The Summer of 2011 has been tough for me, running-wise. I set a new personal best in March at the Shamrock Half-Marathon in Virginia Beach, but from then on, it's been a struggle.
In late May I aggravated a calf strain in my left leg in a local 5K. I was running so well that even after the strain, I tied my PR in the 5K. Rehabbing from that, though, took longer than I anticipated. In that time, I was preparing for a house move, so I wasn't getting much rest. We moved the first weekend in July, and the streets around the new house were much more hilly than where I lived before. I wasn't running much, and it was starting to show.
Then, in the middle of July, a commitment I made over the winter had me running an 8.5 mile leg of a really fun 42-mile relay race in Philly. I did fine, a little slower than I had anticipated, but it was evident to me that I was not in top shape. Two weeks after that, I ran a little 5K at the beach in Delaware. With the pancake-flat course, I was expecting to PR this race. But the combination of not being in good running shape and a very humid morning took it's toll. I started out way too fast (my first mile was run in a sub-8 minute pace) and I faltered towards the end.
So I decided after that 5K to not race for a while, to focus on getting back into prime running condition again. I'm at that point right now, and I'll be doing a local cross country-style Turkey Trot next month. I'l probably also do a New Year's Day race as well. The Broad Street Run (10 miler) in May in Philadelphia is also on my mid-term radar.
But I had a revelation yesterday.
I was listening to my friend and Team McGraw coach Kevin Leathers on his Pace Per Mile podcast, and he was interviewing Al Roker from NBC's Today Show. Al had run the New York Marathon last year; well, not actually "run", but "completed", as Al put it. And I thought to myself, if Al Roker can do a marathon (26.2 miles), why not me? I was always against doing one, simply because I know what it's like to run a half-marathon (13.1 miles) - I couldn't imagine running 2 halfs back-to-back.
But I think I'm past that. My only decision is which marathon to set my sights on. I would need at least 16 weeks to train for a marathon. I'm already running 10 miles on the weekends, so I have a head start. Some of my criteria: 1) the bulk of my training has to take place outside of prime summer months; 2) the marathon has to be not too hilly (because of my recurring calf problems) or not too hot; and 3) it has to be a fairly scenic course. And I want it to be close enough where maybe, possibly, I could get some people to see me at the end.
So here are the marathons I randomly looked at: Washington (March); Virginia Beach (March); Chicago (October); New York (early November); Philadelphia (late November); and Memphis (early December). Washington and Virginia Beach would be tough because the bulk of my training would be in winter, and possibly affected by snow. But Virginia Beach is flat and fast, so that's a possibility (but it's not very scenic). Chicago is flat, but it's probably out, because my training would have to start in mid-June. New York is most likely out. Training would start in mid-July, and the course is quite hilly, especially with the bridges. Philly is a possibility - it's fairly flat, and training could start in early August.
But I'm seriously looking at Memphis. A fairly flat course, training would start mid-August, and the course sounds very interesting. And going back to my original reasoning, it's also in Kevin Leathers' hometown. It all comes around. So as of today, I'd have to give the St. Jude Memphis Marathon the lead out of the starting gate.
But I have about 6 months to decide, so anything is possible. I'll keep you posted.