Too soon?

I guess bad marathons really are like childbirth: you forget the extreme pain and suffering after awhile and start yearning to pop another one out.

My marathon plans (or lack thereof) for the spring have not changed. In fact, now that the big spring races are around the corner and running bloggers are started to post things like “just eight weeks to Boston…” I find I’m relieved not to be among the worriers.

One decision we did make about the spring was to bag the idea of running the New Jersey Half again. I’m annoyed with this race. Not only have they jacked the fees up to the $100 range (for a half!), but they sin in other ways. Their web site looks like it was put together by a 12-year-old. They don’t respond to emails. Their explanation of how to defer an entry to next year is written like something off of Engrish Funny. And you can no longer park anywhere near the course. You have to go stand in a parking lot and wait for their buses (which were late last year). So, screw you, New Jersey. I’m entered for the full marathon this year, which I’ll defer until next year and decide then if I want to run the full or write it off as a loss.

Just for fun, I’m including this quote from the NJ site, in which they attempt to describe a change to the course:

Approximately 4.3 miles of the southern end of the 2009 course, in Elberon, will not exist in 2010. It has been replaced by approximately 4.3 mile in Oceanport.

Sorry, I’m a writer and editor. This sort of thing makes me crazy. When you say something “will not exist in 2010,” it reads as if the race director has metaphysical powers and has transported entire neighborhoods into a yawning cosmic void. Probably the same one into which my deferral request will be cast.

Instead, we’re going to give the Providence, RI half marathon a spin. It’s the same weekend, but it’s in Providence! I haven’t been there since sometime in the mid-1980s. I remember it was a cute city and I had a great breakfast at the Newport Creamery (it’s still there!). Affordable hotels abound just blocks from the start/finish and it’s close enough that we can drive home after the race. And it’s only $55.

Change of plan: We’re running Long Island. $50 and it’s 40 mins from our house. No hotel, no long drives…and it’s flat!

As for the fall, I’m already forgetting my past agonies and considering a full marathon again. Specifically, the Richmond, VA marathon. It’s well-established and large enough that I could easily find people to run with, but not so huge as to be overwhelming. We could also combine it with a trip to see a friend of Jonathan’s who lives in Maryland. My idea is to use the Westchester Half in October as a tune-up race or Mpace training run, and then do the full in VA five weeks later.

The other possibility is making the Westchester Half my goal race for the fall, then plan to run the New York Marathon as a fun run a month later. But I don’t know that I’d be satisfied with doing that. The sheer size of the NY race and the logistics of just getting to the start line have always been daunting. I’m not sure whether going in with the attitude that I’ll run it for the scenery and experience would help make those things more tolerable or have the opposite effect, making the venture seem like a complete waste of time and effort. I’m leaning against the idea, but I’ve got months to decide.

I’m surprised that I’m thinking about a full race again this soon. The last two races, and a few good workouts, are having their intended effect, I suppose. That being to renew my confidence that I’m not necessarily doomed to a future of hideous marathon implosions. Still, it’s weird to be hearing the siren call of the marathon already.

14 Responses

  1. $100 for a half marathon?!?!? No way, I’m with you on that one. I loved the Harrisburg HM for $45 and especially the Seaside HM for $25, despite the nor’easter which created horrific race day conditions. But for $25 you can’t complain much about anything. I guess I’m cheap.

    However, that Providence, RI HM sounds like one I want to keep on my radar. I can’t wait to hear all about it.

    It’s funny how quickly the painful memories can be erased. Good luck!!

  2. oh no not Providence!!!! I did the full as my final training run before LA last year and ran bandit. Thankfully, I was not registered and racing. I think there’s a lot of similarity between the 1/2 and the full because I ran into a ton of 1/2 people. The course starts all great but then leads you along some lonely industrial water where you can see Providence for miles but it never seems to come. There’s a lot of strange turns at the end of that to get up on a bridge and the paths are not wide. Then in the last few miles, it puts you over a bridge pedestrian sidewalk where passing becomes impossible because its one person wide. THEN you have to go down a very narrow 180 hairpin turn ramp to get off the bridge. And you better finish fast because they ran out of food last year and never had much to begin with! I hope they changed all this. There were other problems and downfalls but you won’t have to worry about them. It’s run by the same people that now do the Newport Marathon, which was another disaster. These people go cheap and minimal.

    • Oh, no. Ugh. There are so few decent races within driving distance in the spring, but I’ll keep looking. I’m not totally giving up on Providence, since I know the half only follows the full course for the first 8 miles (although they don’t have a course map available yet). I know it got terrible reviews in 2008 but it sounded like they’d fixed a lot of the issues last year. Guess not. Hmm.

  3. Ah, the LI half marathon…with beautiful views of Nassau coliseum and Hempstead Turnpike. ;) But a nice flat course. And I’ve heard nothing but good things about Richmond.

    I’ll tell you: if I were to run NYCM again, I’m pretty sure I’d do it for fun. While I can see how it would be possible to put a decent time down on the course, given the start line logistics (and a village far less organized than Boston, FWIW) and the technical nature of the course (at least in my experience), I don’t know that I’d key on it again. Though I think its worth doing just for the surrealness of running in places you can’t ordinarily run.

  4. Your description of marathon training and execution is right on. Your mind tends to “forget” the “When I want to start training again, think of this moment at mile 20″ that you say to yourself during the race…or the mental brutality and physical anguish! And AMEN on the CRAZY entry fees for a half. I always forget to budge those because in reality you wouldn’t think you’d be paying that much! Good choice on Long Island. If I was still in NY, I’d be thinking of all those races you mentioned for the fall…sigh.

  5. So the marathon beast is stirring. Which wicked witch did you cross to be cursed in this way? Good Luck!
    I am running that patriots-day race this year, but I’m telling myself it’s not really a goal race. I’m a poor liar.

    • I like that: the patriot’s day race. You don’t even capitalize the holiday. Good job of fooling yourself about what you’ll be doing in mid-April. ;)

  6. While I wish you were doing NJM and we’d get a chance to meet up there, I think the LI one is a good choice. I’ve heard some good reviews of it, and while Providence is a pretty city, that particular race has never been that great. (I ran the inaugural half and heard the full was AWFUL… and that it didn’t improve much even with the course change).

  7. That’s exciting. I think running Richmond would be a great idea. You definitely have more good marathons in you.

    I learned in Chicago last year that doing marathons as fun runs is tougher than it seems. With all that energy out there, it’s tough to not get carried away. I imagine you’d run into the same thing in NYC.

  8. Good story about your plans and a lot of money for a half marathon.
    Long island looks good and do i read that you perhaps run the new york marathon in November?.
    I wil run the newyork marathon slooooooooooow and do have a lot of fun at that time.
    Julie, you go good and no problem for the marathon!.
    Veel plezier en geniet van het rennen!.
    Rinus.

  9. Hook up with Rinus and you’ll be sure to have fun!

  10. glad to see another opinion about NJ…I was originally gonna make the half my spring goal race but was having second thoughts-the crazy high price being one of the reasons! I think I’m leaning towards Brooklyn instead…and feeling better about that decision with each day. Good luck in LI!

  11. I briefly considered doing the Brooklyn half too, but remember a lot of complaints last year about the boardwalk section in Coney Island — lots of runners falling, apparently. It sounds like LI is a bit roomier anyway.

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