Monday, December 27, 2010

Half or Full?

OK, I know this is my second post in the same number of days, but I needed to get this one out there. I need help!

So last Tuesday, while I was lurking around the fully occupied treadmills at the rec center, I started chatting with another runner who was also waiting. Lean and rangy, one of those old-school 70s Boulder guys who has been running since before I was born and will be running until he keels over, he told me he was training for the Colorado Marathon in nearby Fort Collins on May 1.

Guys like him usually know what they're talking about when it comes to local races. So I looked this one up online when I got home. The course starts high in Cache La Poudre Canyon west of Fort Collins, finishing in town after a net elevation drop of more than 1100 feet. In the eight years of its existence, it has qualified a relatively high 16-18% of its finishers for Boston. And the scenery is apparently amazing.

Immediately, I began toying with changing my plan.

That plan, currently, is to run the Boulder Spring Half on March 27 with the goal of breaking 2 hours, and then to use the results to determine my next step, which hopefully would be a full marathon in the summer or fall (fall being more likely given my aversion to hot weather). Changing to the May 1 race would mean switching to the FIRST program's marathon plan starting in January, and hoping that I have enough of an endurance base to hit my intermediate marathon goal of breaking four hours.

I can't run both races well, so I can choose only one. Both have pros and cons. I laid them out as follows:

The Half-Marathon

  • Builds my endurance base more gradually and probably more thoroughly
  • Race date is sooner and therefore more motivating
  • Easier to recover if sickness hits me or my family over the remaining winter months
  • Shorter training distances easier on my nagging sore foot
  • Familiar course

  • Delays a true test of my marathon prowess for almost a year
  • Kind of ho-hum--I've done this course before

The Marathon

  • New and scenic course--exciting!
  • The most appealing local marathon I've studied--I wasn't planning to do any local marathons, but this one might be the ticket despite the altitude (which I'm used to anyway)--and it means my family could come watch
  • I wouldn't have to buy a plane ticket or stay several nights in a hotel, as I will have to do for any other marathon that appeals to me down the road
  • High Boston potential--it's too much to hope that I would qualify for Boston as soon as this coming May, but doing a marathon so soon would allow me to test the course out and get an idea of how far I really have to go

  • May be too soon for me to do a full marathon; my right foot is still bothering me, and it definitely bugs me more the longer I run
  • Spring Half is already paid for, and non-refundable; the Colorado Marathon would set me back another $125

I'm on the fence. On the one hand, I know I shouldn't rush this. On the other hand, I'd like to get a move on, and a good time in a half-marathon, while it would be nice, isn't my larger aim. Each day brings the big four-oh closer for me.

What do you think I should do? Please leave a comment here or on Facebook with your opinion. I need all the help I can get!