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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


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.

I Miss Being In Love With Running

I’m finally there. I’m in the time and place and dimension where I can say these words and actually mean them. I am ready. I miss running.

Not only do I miss running after my annual winter hiatus, I am ready to start training again. I’m saying this much earlier than I usually do — I don’t usually feel the itch until late March/early April — but this year is different. Here’s why:

1. I am running a summer marathon.

If there’s anything that will motivate and excite me about running, it is a race. Specifically, a marathon-length race with a lofty goal.

2. A July marathon means March training. March training means February base building.

And that’s where I am now – about to start my base building. I told Coach Abby that I’m ready for her to work on my base building plan to ensure I return to regular running (I’ve been doing 3-4 miles here and there) safely and smartly, with a nice balance to Refine classes.

3. I am sick of my short runs feeling so hard.

I’ve only been running 3-4 miles, but every step of those miles feels impossible. I feel nostalgic for the days a 40 minute run was considered an ‘easy’ day.  I long for the days 8 miles was a “short long run.”

4. I am faster.

A big part of the reason I chose a summer marathon is because I am always faster in the spring.  I PR 10ks in the spring on very little training. When summer hits and humidity soars, I slow down. Starting fall marathon training in July is bad for the ego. I want to train when I am faster so I can have more confidence and feel more qualified to hit my goal.

5. My knee doesn’t hurt.

You might remember I didn’t hit my Richmond Marathon goal because my knee was injured and ruined miles 14-26.2  of my goal race. After rest, physical therapy and strengthening, it feels good again! I also bought a Zensah knee sleeve that might or might not help, but in my brain it helps a lot. But after doing an overhead press, my neck injury is back and better (worse?) than ever. So, there’s that.  I’m actually deeply upset about this and wrote an entire whiny blog post complaining and being mad at myself for causing this, but no one wants to see that.

Dori PDX Marathon

6. I miss being in love with running.

I miss going to sleep excited for the following day’s run. I miss the feeling of conquering a tempo run. I miss programming my watch to beep and tell me when to slow down and when to speed up. I miss having goals. I miss running with my friends. I miss Jersey City morning running with Miranda. I miss tweeting about running and talking about running and obsessing over running. I miss registering for races. I miss PRing. I miss being frustrated with not PRing. I miss setting goals. I miss running many days a week. I miss feeling badass about running many days a week. I miss constantly looking at a training plan. I miss analyzing a training plan. I miss crossing off completed days on a training plan. I miss wondering about what a future run on my training plan that seems challenging will be like. I miss finding out what the run on my training plan that seems challenging is like. I miss blogging about running. I miss having great run days. I miss having bad run days. I miss weekend long runs. I miss brunch after weekend long runs. I want to feel this way again; I am ready to feel this way again.

<WHINE ALERT> The only thing standing in my way (because there always has to be something with me…) is my  neck/shoulder, which I am starting acupuncture for on Sunday and plan to go twice a week. PT didn’t help last time (I went for about 5 months) so I don’t know what else to do since it is a muscle injury. Andy got me an e-stim machine that I will use at home starting tonight. I am icing and heating, though I don’t know which is better. I take Rx strength Naproxen. I sleep ony on my good neck side. They don’t give cortisone for muscle injuries, much to my dismay. And I built a lot of strength back at Refine the last few months, but I have to stop going while my neck is a mess. So of course, I am worried about that impact. </WHINE ALERT>

That’s all I’ve got. Tell me something else that will add to my feelings of running love.


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