After running two very tough marathons, I've decided that my next challenge should be to see what I can do on a "regular" marathon: Something at or near sea level, with minimal vertical gain. I also would like to do a race that doesn't involve quite as much travel.
Among the fall races in the area, four stood out: Outer Banks, Savannah, Thunder Road, and Richmond, Virginia. Outer Banks and Savannah are the farthest away and probably would be the most expensive. They're also pancake-flat, which actually worries me a bit since I rarely train on perfectly flat routes. Thunder Road is the local Charlotte marathon; I did the half this past year and I like it a lot, but it's still quite hilly, with almost 1,000 feet of vertical gain.
That leaves Richmond, which I've heard great things about from runners in the area. It's got about 500 feet of climbing, which isn't bad at all (Big Sur had nearly 2,000 feet of vertical gain), and the finish is downhill. Several friends will be running the race, which means I may be able to carpool and/or share a room. The drive is reasonable -- about 4 or 5 hours -- and the weather should be perfect there in mid-November. The only serious concern is wind; I've heard the course can be a bit windy, but hopefully that won't affect the pace too much.
I went ahead and signed up for the race yesterday. I have fairly lofty goals for this race, but with almost five months for training, hopefully I'll be able to run that elusive 3:30 marathon in Richmond. I'm looking forward to it.
Details of today's workout are below.
I've been disappointed with my workouts since returning from Colorado, and I've yet to figure out exactly where I'm going wrong. There are several possibilities: I could still be worn out from two marathons; The heat could be getting to me; I may need some time to adapt to running with hand-carried water bottles; and the fact that I'm trying to lose weight may mean my body doesn't have enough fuel for running.
Honestly, it's probably a combination of all four. Today I wasn't even able to maintain an 8-minute-mile pace for a 6-mile run--something that was unheard of two months ago. With any luck, in a few weeks the only factor that will still be affecting my runs will be the heat. Hopefully at that point I'll start to see an improvement in my performance.