2014 Boston training outlook + help me choose a half!

Unlike those who say they are done with 2013 and want to start fresh in 2014, I fortunately was grateful enough to have a fairly solid, satisfactory year, particularly as it related to running. That being said, I don’t need to have some kind of calamity to begin 2014 with the same momentum as those eager to leave the previous year behind. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I make resolutions whenever resolutions need to be made: February 17th, April 2nd, September 8th, an hour from now – doesn’t matter. “Goals for the year?” Kind of a silly question when I’m already signed up for a major marathon and a half Ironman for 2014. So, January 1st held no special meaning for me this year. When everyone else seemed to be posting their race or run photos from the morning, I was in bed until the afternoon thanks to being struck with a cough, sore throat, and nearly-absent (it would be totally gone three days later…) voice. Didn’t mind. Life went on.

A calendar year is a recognized period of time, however, and my “marathon training started” immediately after that awful cold/sickness/whatever subsided, so I might as well share some thoughts on what I hope the first part of the year brings for me as a runner. And what it will bring…because I’m registered for things…so I’m doing them of course.

BAALOGO2014

Winter/Early Spring 2014 = Boston Marathon training. As I mentioned before, I am so excited to be able to say I’m “training for Boston.” So. Excited. When it’s five degrees and snowing, it doesn’t feel anywhere close to now, but that’s all a part of training for an April marathon I suppose. No complaints from me. I plan on making a lot of effort to have long run partners each weekend; I think that’s important and it has helped me tremendously in the past. Specifically, faster partners. I don’t want to do every long run at sub-7:30 pace, but I do want to find people who are 100% okay with the pace(s) at which I run my long runs so everyone gets something out of it and just enjoys it. Also, I want to incorporate some faster miles into some of the long runs, and it would be cool to run with people who are on board with that, and that particular faster pace, also. I want to run as many hills on normal runs and long runs as I can. As far as speedwork is concerned, I’d like to do some longer, steady-pace tempos in addition to the Princeton Intervals Tuesday night workouts. I was also thinking of adding in to the workouts I do with the group, since some of them cater more to 5k/10k/half marathon training. I’ll surely be writing more about my training plan as the weeks progress, but these are the main things I want to make sure I do.

The big question: Should I race a half marathon en route to Boston? Part of me thinks it’s only logical, but it should be about six weeks out. That will give me time to gauge my fitness but also have time to recover and continue training hard before tapering (oh, and note to self: decide what tapering actually means and if I really want to do it, because I think I’ve done it right in the past). I’m at a loss as to what half I should do, for two reasons: 1.) Most in this area are less than 5 weeks before Boston weekend, and 2.) I want a flat one. I’ve raced two halves and both have had hills near the end. Remove the hills from Philly and I know I would’ve ran sub-90. I know it. I hope to be in sub-90 shape regardless in March, but the truth is I’ll be training for a full, not tapering, and…well, I’d just rather play it safe. The hills in training will make up for it in time for Boston. I want a flat half course. I don’t care if it’s boring or really small. So what are my options?

e.murraytoddThis race is so low-key that it doesn’t even have its own logo or website. Kate did this en route to Boston last year, and I trust her decision timing-wise because she ran great at both (though they may have been a week closer together then). Negative: I do recall her saying it was “hillier than she expected.” Positive: $30 though! Could be convinced.

celebratelifehalf

I don’t know why I was so drawn to this at first. Maybe the magic “6 weeks out” of the event. Positives: One description says they eliminated a hill at mile 10 for this year (it’s like they heard my calls), the race course goes around some lakes and looks pretty, the late start could accommodate the extra hour it takes to get there. Negatives: it takes an extra hour to get there. Plus, upon further investigation, it appears that the staggered start times for runners slower than 2:30 and walkers will lead to lots of weaving around people. Lots. Just read this.

This was a top contender of mine for last year’s spring half marathon. Positives: IT’S FLAT, I would be competitive in it yet it’s a big race so that’s pretty cool, I’ve never been to Queens or Flushing Meadows Park, it’s on a Saturday which is rare. Negatives: it’s twice as much money as some other options, it’s only four weeks (and two days) out from Boston. Those of you more experienced than I at this marathon thing (ahem, almost all of you reading) please tell me your opinion: is four weeks too soon before Boston?

EML5FbqOrgegNQUE1C1JThis was another contender last year, especially since it was the same weekend as the race I ended up choosing. Positives: I think I could arrange to stay overnight in the area this year thanks to a relocated friend (wasn’t an option last year), 5 weeks away sounds okay to me, and I’ve never had a RnR experience and I hear good things about their races. Negatives: I’ve also heard bad things about their races, the price is steep (food vs. race fee…not a fun game to play), I would have to stay over somewhere the night before, and probably take days off of work for the ordeal.

So, those are basically my choices. I wish there were more races around here the weekend of March 9th! You’d think race directors would pick up on this void that falls in line with a prime Boston-tune-up weekend! I should also note that last year I did the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon in Wilmington, Delaware and have only good things to say about it. I would do it again, but it was hilly and it’s a week later this year, so it just makes sense to do the 13.1 New York race instead if I would consider CR (CR is cheaper though…). Obviously, my goal race is Boston, not a half. So, after writing this all out, I think there is one race I mentioned above that is calling to me more than the others. But I would appreciate any comments, opinions, and guesses as to which that may be. 🙂

Keep in mind, I think my current group of friends this March will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day the way you are actually supposed to, and I won’t want to miss out completely…. 😉

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4 thoughts on “2014 Boston training outlook + help me choose a half!

  1. The Celebrate Life Half is a fun, well organized race that provides a good meal afterwards, however, it is not flat by any stretch of the imagination. I ran last year and plan to run it again this year but if flat is your main criteria for selecting a half this time around, you can probably find a better course. At your pace you would not have anything to worry about with the early starters, there are not that many of them and they get spread out pretty thin across the course. I ran in the low 1:50’s last year and after the first couple miles there was no congestion.

  2. I ran the Rock n Roll USA half about four weeks before Boston last year, and it was a good gauge to see where I was at. I would have preferred maybe five-six weeks out from the marathon to leave time to recover and get in another 20 miler, but that’s my personal opinion. (I didn’t run as well as I wanted at Boston, but I blame going out too fast for that, not racing too soon beforehand.)

    I’m running (well, I need to sign up for…) the 13.1 in Queens. I hear it’s boring, but flat, so there’s that. And lots of Michelob Ultra served after!

    This was not helpful other than to say if you have the option to run a half 5-6 weeks out from Boston, I’d opt for that if Boston is your goal race instead of chasing sub-1:30.

  3. I have done lots of RNR’s. Your positives and negatives are correct!! I always try to get in early and save money!! Also on the 13th of the month they usually do a $13 off! I did DC the first year it was a RNR and it was fun but hilly. I think they have changed the course since then also!

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