With half a platter of carne asada fries left, I knew another bite would be too much. My stomach was full, and I still had a taco left in front of me as well. My dad’s words popped into my head when I looked at all that tasty food with no place to put it. “Your eyes were bigger than your stomach.” It was a classic line in my childhood. I get the same sick feeling at times when I look at my race calendar. Maybe my eyes were bigger than my … legs?
My race calendar is packed past capacity each year. I established this pattern from the day I decided to be a runner (May-June of 2010).
I signed up for my first marathon before I finished a single training run as an adult. At the time, there was nothing wrong with that progression in my mind. Sign up for an August 10K, a November half marathon, and a December full marathon all at once. I laugh thinking back. I had never run more than five miles at a time; my most recent race was a 5K more than 10 years earlier.
My first training and race season was painful, but I learned so many lessons. Nearly everything about my running has changed in the past six years. Except my propensity to sign up for another race. Or, more accurately, for three, four, five more races.
I’m currently 28 completed states into my quest to run a sub-four hour marathon in every state. And I have run 35 full marathons since 2010. My map above shows my finished states (yellow) and the states I’m currently signed up for (blue).
I came close to overdoing it when I added the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on a whim in November. My legs hurt after running the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon the weekend before (normally my legs are fatigued following a marathon but not in pain). Indianapolis was painful. I had a hard time walking up and down stairs for the first time in ages. I doubted myself when I looked at my race calendar and saw another race just eight days later. Then in Vegas, after a week of strength work, stretching, and mobility exercises, I lined up and ran six minutes faster than Indianapolis.
This week I sat down to plan out my races for the next year and a half. Some of my initial plans were ridiculously overboard. Must. Resist. Urge. To. Sign. Up. For. Every. Race.
Finishing my 50-state goal is important to me. But how do I anticipate health and circumstances a year in the future?
Anyone else get far too ambitious when planning a future race calendar?
I’m a member of the Marathon Maniacs. I qualified for the club with three marathons in a 90-day span. My goal going into that stretch wasn’t to become a maniac. I raced hard each time, because it was all about getting faster. My approach to multiple marathons in one race season has changed along with my PR. Now I pick a main race to go all out, and I fill in with other 26.2 efforts as long training runs. This has worked well for me, and I have a racing rhythm. I know what to do with races four weeks, three weeks, two weeks, and even one week apart.
Now I’m trying to balance ambition and discretion as I look ahead to 2017. I want to cross off as many states as possible, but I also want to train and race well to set a new PR. I will race Carlsbad (10 minutes from where I live) in January. I’m currently training hard to attempt a 2018 Boston Qualifier in that race. February will bring Surf City Marathon (also right up the road from me). Then I will be all in for the Boston Marathon in April. I will complete the Boston-to-Big-Sur challenge with another California marathon 13 days later. Big Sur is a scenic, difficult course, so that race will be more about the experience than racing hard.
October is the most challenging month on my race calendar each year. I already know which marathons I want to do in my remaining 22 states. Unfortunately, many of those are scheduled in October. Either I schedule multiple races back-to-back, or I put my 50-states goal on hold.
Many of my running friends have teased me in the past. I avoided telling Jeff and Wallace when I signed up for the Colorado Marathon a few years ago. They had already forbidden me from signing up for another race that spring.
Maybe finishing my 50 states, or at least cutting the number down to a few tough states (Hawaii and Alaska will probably be last), will allow me to slow down a bit.
For now I’m eyeing the Baltimore running festival and the Marine Corps marathon. I have wanted to do those two races for a few years now. And yes, they are on back-to-back days.
Anyone else up for a northeast trip Oct. 21-22?
My 2017 race calendar is taking shape.