Thursday, May 10, 2012

Decisions, Decisions. What Would You Do?

So my next big race is the Portland Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon next weekend on May 20th.  I signed up for this race over a year in advance when they announced the inaugural event and had a one day sale (I believe it was May 1, 2011!).  I'm still glad I signed up, but it's kind of a pain because the Girls On the Run 5k is the day before (SIGN UP!), and it's going to be cutting it close making it down to Portland and to the Expo before it closes at 5pm.  That's what you get when you sign up more than a year in advance I guess?!

Anyway, so I've been going back and forth about my two options for this race: 1) Go for a PR, and 2) Make this one of my 20 milers in training for the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.  Both of these options have pros and cons, obviously.  Which is why I'm here asking for your help and advice. 

Option 1: Go for a PR.  Obviously I'd love a PR.  However I'm not sure it's possible at this time.  My PR was set a long time ago (nearly two full years ago) during an all-the-stars-are-aligning moment, and although I came surprisingly semi-close at Lincoln City in March, I was still two full minutes off.  I also don't think my half marathon pace has improved any since that time (it's possible it's even slowed) and the course is eerily similar to Lincoln City's with a big 3-mile-long hill in the middle.  Look at these two elevation charts:

Lincoln City Elevation: 656 feet of gain

Portland Elevation: 338 feet of gain

On the other hand, although it might not be possible, why not at least try?  Running a half marathon all out should improve my marathon fitness, yes?  And I'm way ahead of my marathon training, after all, and this is exactly why, because I built this race and a recovery week afterwards into the schedule.  I've ran one 20 miler already and plan to run a 22 miler the weekend of June 2 (3 weeks out from the marathon).

Option 2: Make this one of my 20 milers.  After running the Seahawks 12k as part of a 15 miler I was instantly in love with the race-as-part-of-a-long-run idea.  It helps keeps you motivated and pushes you.  It makes it something to look forward to instead of dread.  It's so much easier than running the 20 miler not as part of a race.  This would add one extra long run to my training schedule (making my total 20+ milers = 3 instead of 2), which would probably help my marathon fitness.  I am training for a marathon here, after all (not a half marathon), and I REALLY want a marathon PR in June. 

So what will improve my marathon fitness more?  An extra 20 miler or racing a half marathon?  Given that a PR probably won't happen, is it worth going for it? 

What do you guys think?  What would you do?  What do you think I should do?