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Marathon Tomorow

September 28 is finally here. I’m writing this post on my phone in a bed in a rented house in Bellingham, Washington for the Bellingham Bay Marathon. My goal is sub-4.

If you asked me just one week ago (and my physical therapist did!) I’d have told you everything felt good, knock on wood. No bad foot pain (that’s why I’m currently in PT – though my foot itself is fine and the pain comes from elsewhere), my neck feels fine, my rib hasn’t bothered me in a long time. I even thought just last week how it was amazing just how much my neck felt normal again.

Things can change in a week and not only does my neck not feel normal, it feels exactly like it did during my injured time where I couldn’t run or Refine for months.

There are a few contributing factors. None matter. What matters is trying not to stress about this and trying to run just as fast – even if it hurts.

I’m better trained than I’ve ever been in my life. My legs feel good. After a difficult start to the week, my stomach feels OK (I’ve have a chronic GI illness since 2007).

I’m running a marathon in a beautiful place on a gorgeous day. My husband, brother, sister in law and 21-month-old-nephew will be cheering for me. I’m with my family.

Goal or no goal (but I REALLY hope goal!), tomorrow will be a good day to run a marathon.

How I Chose My Next Fall Marathon

I’m sadly not running the Eugene Marathon this year.

This is tough. I was so excited about it, I signed up when the price was low, I couldn’t wait to train in the spring when I’m all fast and race in the Pacific Northwest summer during a celebration of running in Tracktown USA. I was going to stay in an adorable rented house with my family (including baby nephew) and it was going to be an amazing weekend.

Of course, things often don’t work out as planned and with my neck injury coming in January, I’m just not ready to start training for a July marathon.

Naturally my thoughts went to a fall marathon. I started researching every fall race on the east coast, and finding fault with them all. Wineglass Marathon, the frontrunner because wine, just didn’t excite me. (And Ellen didn’t love it/didn’t think I’d love it and I trust her opinion). Every mid-late November race was out (which includes my beloved Richmond and Philly) because I didn’t enjoy the last few weeks of cold weather training last year. A few races that sounded interesting (Newport RISteamtown and Chicago) were the same day as Ashley Runningbun‘s wedding, so those were out.

Dori PDX marathon

This is what I look like when I see my family during a marathon

I liked that Lehigh Valley was in early September but I wanted a little more time to heal my neck and get back into running shape. Cape Cod seemed too hilly for a PR attempt. My friend Miranda loved Baystate and it’s near my husband’s parents’ house, but the course is two loops and I just wasn’t feeling it. No one I know liked Hartford much.  I didn’t want to deal with logistics, waiting for a long time in the cold and the hills of NYCMBaltimore was hilly. Marine Corps was too big. I wanted smaller but not too small. I want crowd support without hoopla.

After being frustrated with not loving any of my east coast options, I opened the Marathon Guide list of races and just started reading through each one, thinking maybe I’d find something in the Seattle area where my family lives. I came across two races in Washington state – Bellingham Bay Marathon and Leavenworth Oktoberfest Marathon. I researched both and really, Bellingham Bay seemed perfect.

A gorgeous course that runs along the water, a time of year the weather is usually ideal, not too hilly especially considering the location, an inexpensive price tag (for the next few days, more on that in a minute) and did I mention just how gorgeous it is? I mean, look at the course map! Apparently it is unofficially called “the most beautiful marathon in the Pacific Northwest.”

I also really liked the date - September 28. No cold weather training and also the good chance for a nice race day. I looked up flight prices and they were totally doable (unlike Eugene flights, which was driving me crazy).  And really, I just felt excited about this race. I didn’t feel this way about any of the east coast races I looked up. I was tempted to register on the spot. Bellingham Bay Marathon felt right.

I emailed my brother and sister in law to see if they were free for a trip to Bellingham that weekend and they were up for it. I asked on Twitter if anyone’s run this race, and every response I received was overwhelmingly positive. I was convinced!

Bellingham Bay Marathon

Photo: http://www.bellinghambaymarathon.org//caption

And then I started to really think about whether this was a good decision. I’m first recovering from injury, but I’m getting better each week. This morning I ran 3 miles without pain. I’m getting there. Plus, I figured that even if I can’t run this race for whatever reason, I’d still go to Seattle and see my nephew (who will be 21 months at that time) which I’d need to do anyway!

Also, the price of the race was about to go up on April 1. Tempting! Pressure!

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="360"]Dori with Harrison nephew Showing Harrison my bling in PDX

I consulted with Coach Abby and she advised me to wait, and only register if I can run 8 miles pain-free and comfortably by the end of May. That made sense – better to wait and pay more than register now to save money and then not be able to run. Although I really hated the idea of paying more later on . . .

When I went to the registration page and began the process (you see where this is going), it gave me the option for buying race insurance. RACE INSURANCE. For $7 (less than the cost of the price increase April 1) I could get a full refund if I can’t run the race.

That was the sign I needed. I had nothing to lose by registering. So I signed up.

And that, my friends, is how I chose my next fall marathon. My fourth marathon. Another marathon where my nephew Harrison will cheer for his Aunt Dori. Another marathon combined with a family visit. And if all goes well with my healing, my PR attempt.

For now, it’s back to resting my neck, doing all my PT exercises (some for neck, some for hip which my physical therapist thinks is contributing to my neck), doing my leg and hip strengthening from Coach Abby and (semi) patiently waiting to get back to Refine and run more miles.

But all of this is so much sweeter now that I have another training season and a great goal race to look forward to.

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