In Search of a Spring Half Marathon

Every day human beings are faced with the tedious task of making decisions. While most of the daily decisions we make are trivial — What should I eat for lunch? Which mediocre TV show should I start binge watching? — there are occasionally tougher choices to be made that do, in fact, have significant and lasting consequences — What should I name my child? What Chinese word should I tattoo on the back of my neck?

At the moment, my wife and I are struggling with a decision that falls somewhere in the middle of the importance spectrum: Which half marathon should we run this spring?

It may not seem like a terribly noteworthy dilemma, but when and where we run our half marathon could affect how our entire 2016 vacation calendar shakes out. To say nothing of the time, effort and money a long race weekend might exhaust from us.

There are consequences that come with this verdict that are not to be taken lightly.

In the past, answering this question has seemed far less vexing. We’ve looked at race lists, come across an interesting event that meets the parameters we’ve set, and then we’ve pulled the trigger. Piece of cake. In most cases, more time and effort was spent cultivating a training plan than actually deciding on an event.

However, this year seems to be different. We’ve looked over a few websites, consulted books, had multiple discussions on the subject, yet we still cannot seem to settle on a race. And while we have a few options on the table, the issue feels far from settled.

Half1
I don’t like people, but I like running in a sea of humanity.

The more I wrestle with this topic, the clearer it is for me to ascertain the reason for all of this indecision, and that reason is me.

After running last fall’s half marathon, I decided I wanted this spring’s race to take place in a “good” locale… and by “good” I meant not in the Pacific Northwest. As residents of greater Seattle my wife and I are a little limited as far as drivable cities go. Basically we have Portland to the south and Vancouver to the north. However, I’ve already run half marathons in those locations. I’ve also run halfs in our small town of Poulsbo (my first), nearby Tacoma, and Hood River, Oregon. These are all wonderful places to visit (even Tacoma), but I definitely feel like it’s time for horizon expansion.

For this reason, I’m pushing to make our spring 13-miler a weekend getaway race. I don’t want to just drag my body through a physically grueling ordeal, I also want said ordeal to take place in a locale that requires me to board an airplane.

Flt
This year I need to fly to run.

If that weren’t enough, I’m also pushing for a larger half marathon as it’s been a while since I’ve participated in a big event race. I don’t want to just drag my body through a physically grueling ordeal, I also want said ordeal to include thousands of other masochists and streets lined with strangers who are cheerfully supporting our self-flagellation.

Did I mention I also want to squeeze the race into a narrow window of time (mid-April to mid-June)? You see, my wife and I both need ample training time and I’m philosophically opposed to running long races in July and August. I prefer to spend summer weekends drinking vodka tonics on the deck, not logging obligatory training miles in the heat.

I realize, of course, the odds of finding a race that meets all the criteria outlined above are very low. Much like a disenchanted home buyer on House Hunters, I’m probably going to have to set my wishlist aside and be willing to accept some compromises. And like that hard-working mother of two that can’t get the open floor plan at her price point, I will likely have to give up something I really wanted. Will it be the size of the race? The interesting location? Could it even be both?

I shudder at the thought.

No matter what race I run this spring, one thing is certain… somewhere around the 10th mile, as my body aches and my legs weaken, I’ll be cursing myself for even attempting to run another one of these stupid f*@king half marathons in the first place.

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