Last year a this time I was preparing for a year full of marathons. Eight, to be exact. I had just run a final training run on 1/1/14 of 10 miles, and was preparing the downward turn in training, aka the taper, for my first of the year in Charleston. This year is different for many reasons.
For those of you that frequent my blog, you know I like to run new races. So focused on trying to get into Boston, I picked a few flat marathons last year, and really didn’t have any success taking advantage of those courses. As I evaluated my year, I realized that although I really enjoyed the multiple marathons I ran last year, that it’s more about quality over quantity. Even though races are close by, I will not repeat marathons that I just didn’t enjoy for one reason or another. Take for instance the Tobacco Road Marathon. I ran it in 2012, and haven’t been back. It’s even right here in the area. A short 25 minute drive from home. Even though Runner’s World magazine touts it as one of the ten best new marathons, I just don’t care for the boring nature of the course. Just because it’s flat, does not mean it is an awesome race.
So, in understanding myself a bit better this year, and what is important to me when running a race, my goals have changed somewhat. I will not run a race solely on the basis that it is considered “flat”. I really could care less. I enjoy hills, undulation, scenery. Sure, I want to qualify for Boston eventually, but I will not run flat races solely on the hope of a faster time. When I lace up to run 26.2 miles, I want to enjoy the course.
With all of that being said, I have carefully planned a few races for this year based on the enjoyment of the overall experience. The Hilton Head Marathon is my first of the year. This race, which I thought I would never run again based on my Mother’s potential move and selling her house last year, holds a special place in my heart. Well, Hilton Head does. My Mom never sold her house, which is a short 10 minute easy drive to the starting line. Race day logistics are so easy because of that. Race day is five weeks from tomorrow!
Hilton Head is a beautiful place. Tucked into the southeast corner of South Carolina on the coast, Hilton Head has been a family vacation spot since I was about 12 years old. It holds many memories. Playing in the surf there when I was young, working there in 1990 and 1991. Spending the Millennium New Year’s Eve there at the Hilton Head Yacht Club. My mother has lived there now for close to 20 years. I will be driving down there for the weekend of February 6-8.
The weather at last years race was less than perfect. It was cold, it rained. It didn’t perform the greatest at all, with a finish of 3:54:00, but it was challenging, and beautiful and memorable. All things I look for in a race. Sure, this course features two difficult over and back sections on a pretty big bridge over the intercostal waterway, but it adds character to the run. Mentally I will be more prepared for that bridge this year.
I am running Hilton Head again because of family, history, beauty and memories. I am not running it in hopes of a Boston qualifying run. Hilton Head is kicking off my 2015 race year, and I hope it’s even more memorable than last year.