Thursday, December 04, 2008

Racing and Me

I interrupt my usual bunny blogging and thoughts about cooking and dull personal topics for a little of what this blog used to be about: endurance sports.

I'm not doing the Houston Marathon this year. The main reason is that it filled up so much earlier than any previous year. I like to wait until I'm back from my summer vacation and have assessed my health and finances before committing. But even though I went to register at an early-for-me date in July, the marathon was already full. Unprecedented.

But in a way I was relieved. The last couple years I've gone out there wondering why I'm doing it, other than habit and orneriness, which aren't good reasons for running 26.2 miles.

In fact, I race very little these days. In my first few years of running, I tried to do all the important local races, especially the marathon warmup series, but then I lost interest, not for the running but for paying money and showing up at a specific place at a designated time to do what I would've done anyway on my own schedule.

The blog owner at Studies in Clydeology summed up my problem in an email to me: The nice thing about a metro area with a good race venue is there are a lot of races. The bad thing is that there are a lot of races but all on the same venue or two.

That's exactly it. All the big Houston races are run on basically the same routes, which are also part of my regular training routes. When I'm on vacation, I'm disappointed if I can't find a race wherever I'm at, because running is a fun way to check out the local scenery. But at home I avoid racing. The idea of paying good money to trot the standard course seems silly.

Having said that, I'm pondering the following two marathons that are close enough to not require major time on the road, but not so close that the venues are in any way familiar:

I might do one, both, or neither, and I hope they don't fill up before I decide. In the past, I've always worked in a job that made me feel like a slacker for taking any time off at all, for any reason. But in my current job, I often feel like the only one not taking personal time each month. This far ahead, there's no reason I couldn't request the Monday after either of these races as a personal day to rest and regroup. And now that I have a little experience driving Dan's Jeep (the newer and more reliable of our two vehicles), transportation isn't a problem for me, either.

I need to do a little more thinking on these two races, and do some research on what others have thought of them. I seem to recall having read positive things, and if I can get the time off from work to make up for time lost from my usual weekend activities around the house, these races might be just what I need to spark things up a bit.

I'm a little sad not to be doing the Houston Marathon this year because it's been such a big part of my life for the last eight years, whether I ran it or ended up having to bow out due to injury or illness. I may skip the expo this year too, as much as I like checking out the new gear and helping myself to the freebies. But I should be taking advantage of the opportunities I have with my new, more relaxed job and start thinking of race venues further afield. I'm lucky to work at a place that pushes work/life balance and there's a lot more to the local running scene than what goes on in and around downtown Houston.


Glenna said...

I've often thought that it would be a great way to see the country: run the race, then be a tourist. One of my friends ran Chicago for that reason.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Sounds like you're ready to shake things up a bit! As hard as it will be to miss the Houston one with all it's associations, might be kinda fun to try something different.

(And I'm just catching up here--sorry to read about your friend. And thanks for the safety reminder, it could happen to any of us.)

YowlYY said...

I don't do running (I am a lazy person and stick to my excuse!) but have you ever thought of signing up for a marathon abroad? There's plenty in Europe, in the UK quite a few :)

bunnygirl said...

YowlYY, if I could afford to travel overseas, I would definitely combine it with a marathon or some other kind of race. Alas, foreign travel is not in our budget.

Sarah said...

I've done both of those races -- well, the half marathons anyway.

I love Seabrook because it's 10 minutes from my house and I run those trails all the time. The pro is that it's small and you get to see people a lot, and the trails are pretty. The con is that the reason you get to see people a lot is that the course is very repetitive! Pretty, but repetitive. The full marathon is 4 out-and-backs on the same route.

Surfside was a cool experience because you get to run on the beach. A pro is that it's also small, and the scenery is nice. A con is that it's really does slow you down to run on sand, even though it's hard packed, and there's basically no spectators at ALL.

This year, I will probably do the Seabrook Half but skip Surfside.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Oh what a quandry .. too bad Texas and Houston are so far from some of the great West Coast marathons, especially up in Northern Ca or Oregon.

Thomma Lyn said...

Sounds like a great plan! Good luck finding cool new race venues.

I used to do some running years ago, but I never raced. The farthest I ever ran was nine miles, and that was on my treadmill! ;-D

d. moll, said...

I imagine it's a bit too far, but there is the Big Sur Marathon, now there's some scenery. Most of my racing is in circles......

Vickie said...

I have a lot of the same thoughts on doing local races. I find myself looking elsewhere for my race excitement, but then also end up doing a lot of local things because they are close by, making it cheaper all around. But I do prefer the excitement of traveling to a new venue to do a race. I'm sure if we had better winter weather I would do a lot more than I do now.

RoadBunner said...

They both look like great races (and the fees are pretty reasonable for a marathon IMHO)! I don't have any sort of annual race I like to run. Change in running scenery is always a good thing. I agree with RG...You should come to CA and do a race. Maybe the SF Marathon! Mario invites you over (just bring him a craisin)!