with my running right now, I’d declare that to be an ideal first marathon and start training for it.

    But I’m not, so I won’t.

    Excellent choice! I also love the cow in their logo.

  4. That’s so exciting! Rhode Island is a great state for running. :-)

    I live in Boston!! I’m all up for some shenanigans.

  5. I want to run Gansett so badly!! I volunteered at it last year. The race director is extremely well-organized. The course is pretty flat, the race-day logistics are easy, and it seems like a great race. I used to live not too far from Narragansett and really miss it. I’d be happy to give you some tips and suggestions about the area (tip #1 … you need a car).

    • Cool, thanks! I’m sure I’ll definitely need some info and input once I get in to trip planning mode. Good to know on the rental car situation!

  6. Oh, and the 2011 T-shirt was not cotton. It was a nice tech material.

  7. Sounds sweet! And the race logo has a cow in it, so it’s gotta be good. 😉 Even though I definitely don’t live in the South, I still agree that spring marathons provide easier training conditions. Smart pick.

  8. Sounds awesome! I can definitely see the appeal of small-time racing (though I don’t speak from much experience as I’ve done two half marathons and a smattering of 5Ks).
    I also want to say that I agree with the above comments about cows. Anything with an animal in its logo has a thumbs up from me.

  9. Sounds like a nice switch to me. I’m down with cotton. Old cotton? Eh… maybe I’ll just stick with bananas n’ gatorade. :) You’ll do great!

  10. I remember reading about Gansett a few months back – sounds like a lot of fun! I also just started using RunningAhead, & so far I love it. Easy to use, lots of data fields to choose from, & not too gimmicky.

  11. Personally I like smaller races so I think it sounds great. Although that is a REALLY small race!

  12. I’m kind of jealous that you can do good wintertime training- that’s what living in Chicago will do to you. I saw someone running outside yesterday and wanted to throw them a blanket. Sounds like a great race for you, though!

  13. The Gansett marathon sounds absolutely delightful. I, too, love to do smaller races every now and then. They’re just so much… easier.

    Unrelated: what had you in Cleveland? I did my undergrad at Case Western and lived there from 1997-2002. Love that town!

  14. Carrie Reiser

    I find small-town running events to be extremely gratifying. Small crowd of quality folks, everyone is friendly, and sometimes they have some neat treats at the finish. Bobby and I ran a 20k that we randomly found while vacationing in extremely rural Vermont a couple of summers ago. It was the best race experience I’ve ever had! We met some great people and when Bobby won and I placed 3rd we were treated like hero’s or something, pictures in all the local papers, etc etc. Super fun.

  15. I live like 15 miles from Narragansett! Rhode Island is the SHIZZ!!! Is it not considered stalkerish if I tell you now that I will likely hunt you down (in a completely non-violent, non-creepy way) and invite you to have a beer with me in Providence when you’re here!? DUDE!!!! HAVE A BEER WITH ME AT TRINITY BREWHOUSE!!!! I’M BUYING!!!!!!
    Signed, your Internet Friend who you don’t know, but I think of you like my Internet Friend, Amy from RI. Who is not creepy at all, just seems that way while excitedly writing comments on blogs.

  16. Pingback: The Gansett Goal Post | eat, drink, and run