Not everyone considers racing an integral part of running. Even amongst people actively trying to improve their performance, not everyone needs a public event to do so in. Others of us, on the other hand, need something to look forward to; something for our training to be in pursuit of; something to be held accountable to. Apparently, I am one of those latter people. Yes, one of those people who finds #nothingToTrainFor to be one of the saddest hash tags on Twitter.


As some might now, we try not to plan our travels around races. But as soon as I know where we’re going to be (or even where we might be) I start searching1 for races near where we’ll be. And damn, there is a lot to do in Ventura County and the LA sprawl. We even accelerated our southbound journey by a day in order to get here just in time for the Santa to the Sea Half Marathon.

My “short list” of potential 2011 races grew quickly. I wanted to focus on half marathons this year, under the logic that before I try to train for a stretch marathon goal I should try to attain a half marathon time that is predictive of said marathon time2. However, there was a business trip looming since before the holidays and February is annually a busy travel month for us3, so weekends started getting spread across the country and races, especially the halves, had to be crossed off.

Yes, I color code potential races by state.

Further bummer.

The Surf City half in Huntington Beach got scrapped before it even made the list because it has no shorter race4 for my wife to do and all the beach front hotels were booked up.

The Rose Bowl Half Marathon was scrapped because it is OBSCENELY expensive for no apparent reason and I found it morally reprehensible to give them my money. (And a quick survey of my virtual running friends validated this. I’m not crazy.) Over the course of the week prior, I actually made and canceled a hotel reservation in Pasadena four or five times.

The Ventura Half Marathon was missed because it was during our anniversary trip to Ottawa. Which is really too bad because I like trying to support those small, community run races, even when they are for-profit.

The Great Race of Agoura Hills, which features TWO half marathons (run the hill trails or run the Hollywood back lot sets) and every shorter length imaginable, was one I was really looking forward to (though I hadn’t decided which half), but an “early March” business trip has been pushed out to block that one too.

And then we’re in to April, and in all likelihood leaving Ventura County before the Lake Casitas Half (and definitely before June’s Ojai to the Ocean Half Marathon).

Triple bummer.

But because the only plan we live by is the ability to adapt to constantly changing plans, we’re making the most of the aforementioned “early March” business trip, tacking on visits to our parents while we’re on the east coast. And, of course, before we leave New Hampshire, we’ve found a race that has both a half and a 5k5. This extra east coast time will make us miss two concerts we were looking forward to at the Ventura Theater6, but life will go on.

So, there’s a plan in place, and I’m actually registered for TWO half marathons. Seven days apart.


April 3, 2011

In Newmarket, NH, I’m all signed up for the Great Bay Half Marathon, which friends of ours ran last year and is reported to be a well organized race and a good time to be had. It starts late in the day (11:00!), but we managed to book an flight out of MHT, it ought to fit in well for our last day in NH.


April 10, 2011

In Paso Robles, CA, we’ll be stopping for the night on our way from Ventura County up to the Bay area, and I’m registered for the Wine Country Half Marathon. My wife wants me to try to win it (yes, outright) because the winner gets their weight in wine. Unfortunately, that will require my to shave about 20 minutes off my PR (based on last year’s results), but it’s a fun incentive!

Yup; 13.1 per coast, 7 days apart. And no “traveling to races” . . . technically.

I haven’t decided yet which race will be the full-out effort. It’d be foolish to think both can be, and while the first one is obviously better odds, I’ll let the indeterminates (weather, race morning “feel,” etc) guide my effort. I whipped out a 1:40 13.1 training this week, after 5 days without running, which is only a few minutes slower than my PR, so I’m pretty confident that with focused training over the next month I’ll be able to PR again, at least by a bit, if not hit that 1:30 goal pace.

I’m really quite giddy inside to be all registered and committed and ready to go again. I love running “just to run,” and I’ve even been doing a pretty good job of keeping to my goal of more “training runs” instead of just more “junk miles.” But finally having the races on the calendar7 has given me a new determination and excitement that has been missing from my runs lately. And that brings me joy8.


Show 8 footnotes

  1.’s mapShot feature is the greatest thing ever invented for nomadic runners. …in the USA, at least.
  2. Whoa. That sentence hurt my head. Sorry.
  3. It’s both our anniversary and my wife’s birthday, so we usually go somewhere fun for one – if not both – occasions. This was year 10 on the marriage thing, so we’re doing both.
  4. The half technically is the shorter race.
  5. This whole “shorter race” thing, by the way, is because my wife is not a distance runner, so we try to find events that have a 5k or 10k attached that she can enjoy, or at the very least are somewhere scenic or otherwise amusing for sweet lovely spouses who are waiting for their distance runners.
  6. Dead Man’s Party and the Adicts, if you were curious, but at least we’ll be in town for Peter Murphy!
  7. And making good progress this month towards my optimal race weight!
  8. And might help fight this newfound habit of arbitrarily putting things in quotes.