The problem with writing entries over time is that so much changes! I've revamped this entry three of four times as I slowly make up my mind!
Many spring marathon prices go up at the start of the new year so my goal is to decide on a race in the next week and a half. Trying to stay in the area, I took a look at all the spring marathons in Minnesota and Wisconsin and I've pretty much narrowed it down to two - the Eau Claire Marathon and the Green Bay Marathon - both in May.
I'm torn between the two of them so I've been making a spreadsheet of all the comparisons, pros/cons and whatnot.
Let's start with Eau Claire since it's the first one. May 2, making an 18 week training plan start December 27. It's a second time marathon but last year got great reviews on marathonguide.
Pros: It's close (3 1/2 hours away), cheap ($55) and has a pretty looking course that's not too hilly. There seem to be plenty of cheap but nice hotels that are close to the start or on the actual course. The half marathon is on the same course for the first 5 miles and I love having them around in a smaller race. I could also place in my age group depending on how it grows the second year.
Cons: It was tiny last year - about 200 marathoners and it would be good to have enough people to have runners going my pace when I'm going for a big goal, it's the same weekend as the Moose Lake 10K (but really, I think the marathon trumps it this year)
Green Bay is May 16 so an 18 week training plan would start on January 10. I ran Green Bay in 2008 and loved it.
Pros: I've been there so knowing the territory and having a positive experience there are big pluses. There's shuttles to the start, plenty of bathrooms and a warm place to hang out in at the start. It's a nice course - pretty spots and not too hilly, a small possibility of placing in my age group. Plus - running around Lambeau!
Cons: it's a bit further away, a little more expensive ($75) and the hotels are more expensive since it starts/finishes at Lambeau Field. It was a bit of a pain figuring out getting back to the car - luckily Kyle walked the 1+ back and met me halfway.
So looking at the rundown there, it sure seems like Eau Claire should beat out Green Bay. However, I don't like the idea of suddenly being in a training plan when I was thinking I had some time to base it up more. Early May means tough times trying to get speed workouts in but really, Green Bay is only 2 weeks later so it's not that big of a difference.
Also . . . I think I'll be doing Grandma's again! I know, I know, this is probably a horrible idea! But! I'm on the Austin-Jarrow Northwoods Minnesota team now and we're actually looking at competing at races together and I know Jarrow is super excited to have a full women's team. With Grandma's being a big scoring event, it's probably pretty important for me to be there. Plus, I'd like my parents (and my sister but I'm pretty sure she'll never come see me race a marathon again) to be able to see me happy and functioning at the end of a marathon. If I made Grandma's my secondary race, then I don't have to stress about nasty weather and I can back off a bit if the hot/humid shit comes upon us again. Really, we're way past due for some normal June Duluth weather. Way past due. I just like the Grandma's course, too - it's beautiful and peaceful for the first 20 miles with enough people to not be on your own and then you come into Duluth and have awesome cheering crowds for the last 6 miles.
So, anyway. Eau Claire gives me 7 weeks between races and Green Bay gives me 5. Probably another positive for Eau Claire. So I'm leaning pretty heavily toward Eau Claire. Anyone who's been there - now's your time to tell me all about what you think!