My trip is now about halfway over and I've settled into a great little routine. I work during the week like a regular person, but spend evenings and weekends exploring whatever city we're currently in. (We've moved around every 3-4 days or so). Conducting normal life in a different country where I don't speak the language makes ordinary things like going to the market challenging, silly, and absurd: The other day, I almost added a scoop of sea salt to my laundry, instead of detergent. I do a lot of gesturing and apologizing.
I wrote over the winter/spring about work stress and ultimately de-prioritizing marathon training. Here, life is simple and I feel in balance again. I have physical and emotional distance from the office. I have a small carry-on that contains all of my possessions -- more than I need, even. (Though I do wish I brought a jacket; it's kind of chilly here and I accidentally shrunk the only sweater in another laundry mishap back in Paris.)
Because of the time change, I'm able to batch my emails by replying to everything in the morning before people wake up on the East coast. I get to spend the rest of my day on research. I'm playing with photography, writing in a paper notebook most mornings, and running more than I expected (though still no more than 2-3x a week).
AND, I'm slowly starting to get excited about the idea of running a fall marathon, instead of seeing it as another thing to stress me out. I started checking out options for this fall. Here are my criteria:
- Local: I have traveled for both of my marathons, but I'd rather support my local marathons and race closer to home. It would also be cheaper and there would be less opportunity for me to do idiot things, like wearing two different shoes on race day.
- Late October/early November: Later means getting to do more of my long runs in cool early fall weather, and less running in suffocating North Carolina humidity. It would also give me more time to ease back into running before training picks up.
- No big climbs: If this is going to be my BQ attempt, I want to make things as easy for myself as possible.
- No wind! Wind completely kills my will. I'd take big hills over wind any day.
The most local race for me is the City of Oaks Marathon in Raleigh. Sadly, it's a little too hilly for a BQ attempt. I'd love to run it someday, though.
Branching out to those races within 3-4 hours' driving distance, two made it to my final wish list:
The Outer Banks Marathon on 11/9. This is super flat, popular race along the water. The elevation chart lis basically just a straight line at sea level.
The Peak to Creek Marathon on 10/25. It has a, um, PR-friendly course:
Obviously, it's a net downhill course. The first 6-7 miles are flat, then there's a ton of elevation loss in the next 8 miles, then a long flat stretch/gradual downhill to the finish. I'm leaning toward it because:
- It's regularly in the top 10 of those "top Boston Qualifying marathons" lists, with 20-35% of runners qualifying since its inception.
- It's a small race (200-300 runners) with no spectators, but many runners will be laser-focused on getting their BQ or PR.
- Late October in North Carolina mountains: It's going to be gorgeous.
- It'd probably be cheaper to get a hotel or camp in the mountains that to get a hotel in OBX.
- The alternative, OBX along the water in early November, sounds so windy...
But on the other hand, I'm worried about a bunch of things:
- How to train for a long downhill? I have read some race-day strategies, but the knowledge that I won't get to train on a similar course is pretty scary.
- The course is packed dirt, which sounds great but I've read that the loose gravely pieces are slippery, and makes it not as fast as the elevation chart suggests.
- I already registered for the Medoc 10-miler the week before. I was hoping to actually race it, but if I do P2C I'd have to take it super easy.
So that's where I'm at so far.
There's also this, but FindMyMarathon doesn't share their methodology so I don't place much stock in it:
Do you have any opinions about flat vs. downhill courses for a big goal race? If you have run either race, please let me know what you think!