Boston 2015 is the “big dance” for me and everything will lead up to that, assuming I am fortunate enough to get a slot. My races and training between now and then (less than 13 months, less than 55 weeks) will be geared to at least not adversely affect Boston if not in some way support it and other ambitious goals I have.

So, here’s what’s up for the rest of 2014, starting with 2 races 4 weeks after Shamrock.

April 12
Marine Corps 17.75k

Why: It’s supposed to be a good race, a unique distance (automatic PR) and finishing gets you a slot into the Marine Corps Marathon. My husband suggested we do it for all those reasons, even though he’s running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler the weekend before, and I went with his idea. We both managed to get registered in the 9 minutes it took the race to sell out online. This is a very hilly course, which I’m not used to, so just completing it healthy is the goal. Getting some hill experience is a good thing for me, something I need to work on for Boston.

Late breaking as of Tuesday night: Looks like there’s a fair chance of rain for the 17.75k. If that happens, I will likely pass on the race. As you learned last week, I don’t like to run in the rain AND – not being experienced on a hilly course with some (potentially slick) trails – the risk/reward equation would be skewed the wrong way for me. One race – particularly not an A race – isn’t worth derailing my future training and racing.

April 13 (the next day)
George Washington Parkway 10 Miler

Why: It’s a really pretty race, the only time the Parkway is closed. I ran it last year and liked it. I’d forgotten it was the day after 1775 until after we’d registered. I was briefly bummed, then DH suggested “Why don’t you run both? You are interested in doing ultras and the training is often back to back long runs. Your long runs for Shamrock were longer than the two races combined.” His rationale seemed sound and the challenge caught my fancy. When I get one of those ideas in my head, it plants roots quickly. How I approach this race depends on how the race Saturday goes. If I can run it at a decent pace, I may try, or I may just take whatever pace my legs are willing to give and not push.

May-September: no races

It’s generally too hot here in the summer, for me, to race, and I’m not into 5ks or 10ks. So I’ll be starting my next training cycle in May, after recovering from the April races. That’s probably a good thing anyway as I may have some trips to make, we may need to move over the summer, and those efforts, plus training, my day job and blogging will keep me plenty busy.

October 19
Baystate Marathon

Why: I love fall marathons and I wanted to have a chance to BQ if I didn’t make it at Shamrock. Now I’d like the chance to better my time for 2016 and see what I can do. I’ve been looking at this race for a couple of years. It’s got a good reputation as a BQ race (25% of the field usually BQ’s) so it’s flat and fast, and it’s put on “by runners, for runners”. Also, runner tweeps I’d like to meet recommended it and my sister lives within a couple of hours of the venue, so I might get to see some folks while I’m up there. DH won’t be able to make the trip with me, so I’ll be solo. This would be an “A” race for me, as Shamrock was, so my training after the April races would be focused on Baystate, probably starting in May with a hill module then a speed module from Greg McMillan‘s YOU (Only Faster) book (which I used to train for Shamrock) before starting the 12 week marathon plan.

October 26 (one week later)
Marine Corps Marathon (MCM)

Why: Good question. DH is considering run/walking this (see rationale for 17.75k). Though we’re local, we’ve never done the race. Last year I was going to go cheer some of the runners but friends came in from out of town. It kind of seems like since we’re here we SHOULD do the race. It’d also be another chance to see and run with Bart Yasso at his shakeout run (only partially kidding). And, it would get me Marathon Maniac status! (2 marathons in 16 days is the one of the criteria for entrance into the “club”)

I haven’t run it before as it does have a little hilliness (when I want flat, I want really flat), it’s huge and I prefer smaller races, and (pet peeve) I run with headphones and MCM prohibits them. The big question is – what can I do, what should I do – the week after putting forth a big effort at Baystate? Thinking back to a week post-Shamrock, I did 6 miles fine at a slow pace, not sure I could do 26.2 at that pace. It would definitely be a “finish it” race, not done for time. Two weeks post-Shamrock, I did 11.5 miles Saturday and 10.35 miles Sunday. I was sorer than I’d like Saturday post-run and worried going into Sunday that I wouldn’t be able to get the run done due to soreness or injury concerns. The third week – day 18 post-Shamrock – was the first time I started to feel the training in my legs more than the race effects. Given the timing, unless I get my recovery to be faster or get fitter (both possibilities), I wonder if it’s wise to do two marathons so close together, especially when I plan to run Baystate at least as hard/fast as I did Shamrock.

I will have to decide whether or not to register for Marine Corps quickly as the 17.75 “access granted” only lasts a couple of days post-race. I could sign up and then transfer the bib if I decide not to run it, but that is money gone, of course.

Then, another suggestion of DH’s that burrowed its roots into my brain and won’t let go. I may try to do my first ultra in 2014! I’ve been interested in ultras for a couple of years now, but hadn’t chosen my debut race.

Because I’m not a trail runner (yet) and my goals for the next couple of years are road marathons, it makes more sense for me to look for road or track ultras. Many of the road ultras of interest to me, like Chicago and Mad City, conflict with other races or important segments of my training. But, as I learned more and more about ultras and the community, I started hearing about Aravaipa Running (the Coury Brothers) and the races they organize, including Across The Years (ATY).

ATY is a timed ultra (24, 28, 72 hours and a 6 day) run on a 1+ mile loop track at a baseball training facility in Arizona across days at the end of December into the New Year, hence the name. I’ve been in contact with the organizers, and they have no problem with me signing up for the 24 hour and only running 50k if I want, 50k being the shortest ultra race distance, 31+ miles. I plan to go for 50k (not sure if I want a particular time or not) and then see how I feel. I surely wouldn’t go more than 50 miles and probably wouldn’t go that far, keeping Boston 2015 in mind. But the Courys sound great, the race looks unusual and fun, and I’ve heard the community of runners at the race is fantastic. DH and I like Arizona, so there’s the potential for a vacation for both of us if things work out. Also, I could run it either in 2014 or 2015 (since it goes “across the years”). I think if I train for it and run it wisely, it could help me for Boston or at the least, not cause me any problems. It would help keep my mileage up, and taking a couple recovery weeks afterward wouldn’t affect the start of my Boston training.

Other possibilities for the fall…

One alternative that’s recently come to mind and would still get me Marathon Maniac status, since 3 marathons or more in 90 days is another way to get in at the entry level, is:

Baystate 10/19, then the Richmond Marathon 11/15, then Across the Years (minimum 50k distance)

Why Richmond? I’ve done the half a couple of times, and in 2013 I’d planned to run the full marathon and try to BQ. Then, in August 2013, I got injured because I’d ramped up my mileage too quickly (started the year at 50mpw, hit 80mpw just before injury). I pulled back and rehabbed and probably could have done the race “to finish” but that wasn’t what I wanted and I decided to retarget for Shamrock. Richmond 2014 would have the advantage of being 4 weeks after Baystate, and thus potentially less damaging to my body and a more pleasant experience. The disadvantage would be a 2 hour car ride each way, at least one night in a hotel, and the concerns about food I have away from home. Also, DH probably can’t make this trip either.

No matter what I decide about a second or third race in the fall/winter of 2014, Boston training starts in January. Eyes on the prize for 2015, which is a Boston I can be pleased with and hopefully proud of, so a strong race though I haven’t decided on a time goal. Keeping that in mind, I may not do MCM, may do Richmond (or not) and I may change my mind about trying to get Maniac status this year. I’d love to reach a lot of goals in one year, and am already planning to race more races than I ever have in one year, but I have to be wise about my choices. I need to be able to keep training to keep improving. Anything that puts my consistent and continued healthy training at risk is not a good idea, no matter how appealing it sounds.

Thanks for reading! If you have thoughts on the above, questions or want to share your plans, feel free to do so in the comments, by reaching out to me on twitter, or by using the contact form on the site.