I’ve been toying with the idea of running a marathon since right around Mile 11 of the Princess Half Marathon. I was so close to the end of the race and felt great, so I started thinking that maybe running 26.2 miles wasn’t as impossible as it seemed just a few short months ago. Running a marathon is never something I wanted to do. I’ve had a few friends who have done it, and while I had a heck of a lot of respect for them, I just never had the desire to do it myself.
There’s something addicting about running though. If you’d told me 6 months ago that I was seriously considering signing up for a marathon, I’d tell you that you were out of your mind. Yet, here I am, not just trying to decide if I should run a marathon, but trying to decide which one to do as my first. I’m struggling with the decision though. I have it narrowed down to two races and they both sound great.
First, the Walt Disney World Marathon in January. I’ve been told that this race is tough to top. You run through all four parks, there is a ton of on-course entertainment, beautiful medals, great crowd support. As with most Disney races though, a lot of runners seem to consider this a “fun” race and not one to be super serious about. Not that it’s not a serious race, anytime you cover 26.2 miles powered by your own two legs and a few energy gels, it’s serious. This one is more about fun though, you see a lot of racers rocking their Mickey Mouse ears, dressed as their favorite princess, and there’s a TON of sparkle. This race seems like it’s one that would be a lot of run to run with a group of friends (as my twitter buddy Marcia pointed out to me in her recap of last years race). I don’t typically run in a group, but I do have two friends that may be interested in doing this one for fun and not a killer time, so maybe..?
The other race I’m considering is the Space Coast Marathon, in December. According to their site, this course is “one of the most beautiful waterfront courses on the east coast”. There is something so peaceful about running alongside the coast, being able to look out over the water. That’s a definite perk for me. The course is also partially shaded and mostly flat, a lot of people use it to BQ. All of the aid stations are space themed, volunteers are wearing space-themed gear, there are photo-ops on site with astronauts, and the medals are equally beautiful. This race is also MUCH smaller (capped at 4,000 runners) which is a definite plus, as it’s no fun adding extra distance to an already long race by dodging other runners. Did I mention that their official “space snack” is a Moon Pie. How can I say no to a Moon Pie?
Either way, I won’t be on my own. My husband is planning to run the half marathon both weekends, so he’ll be there either on course with me (at Space Coast) or cheering from the sidelines (at Disney). I have a friend planning to run the half at Space Coast as well and a few friends running different races over Marathon weekend at Disney. They’re not really helping to make my decision any easier! My husband certainly isn’t, he just told me to run both!
My first big race was a a Disney race and it was wonderful. I loved the energy, the crowds, everything. Running down Main Street, U.S.A. while a huge crowd cheers for you and reaches out to give you high fives was an absolutely incredible feeling, one I’d definitely love to feel again. I also really love the smaller local races where I can easily run at my own pace, with less stress, pretty surroundings, and fun crowds.. and moon pies. So, do I go for crowded and a more fun oriented race or do I go for a smaller and more serious race? As with my first half marathon, my main goal here is to just cross the finish line. I don’t have a time goal in mind, though if I’m being honest, I have to admit that I am a little bit competitive. I love seeing my average pace drop the more I train and it would feel really good to have a decent finish time for my first marathon. It’s not a necessity though.
I have no clue which racing environment is better for a first marathon. If you were me, which would you choose? How would you decide which to run? Do you think one makes more sense for a first timer?