The big goal, that I actually try not to think about too much right now, lest I get overwhelmed, is the Iron Man in Madison in September. But I knew I needed a more immediate, over-winter goal, lest I just swim once a week and lose all my fall-triathlon fitness. So I decided to pick a spring marathon.
I’ve heard from a variety of sources that I wouldn’t really need to do a marathon before the Iron Man, that plenty of people finish their first marathon as that final leg of the IM. But I’ve got that failed marathon hanging over me. And as much as I can point to the fact that the whole thing was cancelled, the reality is that I wasn’t going to finish anyway. My training fell apart that first year of running, from IT Band injuries, and I never ran over 16 miles. The 18 miles I went (I hesitate to say “ran”) in the Marathon was the farthest I had ever gone. Even while I’ve done longer and longer Triathlon distances, I haven’t run over 10 miles since. So, I really wanted to knock out any potential mental stumbling block before I entered the more grueling IM training.
So, I signed up for the New Orleans Marathon at the end of February. Erica and I both love New Orleans and the timing was just about perfect. I’ve been doing the Hal Higdon Novice marathon training program, again, but this time sticking to the program much more and so far at least, injury free. Out of 15 weeks so far, I’ve only missed 5 runs: a couple from scheduling and three from the bad intersection of a cold and the cold. But the tail end of the training schedule had a couple of potential problems, as long-run weekends ran into some out-of-town trips that Erica and I were taking.
Last weekend, we went to Denver for our friends Kate and Brian’s wedding, and I had a 14 mile run scheduled. I didn’t do much planning ahead of time, other than bringing my running gear, but I was excited to discover when I got there that A) it was an unseasonably warm 50° and B) Denver has developed a really gorgeous set of trails right through the downtown along the Cherry Creek and South Platte River beds. From the hotel I ran over to Mile High Field and found the trails and asked a helpful walking couple for suggestions of which way to run.
The trails were gorgeous, surrounded by downtown and then light industrial just above the riverbed, but with the river and trees and wildlife all down the center. I’m guessing that in the summer when the trees fill in around the edges, it’s even more of an oasis of wildness in the middle of town. Also, there were tons of homeless people. So that was interesting.
I was worried a bit about the elevation, but it didn’t seem to be a problem, and in fact Nike+ said that I set a new PR for the Half Marathon distance.