Because the Boston Marathon application process closed so early for this April's race, some of us who BQ'd in December's CIM are looking for spring marathons to tide us over until Boston in 2011.
I thought long and hard about this spring's selection. There were some intriguing marathons from which to choose.
The L.A. Marathon has a new course that starts at Dodger Stadium, winds through Hollywood and Beverly Hills and ends on the beach in Santa Monica. Sounds great, but the race is on March 21 -- too soon after the CIM for an older, injury-prone runner such as me.
Ditto for the Napa Valley Marathon March 7. Too soon. And friends tell me it's always cold, windy and rainy on race day.
There are two brand spankin' new marathons: Oakland on March 28 and Modesto on March 21. It's always dicey to do an "inaugural" marathon. Oakland's course has some challenging hills, though. But, again, March is too soon for me.
Big Sur on April 25 was a definite contender. But I worried about the cost of lodging in a resort town such as Carmel. Hey, there's a recession going on, folks.
So that took me into May, where I considered the Avenue of the Giants near Humboldt and the Eugene (Ore.) Marathon, both on May 2. Or, I could go into June and run the San Diego RnR Marathon or even late July and run the San Francisco Marathon, which I last ran in 1985. San Francisco was appealing because it wouldn't involve travel.
Last year, I winnowed my decision to Ave of the Gs or Eugene. I chose Eugene, because the town holds a certain running lore (Prefontaine and Salazar and all that) and because the finish was just outside of storied Hayward Field.
I ended up loving the race but hating my performance. It was the site of my biggest Marathon Meltdown ever. I came in too cocky. My training cycle had been great (a month before race day, I'd completed a 23-mile training run at a 7:19 pace).
But I went out too fast, at a pace that would have me finish around 3:08, and I completely fell apart at Mile 19. The last seven miles was agony, a run-walk-lurch that had me doubting why I ever took up this masochistic sport. I crossed the finish line cramping badly at 3:59. Worse, I had to make the eight-hour drive back home that same day, because I had my two teenaged sons with me and they had school in the morning. (By the way, two Sacramento Fleet Feet Racing runners, Chad Worthen and Emily Mah-Nakanishi finished in the top 5 in their gender divisions.)
This time, around, I was really leaning toward SF, where I'd run well (albeit decades ago). But my family made the decision for me. My two sons loved Eugene and my daughter and wife wanted to visit the town, too. (My wife has a thing for college towns; hence, we live in Davis.)
So it's back to Eugene. I think it'll be good for me. I hopefully can purge those demons from last year and run a smarter race. It's a great course -- if memory serves, the only major hill is around Mile 8 -- and the part of the course on the Willamette River is beautiful. Plus, this year, the race will end inside Hayward Field -- even better. One more advantage: My wife can drive home and I can kick back afterward.
I'm sure I missed some worthy marathon options for spring/early summer.
Tell me which you are doing, please.