Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Clinton Lake Ultra vs Illinois Marathon

I have a decision to make. Fairly soon. In 10 days, on March 28, I will be running the Clinton Lake 30-Mile Trail Run. Then 4 weeks later, on April 25, I'll be running the Illinois Marathon. I've been training fairly well, with both distance and speed, but the last few weeks (most of Feb and the first part of March) I've tapered off and only done maintenance runs. Nothing really long and not much sustained speed work. Only this past weekend did I get back to "real" training with a solid 20 mile trail run on the Clinton Lake race course. That run showed me I was not where I needed to be--at least not in racing shape. I can't race both Clinton Lake and the Illinois Marathon. One of them will need to take a back seat. I run hard at Clinton Lake or the Illinois Marathon?  I can't do both.

If I really try hard at Clinton Lake, I think I can do well and even set a PR for the 30 mile/50K distance. I know the course.  The race directors and most volunteers are friends. I'll know many of the racers. It's my "home course" and I feel comfortable there. Heck, I founded and directed the race! I take pride in running Clinton Lake well. I'm not in perfect shape, but I'm in good enough "ultra shape" to race a 30 miler. It takes endurance and discipline more than speed. I think I have enough to conquer the course. And I love that trail.

The Illinois Marathon gives me an extra 4 weeks to train. Unfortunatelty, it also demands much more from me. To do well, I need stamina and speed over 26.2 miles. That's not my forte. And an extra 4 weeks isn't enough time to truly develop speed. But, using Clinton Lake as an extra long, but easy paced effort, will provide endurance. If I supplement that endurance base with marathon paced runs and tempo work outs, I might have a chance to set a marathon PR and even qualify for Boston. Maybe. A BQ would be an awesome reward.

So, what do I do?

I hate roads. I love trails. I love ultras and despise marathons. Love small races and avoid big events.

Clinton Lake offers a better opportunity for success, a fun time, but also less glory. Illinois Marathon offers up the allure of a BQ time, but it's going to be a stretch and I'll need to push my limits on boring roads. Failure is more likely, but success might mean a trip to Boston in 2016!

Any thoughts?  I have a tentative plan, but need to decide on a course of action soon. Very soon.

Do I use Clinton Lake as an easy extra-long run in preparation for the Illinois Marathon and a potential BQ?  Or, do I give it my all at Clinton Lake and try for a doable PR (and jeopardize any chance for a BQ at the marathon)?


Dave Caldwell said...

I think you should do one loop at CL and decide there. If you're having the race of your life, keep going, if not, use the 30 as training and save yourself for IM.

Chris Ⓥ said...


Good idea. One 10-mile loop will definitely give me a good sense of how things are going. I'm still woried that if I back off and do the next 20 miles easy it still might be TOO MUCH and set me behind on speed stuff for the marathon. I'll think about it.

Trudi Schoening said...

The IL Marathon is a fun race. It has great spectator support and loads of energy! However, I think it's a no brainer! Your pros and cons list pretty much puts you running Clinton Lake. I am recovering from an injury and missed a few long training runs. I'm still going out to see all those crazy trail runners out there! Come play in the woods with us! :-D

jeff said...

You are not getting any Clinton as training. you're doing lots of MP don't need much speed, you know 10 this weekend and regular runs then taper 3 days for clinton(run it your normal way) and rest 3 days after then on 4/11-12 do a 10 mile MP run on roads/bike path, your set....your 20miler at Clinton in 3h51 was great XL marathon for Il marathon looks good....jeff R

Chris Ⓥ said...


I'll definitely be at Clinton playing in the woods! I'm leaning toward REALLY enjoying (and going slow) at Clinton Lake, then TRYING for a fast marathon.

Chris Ⓥ said...


Yep, probbaly CL as easy long training run, then lots of MP runs in prep for marathon. I'll have the endurance and I already have enough pure speed, just need the stamina and feel for marathon pace.

Spencer Nelson said...

Hoping to run the marathon in 4

Chris Ⓥ said...

Fat Kid,

4 would be a solid marathon effort. I'm _trying_ for 3:30 or better.