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.