Thinking Out Loud

The Fall Marathon Will Be …

Today I am linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for their weekly “Tuesday on the Run” series. This week’s topic is “How Do You Choose Your Races.” For the last few weeks, I have been trying to choose a fall marathon, so I figured this would be a good link up to join. Writing out the thought process of choosing a race just might help lead me where I want to go.

Spoiler alert: It did! Keep reading …

I like to race a lot! I think the process of choosing a race definitely varies by race type, so I am going to break this down into a few different sections, culminating with the marathon selection process, which is by far the most difficult (in my opinion).

5Ks & 10Ks – There isn’t a very complex thought process that goes into choosing a 5K or 10K race (for me at least). It’s usually just based on location. I’ll pretty much do any 5K or 10K within a 50 mile radius. I typically do anywhere from 5 to 10 5Ks per year and 1 or 2 10Ks per year and most of those are just going to be small, local races.

Half Marathon – The half marathon is my favorite distance to race! If I am choosing a half marathon as a goal race, I am going to consider 1) time of year, 2) location and 3) course.

  1. Time of year: I’m probably not going to be doing a half marathon in the months of May – September (at least not a local one). October – April are fair game though.
  2. Location: I am definitely willing to travel a little bit further for a half than I am for shorter races. All of the half marathons that I have done have still been within driving distance, but I’d say that my radius is closer to 200 miles for a half.
  3. Course: The flatter the better!

Marathon – Here is where it gets tricky! There is so much that goes into choosing and training for a marathon. I have been trying to decide on my next marathon here for a while and it’s not a decision I wanted to make lightly. I basically run one marathon a year. I ran my first one in 2011 and I’ve done 6. Over the course of the next 3 or 4 years, I would like to try to do at least 2 or 3 per year, but we’ll see how that works out.

When choosing a marathon as a goal race (side note: I’ve never done a marathon just “for fun” so I don’t know exactly why I am qualifying that it needs to be a goal race, but nonetheless …), I am going to consider 1) time of year, 2) course, 3) race size and 4) scheduling.

  1. Time of year: My marathon window is shorter than my half window. November – January is pretty much when it needs to be. Weather and my work schedule dictate this. I realize that I will have to be open to other months in order to get more marathons in going forward, but I think that will likely just involve a little bit more traveling to get out of the South. I’m cool with that though.
  2. Course: The flatter the better still applies here, but it isn’t quite as much of a concern. It’s harder to find pancake flat marathons and a few (small) hills don’t really bother me too much.
  3. Race Size: I prefer smaller marathons. I’m not a fan of crowds in general, so races like Boston & New York kind of freak me out. I’m glad that I have done them, but I can’t say that I would *choose* those. I mean, when you qualify for Boston & New York you run them, but I am good with a one and done on those.
  4. Scheduling: One of the reasons that it is tricky to pick out a marathon is because I want it to fit as seamlessly as possible into my “race” schedule. The marathon basically takes you out of other races for at least two weeks leading up to it and then probably at least two weeks (if not more) afterwards.

Ultimately, I landed on the fact that this was probably the most important factor for me. I made a list of about 10 marathons that fit into my November – January window and also made a list of the fall races that definitely want to do and then I compared the dates.

Here is the work in progress …

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Before I did this, I was really leaning towards Rock ‘N’ Roll Savannah. I realized that if I did that race, I wouldn’t be able to do the fall 10K that I want to do or either of the “turkey” races that I usually do (10 miler the weekend before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Day 5K).

So after mapping out the dates and compiling a list of other races that I want to do, I was able to at least narrow it down to one weekend that stands out as the best. The first weekend in December is when it’s going to be. That’s a huge start! A training plan can be built now that the date is set.

Right now the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon is the top candidate. It is advertised as “a flat and fast, double-loop course that starts and ends at the Baton Rouge Beach and passes through the LSU campus, around the LSU lakes, and alongside waterfront estates.” I have never done a double loop course for a marathon before, but Daniel and I talked about it and we decided that maybe it won’t seem as long that way?! I think that’s probably being overly optimistic, but we’re just going to go with it.

P.S. I think Daniel is going to run this one with me! We will likely have similar goals for the race, so that will either be A) really great, fantastic and wonderful or B) a disaster. Time will tell! Lol!

What are the most important factors that you weigh when choosing a race?

14 thoughts on “The Fall Marathon Will Be …”

  1. The most important thing for me is usually convenience or course beauty. I have a local 5/10k that I can walk to every spring and that makes it easy. But, I am traveling to Savannah for the RNR half this November. I want to make my halves vacations… looking forward to touring a new city on foot! The Baton Rouge Marathon sounds like fun!


    1. I think you will love Savannah! I did the full there several years ago and loved it, which is why I was even considering doing it again. We stayed out on Tybee Island and really enjoyed that!


  2. Ha! You know you’re running the marathon for fun- because the fun is in training for a marathon, enjoying the process, and pushing yourself. However, you are pretty fast so you would be a contender to place in a lot of marathons out there or possibly win some cash at a race, so I can understand that too. Point is, we all do this because we love it, but I get it that you’re taking it seriously and don’t blame you. If I’m going to train for a marathon, you bet it is a goal race :). I’d run a 5K-Half for kicks though.

    I noticed you had St. Jude on there. I have a friend who ran that one as her first, and she’s now one of those maniacs. So she’s not speedy but she said she REALLY enjoyed that marathon and found it inspirational. I had some friends run Savannah last year and it was brutally hot, so honestly, I would say even October might be out as far as marathons go, unless it’s maybe very late October. Summertime training down South is tough and if your race is in the South, you never know what race day will bring. Even Kiawah last year was record high temps. But one thing about a Fall marathon is that you have winter ones as backups if something does go wrong (but you’re able to race a short while later).

    I think you’ll do well in ANY marathon you pick! Even if it’s hot or humid or cold and snowing, you’re devoted to your training and will get it done. No doubt!


    1. I’m with you on the 5K through half just for kicks! It’s relatively easy for an experienced runner to recover from those distances and still be able to run the next week. Also, totally agree as far as the weather being a total crap shoot at pretty much any race in the South. We’ve had temperatures ranging from the teens to mid-seventies here at the marathon in Mobile. Pure craziness!


  3. Hi,, just came across your blog. Wonderful way to choose your races. I also do the same thing on Google Sheets too. And another thing that caught my attention was- you’re in Louisiana? Baton Rouge, LSU… my husband is from NOLA but it’s been ages since we’ve been there last.
    I will be following your blog and reading these race recaps to feel like we’re there 🙂 some day…soon…we’ll visit again!


    1. I’m actually in Alabama, but not too far from LA! We are just a quick car ride from NOLA, so we do races there every now and then. Thanks for commenting! I hope you get to visit soon 🙂


  4. Go for it! I love trying out new marathons. I have done a double-loop course (and a quadruple loop course) and both were great. The double loop course is actually good mentally because you know what to be prepared for. During the first half you’ll likely feel good and you can observe points on the course and say “when I see this again, I will be super strong”.


    1. Great! Awesome confirmation and advice on how to approach it mentally. We couldn’t decide if it would be one of those things were the half people turn off (or stop in this case) and you are like WHY IN THE WORLD AM I DOING THE FULL? or if it would just not seem quite as long. Haha. I can’t imagine a quadruple loop course! That takes a lot of mental fortitude, which obviously you have a lot of 🙂


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