As I sit here 5 weeks out from my 3rd marathon I'm starting to wonder if I am doing my self a disservice by putting so much emphasis on one distance. 2009 will be a 2 marathon year for me. For a while I was thinking I'd shoot for 3 in '10 (Bayshore, OBB Oktoberfest, Vegas)...but the more I think on it, the more I realize that I am sacrificing distances that I like better and am more comfortable at in an attempt to conquer the 26.2 mile beast. Several times in the past year of marathon training I have chosen to not run races that I enjoy, simply because they didn't fit in well with my training schedule, tapers, or recoveries. With shorter distance races this is far less of an issue.
I never dealt with calf cramps in any distance through 25k, but both of my marathons have taken me down not far past the 15 mile mark...leveled to the point that walking was a struggle and running was impossible.
My peak weeks in marathon training at this point are landing in the 55 mile vicinity. To many this is really barebones mileage for such a distance. That kind of mileage for 15k, half-marathon, and 25k would have me much better trained vs. much of the field...and I need every advantage I can get. I'm definitely no speed demon--these 55 mile weeks are taking me over 10 hours of running time.
Shorter race distances = shorter tapers, shorter recoveries, cheaper race fees, and more time/strength to do more races. And after reading the Facebook comments from friends of mine who ran the Hell, MI Dances With Dirt relay yesterday...boy, I would love to devote more time to relays and trail races. The one I did last June with 5 teammates was definitely a highlight of my 3 years of running...perhaps THE highlight. Running in the woods as part of a team has an appeal that road racing solo just doesn't provide.
I'm also becoming more and more interested in getting into cycling. It's a sport that my body (heh, thunder-thighs) is almost certainly better suited for and it's an activity that my husband is passionate about (he has done 5 big 100 mile fundraising destination rides with the JDRF ride team program and many other century rides and rides over 100 miles just for shits 'n giggles) and our son also enjoys. Next Summer Dane will be 9 and is gradually getting to the point where he could ride a junior scale road bike with us (and, given his boundless energy, would almost certainly keep up with mom, if not dad). It would be really nice for the 3 of us to have an outdoor activity that we can share. Solves the issue of one of us always having to be home with him, too...which prevents DH and I from ever working out together.
With a bike I could also pursue some multi-sport races. There is at least one duathlon in my area, which appeals to me....run-bike-run. No swimming, like a tri. I have no interest in getting my hair wet unless it's from rain.
All running, all the time has lost a bit of its luster. Mostly running with some cycling thrown-in strikes me as something I'd enjoy more...variety being the spice of life, and all. Cycling may not benefit my running as much as pure running would, but the variation in workouts appeals to me.
Since I am running a marathon in 5 weeks I have been gradually thinking and rethinking how to carry necessities on race day. For my first 2 marathons I run with an Amphipod bottle belt. This is what I wear in training, too. It carries a 20oz. bottle and I can attach smaller bottles, if needed (which I didn't this Summer, as it was so unseasonably un-warm). It also has a stretchy pocket perfect for my phone, inhaler, "feminine hygiene supplies," and a packet or two of sport beans.
This time around I'd really like to take in the beverages supplied on the course...so I don't NEED the big belt. Plus...when I handed my hubby my empty bottle and swapped it for a full one during the Bayshore Marathon last May...I found that I REALLY noticed the extra weight. I never thought it mattered much and during an long training run it's not noticeable. But in the last 3rd of a race it felt like I swapped my empty bottle for a 10# brick. It also really made it painfully clear just how big an effect my extra 15#s is having on my pace and the effort it takes to move myself along....
I found an Amphipod belt a while back that has clips to hold the race bib (rather than putting holes in my $$ running clothes with safety pins) and has a nice little pouch for essentials, so I am going to give that a try this time around. I have a feeling it will be a bit liberating to race without the bulky bottle. Yet I will still be able to carry an alternative to the icky GU packets, a place to stash my inhaler, and have a few essentials within easy reach.