Then I got real. There is no perfect marathon. Bottom line is that you still have to conquer 26.2 miles wherever you go, whatever race you run. You still have to have the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional fortitude to go that far. The will to run approximately 52,400 steps. The guts to go 138,336 feet. The strength to dig deep for hours on end. The power to hopefully meet that PR goal that takes you or me to Boston on Monday, April 19, 2010.
I did realize that you can try to make sure your marathon choice optimizes your chances of that PR. Average good weather, flat course, good support on the way. But after that - it's all me and what I've got to give.
That said, it looks like the San Antonio Rock 'n Roll Marathon on November 15, 2009. Average temp: 60 degrees. 400 ft. elevation. Few, if any hills. Lots of fans along the way (as in people, not those devices that spin and give off air). Fun place to visit (pre race margaritas, yes!). And the best part: Julie, The Pacer will be there with me.
The Pacer is one of my best friends. I met her in graduate school. She is a running machine. A gazelle. An aberration. Until recently I haven't been a runner, so I never truly appreciated just how fast Julie has been over the years (since she was 14). She is so incredibly humble, she would never dream of bragging about her abilities or weaving her race times into a conversation. But when you look at her race times, you are in awe.
Months ago, I asked The Pacer if she'd take me to the finish line in my next marathon and get me there in 3 hours, 50 minutes, my BQ time. If anyone can do it, she can. The Pacer lives in Breckenridge, Colorado and trains at that altitude. Running a 3:50 marathon is nothing for her. She could probably do it tomorrow morning before her oatmeal.
But even with a flat course, good weather, and The Pacer, there are no guarantees.
That's what keeps me in the game. Risks. The unknowns. Race day is a big crap shoot. You could train endlessly and feel fully prepared to meet your goals. Then you could awake to a torrential downpour and driving wind. Or you could soil yourself to the point where you need to stop. Or your body might just give out and say, "no more." Fortunately, there's always another race. The great thing about running is there is always more. You can always go faster, you can always go further. And there is always, always a do-over.
What's been your biggest race day surprise, for better or worse?