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?
I qualified at the Sacramento/California International Marathon and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a BQ!
Abby @ Change of Pace
I say go for Phoenix! I think 17 weeks is more than enough-‘you’ve run marathons before and you have been doing a lot. Plus, don’t underestimate trail running!
I also think 17 weeks is perfect because it’ll give you the perfect amount of time to concentrate on running without getting annoyed with having to follow a tough plan for too long.
I ran my first half marathon, marathon, and ironman in the Phoenix/Scottsdale/Tempe area and loved each and every race.
Lastly, RnR SD is pretty big and probably a busy course whereas with the Phoenix one you will most likely have more space to do your thing!
Jesse - Questionably Texan
I’ve never worked with a coach, so I have no thoughts on that particular aspect, but I say go for Phoenix. You’re not starting from scratch, even if you haven’t been running as much lately. 17 weeks is enough time for you to train for a BQ race. Do it!
You can always look into the 26.2 with Donna National Marathon for Breast Cancer here in Jacksonville! 🙂
I would say to start training and play it by ear. If you don’t feel ready by Phoenix drop to the half and use it as a training run.
Go for Phoenix! You’re experienced enough that 17 weeks is fine. Just hold off on registering, and if the longs runs/mileage feels like too much, then readjust your plan. I think you can do it though. And consider that sometimes longer training plans have an adverse effect on race day. With Phoenix, you’ll probably avoid being burnt out and you’ll be able to focus on quality training more than quantity. Plus…that course!
You probably already know my choice, given the feedback I provided on Twitter! But to expand on that, I have done both San Diego and Phoenix – granted I did the half in SD this year, but there is just something special about the Phoenix Marathon. (It will be plenty cool at the start, you will most likely be shivering actually. 😉 The downhill is a great boost at the start and then the uphill is around mile 5.5 or 6 and then you have plenty of downhill to recover on to get you to the finish strong. I’m also a firm believe in listening to your body, so that needs to be your decision – only you will know for sure. As far as courses go though, I vote Phoenix. 🙂 If you choose it, see ya out there! I registered for 2014, 3 days after I completed the inaugural full this year. (The inaugural in 2012 was only a half, which was awesome too.) OH! And, because it is a smaller race, and because they are awesome, every single support station had half banana pieces and sliced oranges. Real food was SUCH a nice change!
I’d say go for Phoenix! 17 weeks is enough time to train, and you won’t have to drag out the training over many months. Plus I’m also partial to smaller local races where you can run your own race instead of big ones like RnR where the crowds can be overwhelming.
meghan @ little girl in the big world
I think it sounds like you know exactly what you should do, and I’d say go for it! I mean, like you said, there’s always another shot! Plus net elevation loss? That doesn’t come around too often.
I haven’t BQd so I don’t have any good advice..but I’m going to throw out the Napa Valley Marathon (which I’m running!) March 2nd if you are looking for other races around then. It’s also net downhill and I have friends who have BQd there. Excuse to go to wine country too! And after having lived in Phoenix for 5 years I wouldn’t count on March being cool. One year it hit the first 100F day by April so in March its already getting warm if that is something that bothers you.
kelly @ racesrepsramblings
I’d go for Phoenix with San Diego as the perfect back-up. I know I tend to get race anxiety pretty badly (that I feel it affects how well I could do)… I did the “back-up race” thing last spring and it allowed me the peace of mind that I have another chance if I wasn’t ready at the first race (for me it was breaking the 2 hour half time). Plus Phoenix would be fun and a new place – it would be a fun race no matter what! Good luck with your decision!