I need to make a decision. Not one to rival Sophie’s choice, but a tough one nonetheless. It all started when, to my utter shock and defying all odds, I won the lottery. Not THAT lottery (why oh why didn’t I buy a ticket for THAT lottery?). The New York City Marathon lottery for international runners. The lottery no one ever seems to win, so that would-be runners are forced to pay a minimum of $2000 for three nights in half a room plus a coveted race entry (you read that right, half a room, so you need to find a roommate also willing spend $2000 – or $1200 without the race entry – to pay for the other half). And yes, that is the cheapest package buy-in option. How do you say scam? Answer: NYCM international travel partner. I attribute my win to recession economics – I suspect fewer people entered and my odds went up. Although my inner conspiracy theoriest speculates that my public ranting about the NYCM lottery system somehow got me ‘randomly selected’ for the win; but given my semi-anonymity (my complete lack of influence aside, ha) that would take a devilish amount of work on the part of the NYC Road Runners. Unless they happen to have a lot of time on their hands I suspect this notion is a bit (ok, a lot) far-fetched, although it does amuse me to imagine I wield such power in the international running community.
Winning an entry to the New York City Marathon means I am now confirmed for THREE amazing races in a 15 day time period this autumn. As one friend said, it is an embarrassment of riches. Sadly, those riches aren’t monetary – if they were I may not have a dilemma at all. But my pockets are shallow and my vacation days few, so I must decide which of my three marathons to bump to 2010. I started creating pro/con lists in grade school as an easy (and entertaining) means of boyfriend selection and I continue that fine tradition now.
1. The Nike Women’s Marathon in San Fransisco on October 18th. Pros: Of the three fine cities on my list SF is the only one to which I’ve never travelled (my entire experience of California is based on a single trip to LA; The Terminator with his come to Cali commercials would be disappointed). The route is scenic, albeit hilly, and the weather is reliably moderate. The extra touches that celebrate “running like a girl” sound rather cool. I would be remiss to leave out the Tiffany & Co. necklace finisher’s medal. If I’m honest, the city and the necklace are the two big incentives. Okay, if I’m shamefully honest, the finisher’s necklace is the really big draw. I’m like a crow, lured in by shiny trinkets. Cons: SF is an expensive cross continent flight and the hotel deals are few and far between. The hilly nature of the course makes it an unlikely candidate for a PB. The website is pull-out-my-hair slow because of all the flashy add-ons — about 50% of my attempts result in the desired page actually loading properly. As an impatient internet junky, this is a real problem. NWM seems like the kind of race to run with girlfriends, not as a solo excursion. Perhaps most importantly, I haven’t technically registered yet (not to worry, I have entry through a non-lottery process) – so in theory this is the easiest race to postpone.
2. The Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC on October 25th. Pros: More than twenty of my friends and Husband are all running MCM, so it will be all kinds of fun. I love the city and it is my kind of course. Assuming the weather is dandy, MCM is my best shot at a PB this fall. We’re driving to D.C. and we got a great hotel deal, which will save us buckets of cash – of the three options, this is by far the most cost-effective. Oh, and given that Husband is running we’re going regardless of whether I run. And if we’re going, I might as well run. Cons: This is the middle race date, so running MCM means back-to-back Sunday marathons – allowing me only 6 days of rest instead of 13. That said, I’m kind of keen on the back-to-back challenge. I’d qualify to be a Marathon Maniac. Of the three cities the weather in DC is the most variable and race day could be an unseasonable scorcher. I falter in the heat. And by heat I mean anything over 5C.
3. The New York City Marathon on November 1st. Pros: It’s the NYCM! The biggest marathon in the world AND the 40th running; a milestone year that might bring about something really special. I don’t know what they might do for the ruby anniversary, but perhaps I should start lowering my high expectations now. Crazy runners (namely, me)actually pay money just for the chance to run this famous race. For once the streets are people-jammed, not traffic-jammed, with cheering fans and lined with entertainers – I loved that about Boston (well the fans, there wasn’t much in the way of entertainment) and it would be amazing to experience in another city. I truly enjoy race expos and the NYCM expo is supposed to be one of the best. I’ve only been to NYC once, actually just to Manhattan, and only for two days. Four of the five boroughs are unknown to me, except for my Hollywood TV and films impressions. I think NYC is a must-do marathon for the 42.2K tourist. Cons: The expense. Given the proximity to my home turf, I should be able to find a reasonable flight; but the hotel bill may require a second job. My overly anxious self is hesitant to run a race that involves spending hours on an island all alone in the midst of tens of thousands of runners waiting for the race to start. I’m told people bring sleeping bags and tents to the waiting area. A race that requires camping gear worries me. Oh, and I’ve been told if I run on the lower bridge someone might pee on me. That is definitely a con.
Left to my own devices I will flip-flop like a fish out of water until September. If you had my running luck, which race would you defer to 2010?
Title Reference: Meatloaf – Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad. From the album Bat Out of Hell. 1977.