Sunday, June 14, 2015

How will I choose my races now that I'm done with the states?

My friend David recently posted a blog entry describing his favorite races. He has a few different ways to classify races to narrow down to his favorites, and there are several races that he returns to again and again. I was recently asked what my favorite marathons were from my 50 states quest. It was a difficult question to answer because there is no single favorite, and depending on the person asking, I might give a different answer. I responded that 2014 Chicago Marathon was probably my favorite urban race, and 2013 Madison Marathon in Montana (throwback blog post coming soon) was my favorite for scenery. But choosing only those two as favorites doesn’t feel right. I have run a lot of races and many of them were wonderful, but often for very different reasons. Instead of choosing to return to my favorite races, I usually opt to run new ones. That makes it even more difficult to select a favorite.

Heading to the finish at 2014 Chicago Marathon, my friend Rachael in the pink

Now that I’m finished with my 50 states, how will I decide which races to run in the future? Though it could happen, I’m not likely to return to one of my previous favorites. There are just so many great marathons and half marathons out there, and I like to experience new ones before I repeat old ones. Of course I do sometimes repeat a race. I think I’m 6 years running at my local Thanksgiving day turkey trot, and I have run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler 5 times. For marathons and half marathons, I’ve done some races twice, but never more than that. I think I’ll continue this way, usually selecting new races, but sometimes repeating a good one, especially if it’s local.

2005 Cherry Blossom was my first, and coldest

2012 Cherry Blossom was part of my return to distance running

But what I really want to do is run some bucket list races. This includes all the World Marathon Majors. Of those, I’ve already run Chicago Marathon and I’m scheduled to run Berlin Marathon this fall. The majors are all on lottery or charity entry, except Boston Marathon which depends on time qualification (or charity entry). Because charity fundraising is time-consuming and difficult, I will continue to try to gain lottery entries for these races. If Scot and I both enter the lottery for these races and one of us gets in, we may consider charity for the other one of us. Or, like we did with Berlin, Scot got in via lottery and I got my bib through a tour operator. We’ll see how that goes over the next couple years. I don’t have a Boston strategy yet. Maybe when I’m in a higher age group, and I dedicate a year to solid fitness and training, then I could possibly qualify. But that’s not on the radar at this point.

I’ll also do more international marathons, not just the World Marathon Majors. My club Marathon Globetrotters has new “flag” levels every 10 countries. I’m still just a provisional member, having run in 5 countries. I’d like to get to “one flag” level, which has full voting rights, by running in 10 countries. Maybe that will happen in 2016 or 2017. I’ll certainly consider running the Marathon Globetrotters reunion races each year. The last one was at Marathon Bahamas, and the next one is in October at Jersey Marathon in the British channel islands. Unfortunately, neither of these reunion races gains me a new marathon continent. And that’s another goal of mine: run a marathon on all 7 continents. I’ve pretty much been repeating North America and Europe. I hope next year’s Marathon Globetrotters reunion is on a new continent for me. But regardless, I’ll eventually reach that goal. Here are some race ideas I have for the remaining continents:

These international marathons are longer-term goals. They are more expensive, for one thing. They also require more time off work because I wouldn’t want to simply fly in and out for the race. I’d want to stay and enjoy the destination.

In the U.S., I’ll select races, whether marathon or half marathon, that have a good reputation, an interesting theme, or are in locations I want to see. I’ll also choose races where friends of mine are likely to be, such as the reunion races for Marathon Maniacs and 50 States Marathon Club. I’ll do fewer marathons in the U.S. now that I’ve finished my 50 states, but I won’t stop. I’ll replace some of the marathons with half marathons. There are so many more half marathons to choose from, and I really like that distance. I’ve passed on a lot of interesting half marathons because of my Marathon Maniacs Titanium quest and my pursuit of marathons in all 50 states. Now, I can choose to do some of the half marathons I’ve wanted to run. A few of them that are close to home: Wilson Bridge Half Marathon, Bird in Hand Half Marathon and Hershey Half Marathon.

My racing is not over by any means. I will choose to do fewer races, and some shorter distances. But I will also plan some epic trips to run some bucket list full marathons. I feel free in a way: no longer constrained to running primarily full marathons in new states. I will choose the races that are interesting to me. And…I’ll probably also follow Scot to some races that are interesting to him.

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