How to Pick a Race

By on 8 April, 2013 in Fun, Meg Lewis, Outdoors with 0 Comments

Photo by Kekka

If you’re new to running, you might be considering your first race. A race gives you a deadline and a goal. The first goal might be just to finish and when you’ve done a few, maybe to finish under a certain time. Whether it’s a 5k, 10K or half marathon, you have to start somewhere and that opens a number of possibilities.

Home Sweet Home
Running your first race close to home is advisable if you’re a control freak or nervous Nellie. You’ll be able to control most variables except weather. You can make your pre-race dinner or go to your favorite place to get the perfect balance of carbs and protein. You can sleep in your own bed. You can check out the course ahead of time. You’ll know exactly how long it takes to get to the race from your house. You can convince local friends to get up and run with you on the big day. The advantages are too numerous to count, really. The only disadvantage is the total lack of adventure, but this is perfect for someone just starting out with road races.

Vacation Race
If you’re not afraid of the unknown and up for an adventure, selecting a race in a place you’ve been dying to visit is a great way to make sure that vacation gets crossed off of the bucket list. There are excellent marathons and half marathons all over the country and the world to choose from. Pick a race and book a few days before or after to enjoy the city. Keep in mind that if you do most of the vacation before the race, you need to find a way to get a few tapered runs in either in the hotel fitness center or out and about in the surrounding area. You also will be tempted to vacation-eat, or more dangerously, vacation-drink. Depending on your perspective on race prep, that could be great or a huge distraction. If you plan activities after the race, keep in mind that you may be sore or tired after a half or full marathon and might want only to soak in the tub or take a long nap. Most importantly, find a great place for that post-race meal because you’re going to be starving!

Event Races
Some races are so popular and so well-planned, or the course itself is such an attraction that you might want to travel to experience them. The Rock and Roll series of half and full marathons are known for excellent musical entertainment on the course and fantastic parties afterwards. They are typically in cities with good tourist offerings as well. The Seaside Half Marathon is a regional race that sells out every year and includes a gift from Vera
Bradley that is a major motivator for many. My personal favorite is the New York City Half Marathon. The race combines an excellent destination (New York City!), an incredible course, and plentiful and high quality entertainment on the course and at the after party. The first six miles are in Central Park, then you run down Fifth Avenue through Times Square where thousands of spectators watch you. The course ends with several miles down the West Side Highway finishing at South Street Seaport. Some of the best athletes in the running world participate in this race along with over 15,000 others. It’s an almost unreal experience and completely worth doing if you are able.

Whatever your experience level or reasons for racing, you’ll find it to be a very rewarding aspect of your running habit. Plus, you’ll get beer and medals, which is motivation enough for most of us.

See you at the start line.

Two great sites for finding races:

Meg Lewis is a runner and cupcake baker who resides a smidge outside of the bypass. She regularly makes her rounds through downtown and midtown Montgomery evaluating the beer selections, live musical performances and the social atmosphere of local establishments in the company of a small and close-knit group of fabulous people.

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