My “Master Plan” for the 2014 racing season has had a wrench thrown in it. I can no longer run the Mountains to Beach Marathon, which was to be my big BQ attempt of next year. I chose this race based on the fact that I spectated it last year and enjoyed it, but mostly because it’s known to be a fast course and a top Boston Qualifying race. However, my Sister in Law and future Brother in Law just set their wedding date for the day before the race and Mike and I must cancel our plans (I’m super excited for them of course and we told them not to worry about our plans when picking their wedding date!).
So now what? Of course as soon as I heard the news I started typed in Google “Top Boston Qualifying Races.” The same website that I always reference came up and there it was, taunting me – Mountains to Beach had the 3rd most qualifiers as a percent of finishers. I scanned the list for a spring marathon reasonably close to San Diego or at least the WEst Coast, and came up short. Nothing!
I remembered that some of the Oiselle team is potentially going to run the Phoenix Marathon so I looked it up and found that it’s a small, relatively new (2012 was the inaugural race), and has a net decline of 1,000 feet (and it’s still a Boston Qualifying race). It has a few climbs, which I actually like, but the last few miles have a nice downhill finish. I did a quick race report blog search on Google, found a couple promising race reports and talked about it with Mike. The good news is, we could drive there and I have a very good friend who lives in Scottsdale, so lodging would be free and we wouldn’t have to pay for flights. The weather should be cool at 6:30 a.m. on March 1 (average low in the low 50s but high in the low 70s). It started sounding more and more like the race.
However, Phoenix is 17 weeks away. Although I have been strength training and working out consistently, I have not been running a ton. In fact, I just took nearly 2.5 weeks off of running completely for our wedding and honeymoon. Since returning though, I’ve had some great runs on the trails and have been running 4-5 times a week. I haven’t worn a Garmin in well over a month (maybe 2?!) so I have no idea what my paces are right now but I do know they aren’t fast.
Can I get back what I lost? I think back to last March when I ran a 1:42 something at San Diego Half. I made so much progress in just 5 weeks from the Surf City Marathon and even more progressing from the Long Beach Half to Surf City. I think I was ready for the BQ last year but I let my mind get in the way – I still don’t think it was my training. I know that I can make fast gains but I’m not sure that I can make them that fast.
The other race I’m considering is the San Diego Rock n Roll. It has its advantages in that I’ve run the race before, it’s local and it gives me 3 more months to train. However, the course has changed and I haven’t heard wonderful things about it (the half course is much faster than it used to be but the full has you running miles 21-23 on the 163 freeway….). It’s also a huge race which I don’t like. However, in 3 months I can probably gain more speed than I would gain just from Phoenix having an easier course.
Soo….what would you do? Train hard for 4 months (and hire a coach?) to race a more advantageous course OR build the base on your own, then hire a coach (or not) and give yourself 5 solid months to prepare for a slightly tougher, more local course? Or go for it at Phoenix knowing you can always try again in 3 months at RnR SD?