2011 marathon – help me decide which one

So, I’d like to run a marathon this year. And I guess that means I should decide which one!

Stipulations: Don’t want to do one anytime in the next few months. I’m training using P90x right now, and I’m really enjoying working out indoors given the current weather outside (brrr!).

I also have a decision to make. I’ve run 2 marathons thus far, and they happen to have been in 2 different states. Do I look for my third marathon in a third state, not necessarily going for the 50 marathons/50 states goal that some have but why not? Or do I stick with either of the first two marathons, as they were both great experiences? Not to mention one of them is my hometown marathon

But, here’s the thing about traveling for a marathon: I don’t love the idea, in theory. Running a marathon is expensive enough, what with all the running shoes and clothes and race entry fees … add hotel and/or plane reservations on top of that, and it really adds up. Plus, I can’t be arriving the day before the marathon. I need a few days to get there, relax, pick up race packet, relax. That’s just me. The exception is this: running the Marine Corps Marathon wasn’t too different than being at home, considering my in-laws live there. So I had a place to stay that felt like home, I was able to arrive early, and there was plenty of space to relax and cook and sit in the sauna (ahhhh, that was the best.)

So, all that said, the two marathons I’ve already completed are absolutely not off the table:

= Thunder Road Marathon, Charlotte
= Marine Corps Marathon, Washington DC

There are other things that appeal to me too, though. Such as, what about a marathon where other friends live?

= Phoenix marathon – I absolutely want to run this one. It’s in Anil’s back yard, so I could easily get there early and relax. It’s flat. It’s a Rock ‘n’Roll marathon which I hear are awesome. Only problem is, it’s this weekend. So, obviously it’s not happening this year. If I run it, it’ll be 2012. And I don’t want to “skip” 2011. Maybe I run Marine Corps and then run Phoenix? Or find a marathon even earlier than MCM and then run Phoenix?

= Disney Marathon – This one is flat. And my in-laws live in Orlando. And free tickets to Disney at the end are totally cool. It’s also in January though, so I’d have to run 2012. The other bad thing about a January marathon is trying to keep up with training over the holidays. Those I know who have run them have mentioned how difficult it is to stay on track.

Both of the marathons I’ve done are hilly. What about a flat marathon? Or a down hill marathon?

= Tuscon Marathon – Ok, this one is really appealing. It’s in December, not January like the Phoenix marathon. It’s downhill. I’m drooling over the elevation chart. It’s the same weekend as Thunder Road, which means I can’t do Thunder Road but it also means training starts in August, which is better than July. I just quizzed Anil as to whether he’d run it too, and he said sure … so this, my friends, may be the winner! I just did a search for downhill marathoning, and the caution is to make sure to train for it. So if I run it, I’ll have to make sure to look for some good hills to train running down. Might not be too easy to find around here …

Ok, so I’ve convinced myself through writing this post that if I’m going to travel for a marathon it needs to be somewhere that a friend lives, so that I can crash at their place and feel “at home” while I’m there. I’m also convincing myself that if I run in Phoenix or Disney that I also need to plan for something else, since those are in 2012. And after running Marine Corps Marathon in October, I just needed a break for a while so I didn’t do Thunder Road, so planning for 2 marathons may be tricky. And the idea of a flat or downhill marathon seems like a fun change. I’m really loving the sound of Tuscon, which would be 3 marathons in 3 states, but if anyone else has a suggestion I’m all ears!

What are your training goals this year? In addition to the marathon, I’d also like to do 1-2 triathlons and of course, complete P90x!

*Update: Since I started writing this post about 2 days ago, I’ve all but convinced myself that Tuscon is the one. Anil is excited too. But I still want your opinion, especially about downhill marathon running. This advertises a gentle slope down, a perfect first or fastest marathon. So it sounds rather pleasant. Tell me if I need to know something special! Will be Anil’s first marathon.

*Shawn also has me convinced on the Disney Wine and Dine (I almost called it Dine and Dash, haha!) half marathon in September in Orlando.