Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Winter Marathon Query

I am queuing up Part Two of my little "Aching Backs" series. This will be the one in which I detail my physical therapy program as it stands right now.

First, however, I need some educated opinions.

Right now, I am signed up for this October 21 race:

I'm not exactly training for it yet, but I guess I'm training to train.
Though I may not be allowed to run at all until mid-July, I'm still planning to run Detroit. But it's probably not realistic to think I can run it fast enough to beat January's Houston Marathon PR of 3:53:28 by at least 10 minutes--which is what I need to do to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2014.

So I need to sign up for at least one more marathon before I turn 40 on January 21. Given what's going on with my back, BQing before that date (which was the entire premise of this blog) may not work out. But I'm not going to quit trying. (And if I don't make it this winter, I'm STILL not going to quit trying, so don't think that of me!)

My question is this: WHICH winter marathon should I sign up for?

As a sub-4-hour marathoner, I am granted early and guaranteed registration for the Houston race next year on January 13, a week ahead of my birthday. Early registration opens next Tuesday. But a lot of smart runners are signing up for the California International Marathon, a month and a half earlier on December 2. Looking at the course, it's tempting:

Hard to beat that profile....
Here are the pros and cons:

Houston Pros:
1) Six extra weeks to recover from Detroit and train
2) Familiar course--this would be my third time at it
3) Lots of friends in town; the support in January was amazing
Houston Cons:
1) Remember that weather in Boston the other week? Yeah, that's quite possible in Houston, even in January.
2) Not as fast a course
3) I'd have to train over Christmas again; I was hoping not to have to do that this year
CIM Pros:
1) Great course--see that chart again; according to Runners' World, it's in the top five of Boston Qualifiers
2) Good chance of nice weather; average temps are in the 50s
3) No training over Christmas
CIM Cons:
1) Not as much recovery/training time after Detroit
2) I know no one in Sacramento, though I'm sure I'll know some other bloggers running it

Of course, I could sign up for both races. This is also tempting. But it's a lot of money out of my family's till, and I'm not sure I can expect to do three marathons in four months and do any of them well. With my back an unknown variable, I need to do the right thing with this.

What's your opinion?


  1. CIM con #2 shouldn't be an issue.  you can always find bloggers at races!!!!  yes, it's not much recovery but if you're smart about it, you can make it work.  i vote for CIM (i heard it's an awesome race)!!!

  2. I totally vote for CIM like a hundred times over!! It's supposed to be a KICK ASS race, and I know a bunch of people personally who have PR'd there. DO IT!!! Yay :)

  3. Don't do both Houston and CIM--it's too much on your body after Detroit and you will probably decrease your chances of a BQ. So my two cents--see where you are as you approach Detroit. If you really don't feel in shape for a BQ then, consider either skipping it or running it as a training run so that you don't have to recover so much. Then--run CIM and BQ the heck out of it. And--I'm doing CIM--come do it!!!

  4. I've done CIM and it was a nice course.  It was, however, windy.  I think if you run Detroit hard, then CIM may be too close and not adequate time to recover, especially considering your back.  I've never done Houston but there's something to be said about familiarity (I've done Dallas White Rock 3 times and love that course because I know exactly what's coming and when) and it would give you plenty of time to recover a couple weeks then bounce right back in there.    Dallas White Rock is a good course to do well, is Tucson (my current PR)....but both of those are the same time frame as CIM.  I may do CIM.....I'm not sure.

    So that paragraph was all over the map.  Sorry.  I say if you go hard for Detroit then do Houston and if you don't feel good leading up to Detroit, then take Detroit easy and do CIM.  :)

  5. BostonboundbrunetteMay 2, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    I vote for CIM because I really want to do it too and I am contemplating whether I will do it or not. I just have this fear of signing up for anything right now. Focus on CIM and BQ it!

  6. I've got no real advice but the CIM course looks good to me. :)

  7. I like all the comments here. 

    CIM sounds tempting....but...

    Would you consider Tucson?  My sister (she's the BETTER version of me) lives there and you'd have a free place to stay and airline tickets are cheap!   I would tag along of course!

  8. CIM pro: meeting Tricia!!!!! Ha ha. Seriously I'm doing it for sure (or as for sure as one can be at this point). So come on out. It will be fun.

  9. CIM!!!! My 2 marathons were both CIM :)  Great crowds. Nice course. Tricia! Maybe me! What's stopping you now?  LOL

  10. I wish I had advice for you, but I don't have anything! I just wanted to say that I am also starting to think about a winter/early spring marathon and will be going through the same thing. AND I agree that Houston was not nearly as fast as it was touted to be. Those inclines (while not steep) in the last 3 miles were absolutely brutal! 

  11. I'd do CIM if I were you, it looks like a great course for a BQ and what's not to love about California!  I trained through Christmas last year and I agree it is a pain in the arse.  I don't blame you for wanting to avoid it!  
    Plus, after what you have been through lately, three marathons, may be too much for your body right now.  

    Good luck on your decision, I know it's a tough choice! 

  12. I have heard great things about CIM.  Many of my training partners have run that race and it is on my bucket list.  But personally, I think the pros of Houston make it the best decision.  Particularly the recovery time.  I would not want to push it with the back issue.  But that is just my humble opinion.

  13. I ran CIM last year and it was great! It was my first (and only so far!) marathon so I can't really give it a comparison factor, but the weather was in the high 30s in the morning, warming up to low 50s during the day, the course is nice, although there are some small uphills. It's fairly small; I think there were about 6000 marathoners. I liked it. And I live close by so here is one blogger you know!

  14. I'd say don't do both as you really increase your chance of injury.  I don't know either of those races but CIM sounds like the better option.
    BTW - I am for sure running Detroit (probably the half) and have roped in a whole bunch of my fellow Canadians to come for the weekend as well.  Sweet..

  15. I'm a little biased, but I'd LOVE to have you back in Houston!  :)  I'd make a huge sign and cheer really loud! I agree with the advice not to do both after Detroit, that seems like a recipe for re-injury (at least, it would be for my body!)

  16. Don't do both. Trust me on this one. :) I see injury and/or burnout with that plan. (I tried it too... FAIL)

    CIM sounds awesome. That gets my vote. And you can always join up with a pace group and meet people that way. That's what I did when I got my BQ. Met a super cool chick that ran with me almost the whole time.

  17. How cool would it be to BQ a week before your birthday in Houston? That's all I have to say.

  18. Gosh -- I honestly don't know. When would you need to decide so you can sign up in time? I think it would be nice to see how you feel and where you're at fitness-wise after Detroit. Then you could see how much time you think you'd need to really give your BQ try the best chance.

    Would family come with to TX or CA? Do they prefer either? I think you can do great at either race. Justice sure you don't push yourself too much, too fast and create any new injuries. Good Luck T! (Can I refer to use as that? It always sticks in my brain because I had a friend Tirzah who we sometimes called "T". :-)

  19. Argh - typos! I blame auto correct. Sorry. :-()

  20. I vote CIM.  Even though you don't know people there, you can plaster your name across your shirt in HUGE letters and it'll help! (that's what I found at NYCM, anyway :)  Good luck!! I hope you BQ - wherever you run!

  21. Either are winners. I know I vowed never to run another winter marathon, but I'll tell you what, you pick a race and I'll come out and run it with you. If you do CIM I can find family for us to crash with and take the edge off the $$$. Otherwise, I'll cross my fingers for the Houston lottery. 

  22. If you were in Italy I could say Florence ......

  23. I haven't run a full yet, so take my comments for what they're worth.  LOL.  My only two cents is do not do both.  I like some of the suggestions here that are based on how hard you push in Detroit.  Mostly, I think it depends on how quickly you're allowed to run again.  If later, I would take Detroit as a warm-up race, and push hard at CIM.  That elevation profile looks awesome!