Here we go again.
In October last year, I started this blog with a post marking 200 days to go until the 2016 London Marathon. It was, admittedly, largely an arbitrary figure – it was a nice round number that happened to fit in with when I’d been offered a place on the event. Still, 237 days after I wrote that post, it seemed fitting to mark the fact that there are now 200 days until my next 26.2-mile outing – the 2017 Chevron Houston Marathon, on January 15, 2017.
As previously noted, my decision to enter a race in Houston, Texas was largely driven by family (specifically, my foolhardy brother…) and the desire to try something different. Which is sort of good – but also means some interesting challenges in terms of how to prepare. The weather in Texas in January is somewhat unpredictable. It could be cold; it could be hot and humid. How am I supposed to prepare for the possibility of the latter while training in Britain in December?
There are other challenges. I did two half-marathons as practice and build-up for London. I’d quite like to do similar ahead of Houston – this time it’s less about the mileage, more about just getting more practice and rehearsal at doing a long-distance run.
The first challenge is that there aren’t many half-marathons in the UK in late November/early December – the period I’d ideally like to do them for perfect Houston Marathon build-up. So I might have to shift the half-marathons to a bit earlier in the year. There’s a good number of them in late September through to the end of October – the hard part is picking which to do.
For example, in the space of two weekends there are half-marathons that appeal in Bristol, Kingston-upon-Thames and Basingstoke. The Bristol run is a big city race that would give me more practice running in big crowds. The Kington-upon-Thames route is similar to the Hampton Court Palace half I did in the build-up to London, so would be good to compare my form. The Basingstoke one features some big hills that would provide an extra pacing challenge.
But which of those runs will best prepare me for running 26.2-miles on the streets of Houston? Will any of them prepare me for running 26.2-miles on the streets of Houston at all?
Hmmmm, tough questions. And I kinda need to decide soon. Some half-marathons fill up fast these days, so if I want my choice I ought to decide soon.
Here’s the thing: it probably doesn’t matter. Entering a half-marathon is simply a practice exercise. And if the London Marathon this year taught me anything, it’s that you really can’t prepare for the experience of running a big city marathon. But that doesn’t mean I won’t think about it. A lot. That’s kinda what I do.
One of the things I discovered in the build-up to the London Marathon was how much of my brainpower thinking about the marathon took up – even if it was my brain processing largely inconsequential issues. With 200 days until the Houston Marathon, it’s clearly time to start freeing up a bit of space brainpower…