2011 marathon – help me decide which one

So, I’d like to run a marathon this year. And I guess that means I should decide which one!

Stipulations: Don’t want to do one anytime in the next few months. I’m training using P90x right now, and I’m really enjoying working out indoors given the current weather outside (brrr!).

I also have a decision to make. I’ve run 2 marathons thus far, and they happen to have been in 2 different states. Do I look for my third marathon in a third state, not necessarily going for the 50 marathons/50 states goal that some have but why not? Or do I stick with either of the first two marathons, as they were both great experiences? Not to mention one of them is my hometown marathon

But, here’s the thing about traveling for a marathon: I don’t love the idea, in theory. Running a marathon is expensive enough, what with all the running shoes and clothes and race entry fees … add hotel and/or plane reservations on top of that, and it really adds up. Plus, I can’t be arriving the day before the marathon. I need a few days to get there, relax, pick up race packet, relax. That’s just me. The exception is this: running the Marine Corps Marathon wasn’t too different than being at home, considering my in-laws live there. So I had a place to stay that felt like home, I was able to arrive early, and there was plenty of space to relax and cook and sit in the sauna (ahhhh, that was the best.)

So, all that said, the two marathons I’ve already completed are absolutely not off the table:

= Thunder Road Marathon, Charlotte
= Marine Corps Marathon, Washington DC

There are other things that appeal to me too, though. Such as, what about a marathon where other friends live?

= Phoenix marathon – I absolutely want to run this one. It’s in Anil’s back yard, so I could easily get there early and relax. It’s flat. It’s a Rock ‘n’Roll marathon which I hear are awesome. Only problem is, it’s this weekend. So, obviously it’s not happening this year. If I run it, it’ll be 2012. And I don’t want to “skip” 2011. Maybe I run Marine Corps and then run Phoenix? Or find a marathon even earlier than MCM and then run Phoenix?

= Disney Marathon – This one is flat. And my in-laws live in Orlando. And free tickets to Disney at the end are totally cool. It’s also in January though, so I’d have to run 2012. The other bad thing about a January marathon is trying to keep up with training over the holidays. Those I know who have run them have mentioned how difficult it is to stay on track.

Both of the marathons I’ve done are hilly. What about a flat marathon? Or a down hill marathon?

= Tuscon Marathon – Ok, this one is really appealing. It’s in December, not January like the Phoenix marathon. It’s downhill. I’m drooling over the elevation chart. It’s the same weekend as Thunder Road, which means I can’t do Thunder Road but it also means training starts in August, which is better than July. I just quizzed Anil as to whether he’d run it too, and he said sure … so this, my friends, may be the winner! I just did a search for downhill marathoning, and the caution is to make sure to train for it. So if I run it, I’ll have to make sure to look for some good hills to train running down. Might not be too easy to find around here …

Ok, so I’ve convinced myself through writing this post that if I’m going to travel for a marathon it needs to be somewhere that a friend lives, so that I can crash at their place and feel “at home” while I’m there. I’m also convincing myself that if I run in Phoenix or Disney that I also need to plan for something else, since those are in 2012. And after running Marine Corps Marathon in October, I just needed a break for a while so I didn’t do Thunder Road, so planning for 2 marathons may be tricky. And the idea of a flat or downhill marathon seems like a fun change. I’m really loving the sound of Tuscon, which would be 3 marathons in 3 states, but if anyone else has a suggestion I’m all ears!

What are your training goals this year? In addition to the marathon, I’d also like to do 1-2 triathlons and of course, complete P90x!

*Update: Since I started writing this post about 2 days ago, I’ve all but convinced myself that Tuscon is the one. Anil is excited too. But I still want your opinion, especially about downhill marathon running. This advertises a gentle slope down, a perfect first or fastest marathon. So it sounds rather pleasant. Tell me if I need to know something special! Will be Anil’s first marathon.

*Shawn also has me convinced on the Disney Wine and Dine (I almost called it Dine and Dash, haha!) half marathon in September in Orlando.






18 responses to “2011 marathon – help me decide which one”

  1. beth Avatar

    thunder road is in november this year. or you could do savannah november 4th!

  2. Melissa Avatar

    Oh my gosh I forgot about Thunder Road moving up their date! If this past year is any indication, though, once I do that first marathon I need a little more of a break than I thought. I was in good physical shape to do Thunder Road after running Marine Corps, I just didn’t *want* to … so I would hate to do TR and then bail on Tuscon …

  3. Colleen Avatar

    I would go for the Disney Marathon. I know people that did it and loved it because of all the fun things to see! Plus, you know some people in Orlando 😉

  4. Melissa Avatar

    Disney would be awesome but it’s in January so I’d either have to skip 2011 or try to run two near each other … I’m thinking that half marathon Shawn told me about would satisfy the Disney thing – it’s at night, it’s this year, and it sounds awesome! You should come for it!

  5. Justin Avatar

    Disney is supposed to be lots of fun. I may take the plunge when my kids are old enough for Disney. I don’t do Competitor events (RnR) because of the way they cater to bucket listers and not lifelong runners with their absurd entry fees, but yes Phoenix is supposed to be a good one. If you want to do a smaller one, Steamtown and Run for the Red in PA and Mohawk in NY are all downhill point-to-point races that are inexpensive. And you could throw in your name into the NYC lottery — you never know.

  6. Brian Avatar

    I say run the Disney marathon for obvious reasons. One being my employment there so I am biased and two (and most important to me) is that I am training to do the half marathon then. Disney actually hosts several full and half marathons throughout the year like the flagship marathon in January, the Princess marathon in Feb/March an the Wine and Dine in Sept/Oct.

  7. Melissa Avatar

    @Justin – New York would be amazing … one of these days I should enter the lottery. Good to know about Rock n Roll, too!

    @Brian – congrats on the half training! Were you working or around during the Wine and Dine? It sounds like so much fun.

  8. Anil K Avatar
    Anil K


  9. Whitney Avatar

    I say you come run the Flying Pig with me in Cincinatti, OH on May 1st!! 😉

    Though, Disney does sound awesome. I’m doing the Princess Half at the end of next month.

  10. Melissa Avatar

    Anil, I cooked myself a *very* complicated and gourmet pre-race breakfast. Here it is:

    = Brew one cup of coffee
    = Slice one bagel in half (oh, who am I kidding, I used the bagel thins that were pre-sliced)
    = Toast bagel
    = Spread peanut butter on bagel
    = Slice banana. Put what will fit on bagel. Eat rest.

    Viola! You’re impressed, aren’t you?

  11. Melissa Avatar

    @whitney – Awesome you are doing princess half! Joe and Shawn are doing it. If I’m not mistaken they’re doing it in pink tutus. I should mention what tough guys they are with tattoos and everything else. It’s totally awesome.

  12. Scott Avatar

    you should at least enter lottery for NYC! All the cool kids are doing it. 🙂

  13. Jason Avatar

    Disney is an EXCELLENT marathon experience. So much fun and so many distractions along the way. It does fall into the high marathon “overhead” category (e.g. high costs, lots of people, travel) but they give great stuff (medals and shirts are world class).

    Richmond in November puts on an excellent marathon as well. Smallish (5000 runners?), beautiful fall colors, surprising support from the residents and I think this year is their 35th or 40th anniversary…

    If you are thinking at all about NYC then enter the lottery and plan to do so for the next 3 years if you don’t get in (4th year is guaranteed entry). One of the Epic marathons.

    Chicago (Oct) is my favorite large marathon by a long shot. Great city (fans nearly the entire course), great organization and FLAT/FAST!

    There are some unreal marathons (scenery galore) in the Wyoming/Idaho area. Mesa Falls in August is likely the most scenic marathon ever. Some hills but the profile is down, down, down!

    Grandfather Mountain (July), Roanoke (April), Ridge to Bridge (Oct), Pilot Mountain Trail (February), Uhwarrie (February) and Ellerbe Springs (March) marathons are all small-town, arse-kickers where finishing is the only goal. Awesome small marathons that are driveable the morning of the race.

    In geek-tacular fashion I have cataloged the past few years of races I have run on my website with some commentary…

    You can’t go wrong with Disney! Do it!

  14. Crystal Avatar

    Well SC is right across the street and I hear that the Kiawah Island Marathon is flat and I bet that would be beautiful. You would not have to fly, just a short drive. December 10, 2011 http://www.kiawahresort.com/recreation/marathon/

    and let me tell you something I just found in the process, I think it is soooooo cool. While searching SC marathons, I found a USC Dance Marathon. Now we all know how you love to go out and dance. It is a 24 hour, no sitting – no sleeping event in Columbia, SC and all money goes to the children’s hospital in SC. Great fun and a good cause. I am going to look more into this. Here is the site:

    Who said you had to run during the marathon?

  15. crystal Avatar

    Upon further review of the Dance Marathon, because I was really excited, I learned that in order to be a dancer in the marathon, you have to be affiliated with a branch of USC in some way. You could be student, faculty, or alumni. I am an alumni, but I do feel that even this would be something you would need some training for. You can’t just up and stay awake for 24 hours while constantly moving if not in shape.

  16. Jessica Avatar

    You are ruling out Spinx RunFest? Kidding. I know you’ve done the half here, and for the not-so-scenic route for the full, I believe that it was a little expensive. But you do have several sets of friends here (and family!) who would more than welcome you to stay in Greenville for the weekend and run! 🙂

  17. Brian Avatar

    Sorry for the delayed reply. I wasn’t necessarily around during the Wine and Dine but I did hear mixed results. My department also did research so it was interesting to see the good and bad. Being that it was the first Wine and Dine hopefully all the kinks will get worked out.

  18. Heather Avatar

    Marathon,shmarathon! Do the Rock n’ Roll Half, ’cause it’s in my town!