If you’re like me, the ultimate motivation to get me to run (other than being chased by a masked man with a knife) is training for a race.

Here’s what Chris and I have planned for Spring 2016…

Tobacco Road Marathon/Half Marathon in March in Cary, NC

We both ran in this event in 2014 and really loved it. The vast majority of it takes place on the American Tobacco Trail. This is a former railroad corridor turned into a trail for walking, running and biking. It is gloriously flat. The two miles pre- and post- trail do have a couple of hills and the finish is a nice downhill.

In 2014, the race was really well-organized and the scenery was beautiful (although a little repetitive – look a tree, and another, and another…). My favorite part was the chocolate milk at the finish line!

This year the race take place the same Sunday as daylight savings time begins. Because losing an hour of sleep before running a marathon is a good idea. Fortunately, race organizers were able to push the race start time back by an hour so it starts at a deceptively reasonable time of 8am.

I am running the half marathon (obviously). In 2014, I completed the half in 2:04. It was my very first half marathon and I had kinda wanted to do it in under two hours, but 2:04 felt pretty good. This time around, I REALLY want to do it in under two hours. I think all my slacking off has slowed me down, so I’ve got some serious work to do.

Chris, of course, is doing the full marathon. He did it in 3:19 two years ago. He’d like to shave about 10 minutes off that time. Really, he’d like to qualify for the Boston Marathon but he’s in a pretty competitive age bracket so it’s extra hard. I have confidence in him!

Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic in May in Wheeling, WV

This was our first long race, back when it was a 20k in 2010. The race website says “This challenging, Ohio Valley course — often referred to as the “Toughest Half Marathon in America” — is well-known for its changes in elevation.” What they brush off as “changes in elevation” is actually enormously long, stretches of total uphill. The first of these is a little over 2 miles long and steep enough to have those grade signs to warn truckers. The last of them is near the end of the course and is at least half a mile long and, in my opinion, way more brutal because now you are exhausted and it’s gotten hot out.

I am torturing myself with the race again, because (a) it is now a half marathon instead of a 20k (which by the way is like a mile short of a half marathon) and (b) I wasn’t satisfied with my result in 2010. I had just started running, so doing this incredibly difficult race at all should have made me proud. But instead, I finished way behind the rest of my family and felt like a loser.

In 2010, Chris finished the 20k in 1:40. It took me 2:15. If I could master this race in under 2 hours, I would be elated. Chris, again, wants to take about 10 minutes off. So my real goal is to finish within half an hour of him. I’ll have to start working more on hills…

So, basically we’re doing one of the flattest races around and one of the hilliest! Anyone joining us for either?