Decisions Decisions- The Fall Marathon

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I'll only be racing one marathon in 2011. Last year I ran Des Moines two weeks after working my butt off in the weeks leading up to the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. Being so busy with work affected my training, which was during my taper but still an important week, i.e. not a good week to be on my feet all the time, not sleeping, and eating like crap. This year I'd like to pick a race that's a bit farther out from our Race Weekend (Sep 30- Oct 2 this year).

Through a lot of online research, reading back issues of Runner's World and talking to some friends, I've narrowed it down to three possible marathons, each with it's own Pros and Cons. I've used as a source for runner reviews but have taken them with a grain of salt since I don't know if the reviewer is a "competitive" runner or a "run for fun" runner.

I don't give a damn about what the shirt or the medal looks like, if the expo is big or small, or what bands are playing at the post-race party. I just want to run an honest race... and under a 3:10.

ING New York City Marathon
Sunday, November 6

- It's huge (that'swhatshesaid). Lots of people = lots of energy and could use the to pull me to a PR
- NYC is probably the most iconic marathon in the US and should be run at least once (or so I've heard)
- I've never been to NY, so exploring the city would be awesome
- Cool weather, good course

- It's huge (that'swhatshesaid). Lots of people = huge crowds. I'm a small town girl...
- I think it would be an expensive trip
- It's closer to our marathon weekend, thus less time to train after

SunTrust Richmond Marathon
Saturday, November 12
$70 if I register by March 31

- Known as "America's Friendliest Marathon" for its spectators, volunteers, etc.
- Relatively flat, scenic course with few turns. See a video course tour by Runner's World here
- Cool weather likely (average low 37, high 61)
- Has a bus course tour beforehand (LOVE to see firsthand what I'm getting myself into so I can adjust my race strategy if needed)
- Richmond looks like a fun city to visit

- It's on a Saturday. The only reason this is a Con is because it's a departure from what I'm used to. I always run long on Sundays.
- Possible windy conditions on portions of the course

Philadelphia Marathon
Sunday, November 20
$80 if I register within the first month of registration opening

- Nice course with some rolling hills in the first half, making it a nice race to negative-split
- Know people that have run it and liked it, lots of PRs
- Cool weather (average low 40, high 55)
- Sunday marathon, like I'm used to
- "Big city" race (this could be a Con, too, I guess, since I've only run small races)

- Sort of an out-and-back course- which means that I'd be seeing the leaders run by when I'm at Mile 10 or something
- Later November date means possible crappy training conditions in MN
- Mixed reviews on with regard to the start corrals and course

 So what do you think?


  1. Three great choices, so I can see how this a tough decision. I think that if you wanted to do NYC, you'd need one of the other two as a backup anyway because of the lottery. Still, it's NYC, and I rank that up with Boston as a "must-do" marathon.

    Richmond and Philly both look like great races, and both look good for PRs. (I don't know that NYC would be the best choice for a PR because of the number of runners). I'd probably favor the Philly course because it sounds similar to what I train on here in the Cities (read: hills), but I hate out-and-back courses. Watching the Richmond course tour makes it seem hilly enough, and from what I've heard Richmond really is a great city. And, if Runner's World made it part of their Runner's World Challenge last year, it is probably a really good race. It's also $10 cheaper.

    From your list of "cons" for Richmond, they don't seem that bad, so I'm guessing that's what your leaning towards. I don't think you'd make a bad choice with any of these, but if I wanted a 3:10 and these were my choices, Richmond would be it.


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