I’m a planner. I love making plans and lists, and I love being organized (thanks to my Dad!) One of my favorite things to plan is my race schedule. I also love making training plans. Since it takes about 16 weeks to train for each marathon, I really have to plan ahead and choose races that are timed far enough apart for me to have time to recover and then begin training again (usually one in the fall and one in the spring). Also, my big goal is to run a marathon in all 50 states, so many of my races involve traveling. So planning and thinking ahead is definitely necessary!
For the last few years I have known which races I wanted to run and had my whole schedule laid out at least year in advance. The next race on the schedule is the Air Force Marathon in Ohio on September 17th, and for the first time ever I realized I didn’t know what I wanted to do next! It will be my 7th marathon in my 7th state. It’s early in the fall running season, so I’m looking forward to having a longer time in between my fall and spring races.
So what’s next for me? That’s what I have been thinking about a lot lately. I don’t have any extra days to take off in the spring because I’m using them up for the honeymoon. So whatever I do it will have to be during my spring break (March 31 – April 8, 2012), or if the race is close enough it could be a quick weekend trip. It also needs to be a new state (obviously!). I will have already done Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Texas, New York, Tennessee, and Ohio. I don’t want to travel too far because of money, so that’s a factor too.
I’ve been all over the Running in the USA website lately trying to find a race that fits my many requirements but I haven’t been very successful. I’m being a little picky too, because I want to do something special. I’m turning 25 in October then getting married in November, and there is a good chance that this spring marathon could be my last for a little while, for certain reasons… if you catch my drift 🙂
I found something that seems to be a good fit- It’s in Raleigh, North Carolina (which is a new state and only a 4 hour drive away), and it’s during my Spring Break. There’s just one detail that makes me extremely nervous – it’s an ultra-marathon! This means it’s longer than 26.2 miles. Not just a little longer though, this race is 50 MILES!!!!!
It’s called the Umstead 100. It’s actually a 100 mile race with a 50 mile option. Um, yeah, 100 miles? No! I would be doing the 50 mile option, which is still a huge and overwhelming distance. Every time I finish a marathon I can’t imagine running another step. This would require me to run an extra 23.8 miles. When I think about that I get extremely scared and extremely excited at the same time. I love taking on new challenges, and I want to see if I can do it.
As far as ultras go, this one actually seems less difficult in terms of terrain and climbs. Most ultras are on super crazy narrow trails and up extremely steep inclines, so compared to that this one doesn’t look TOO bad. It is basically 4 loops of 12.5 miles each. Here is a description of the course from the race website:
“The course is along a converted dirt road, which now serves as a running, biking and bridle trail through the Park. The trail width varies between 10 and 15 feet and the footing is excellent. There is no single track trail on the course. All creek crossings are on permanent bridges.
The course’s surface is primarily fine packed powdered, granite screenings (1/16 inch and finer). This is an outstanding running surface. There is crusher run material on the vehicle access road portion of the course leading into Camp Lapihio and the S/F Aid Station (.4 mile). We continue to recommend a light trail type shoe but a well cushioned regular running shoe will do just as well on this surface. We also recommend gaiters to keep the small grit out of your shoes.
The course is rolling topography with a total of 8000 feet of climb over the 100 miles (1000 feet per loop). The entire course is runable for front-runners with nicely spaced hills (see profile graph). The course will be well marked; getting lost, even for a short time, will be difficult. The course will be marked with cherry colored, Umstead 100 Logo, direction signs and with glow sticks at night.”
I am not a trail runner so this type of course seems good for a beginner like me. There’s 28 weeks (about 6.5 months) between the Air Force Marathon and this race. I don’t even know how I would train for it! I’m sure it takes longer than 16 weeks though and involves high mileage to get used to being on your feet for a long period of time. Another cool aspect of this race is that they have aid stations, but you can bring your own ‘crew’ with you, which would be Kevin. He would not be running this with me because he has his own race plans for the spring (which will be revealed later once he decides for sure). So he would be there for me providing what I need and supporting me, which is awesome.
A safer option would be the Myrtle Beach Marathon on February 18th, but that would only leave me 22 weeks between marathons and I would somehow have to take Friday off at school because the race is on a Saturday. This just seems less appealing to me right now, but Kevin’s parents do have a house there which is nice.
So I need thoughts, opinions, advice. Should I go for the ultra? Or play it safe and just do the Myrtle Beach Marathon? I feel like I should go big or go home, and that I’m ready for a challenge like this after 7 marathons. I want to do it so badly, but I’m scared too! Registration doesn’t open until September 7th so I have some time to think, but I just don’t know! Decisions, decisions…