Waiting Until the Last Minute to Register for a Marathon This Fall

I'm biding my time right now. At the (hopefully) tail end of a heat spell that has brought record temperatures to the Southland, I have managed to slowly but surely ramp up the length of my long runs to the point I'm comfortable I can run a full marathon in a few months.

But what marathon do I run?

That I don't know. Yet.

So awhile back I signed up for the Bulldog 25K trail run on August 25th and had a reasonable performance for where I was at in my training. That was a nice mental boost. But still no marathon plans in my mind at that point.

A week later, after a 5 month wait, I finally retrieved my 2012 Boston Marathon shirt from my friend who picked it up for me since I couldn't run the race. Yes, this shirt cost me $150 (the price tag on the shirt actually says $30...but of course the $150 includes the cost of entry into the marathon).

So I'm thinking, what's next. I haven't run a marathon since December 2010 and am not signed up for anything at this point. Then I thought, it has been many years since I ran the Los Angeles Marathon and I've never run the latest "Stadium to the Sea" course.

The L.A. Marathon is March 17, 2013. There were nearly 19,000 finishers in the 2012 race. I've run L.A. a total of 9 times over the years, about 6 times "seriously" and 3 times as a "paid training run" for another marathon. My first L.A. Marathon in 1994 was my first ever marathon, in a wet, rainy 3 hours, 3 minutes. My last L.A. Marathon was a "training run" run/walk/jog in 3 hours, 13 minutes. In between those races, 6 of the other L.A. Marathons were under 3 hours.

Due to the size of the race, organizers have 4 start corrals after the "elite" athletes. I will run L.A. only if I can manage to get into the 1st corral, which requires a sub 3:01 time no earlier than 7/1/11. Gulp. I haven't run a sub 3:01 since my 2:48 in Long Beach in October 2004. However...since then, I've only run 4 marathons, none of them with all cylinders on.

So my predicament is that, I need to run a sub 3:01 marathon this fall if I want to run L.A. But I don't want to travel far for the race. And I still need to train. That brings me back to the Malibu Marathon on November 11th. A race that in 3 years of existence, has brought a measly 14 sub-3 hour performances.  My 2010 time was 3:05 but it was unseasonably warm and I cramped up due to lack of electrolytes. I feel I can run sub-3 at Malibu if 1) the weather is reasonable...no unseasonably warm temps and Santa Ana winds and 2), I can run a 1:24 or faster half marathon prior to then.

Huh? Why 1:24? Because I use a 2.1 multiple in deriving projected marathon time from a half marathon. In my book, a 1:24 half marathon equates to a 2:56 marathon, leaving enough cushion to pull it off.

Next step? Keep doing long runs, possibly a 5K/10K or two, and run the Inaugural Marla Runyan Half Marathon in Camarillo in October. And think happy, positive thoughts to keep illness and injury at bay. Then I'll decide what should be my Fall marathon...