Because I Overthink Everything – Fall Marathon

I overthink pretty much everything.

So picking a fall marathon is a huge decision.

I’m not even 100 percent sure I want to/should do one. Marathons are expensive, and right now we’re very focused on paying down debt. The financial planner in my head is telling me to scrap the idea of a fall marathon altogether.

But … I had so much fun the last time around … and I feel like I have lots of room for improvement.

If I did do a fall marathon, these are the ones I’m looking at, in order of their date:

  • Chicago: Oct 13, $175. Did it last year and loved the experience. Would LOVE to do it again. But the cost is significant. (It’s a World Marathon Major through 29 neighborhoods in the third largest city in the country, and they’ve proven almost every year that they can put on a quality event – the cost is justified in my opinion.) And in a perfect world, I’d like something later in the season, for weather reasons. Maybe I wait a couple years before doing Chicago again.
  • Detroit: Oct 20, $80. Run in two countries! Plus I have a couple college friends who live in the area, so there is a very good chance I wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel. 
  • Monumental (Indianapolis): Nov 2, $80. I’ve heard good things about this race, from many runners.
  • Madison: Nov 10, price TBA. This used to be a spring marathon, but after last year’s crazy warm spring, they moved it to a fall marathon. The date is perfect though – late enough that I wouldn’t stress about the weather, and my really long training runs (over 15 miles) would be after Labor Day.

Genevieve and I are looking at these together, as she wants to do a half marathon this fall, and with the exception of Chicago, these all offer that option. That would also mean we could share the cost of gas and a hotel room (otherwise, footing those costs myself, I may as well just do Chicago).

Me and Gen

Genevieve and me after the Sunburst Half Marathon last June. This was a great race. Maybe I’ll do the Sunburst Marathon some year. So many marathons, so little time.

Right now we are leaning toward Detroit or Madison. Obviously we want to wait until details for the Madison Marathon & Half are posted before we decide anything. We have some time, as I don’t think any of these will sell out anytime soon (other than Chicago), and we have at least two months before any of the prices go up.

Are there any other “local” fall marathon & half combos that we missed? I know there are also options in the Chicago burbs (Fox Valley and Prairie State), as well as Grand Rapids, Columbus, and another option in Indianapolis in October. And Milwaukee Lakefront doesn’t have a half marathon.

Of course, do I really want to do a marathon this year? I probably need to think through that part first. Like I said. I overthink things. (Because I’m pretty sure as soon as this publishes, I’m going to get a bunch of comments encouraging me to do a fall marathon, heck, there’s still time to do a spring one … but this spring is all about my goal half and then Ragnar.) But, my long, loooong term goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. (Or at least … keep improving.) Should I work on getting faster at the half marathon distance before tackling another full? Or just … enjoy the ride? Stop overthinking? (NEVER!!)

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39 Comments on “Because I Overthink Everything – Fall Marathon”

  1. You have so many great options to choose from! I did Monumental this November and loved it (except it was not a closed course). Perfect weather and medium sized event. Let me know if you have any questions about it 🙂

  2. Ive been obsessing over the same thing times 2… Ive got a handfull of spring marathons and fall marathons im thinking about. And then I go back and forth if I even want to commit to a 26.2 when I keep wanting to do a TRI or focus on shorter distances. AH first world problems 🙂 It seems like you have some great options for the fall- I like the idea of running in 2 countries, plus all but chicago are affordable.

  3. Columbus is a great one (with a half option as well). It’s 75 for the full, which is a steal by marathon prices today. I also did Richmond VA, which is a smaller race, but with great scenery. I’m also deciding on a fall race since it looks like we’ll (hopefully) be leaving SF before the marathon to move back East. Considering doing Columbus just because I have family there and can stay for free…or may try Baltimore.

  4. My friend and her husband have done the Detroit marathon and half, and they really love it. Running to Canada and back always sounds SO cool to me, especially since you get to go through the tunnel AND on the bridge! Windsor is really cute along the river too. Also, it’s probably the one day of the year that it’s totally safe to run around downtown Detroit (I used to live there so I’m not hating on it….).

    1. Haha about Detroit. I kind of liked what I saw of Detroit the last couple times I visited friends – reminds me of the south suburbs/south side of Chicago. (Although I realize that isn’t exactly a good thing … but it felt a little bit familiar in some parts.)

      1. There’s a lot of history and pride there, so it’s definitely similar to parts of Chicago. I grew up an hour away and have a ton of family in the area, so I actually have kind of a soft spot for it myself. I’d love to do that half myself, one of these years 🙂

  5. I have done the Quad Cities full and half, there is also a 5k. That one is end of September. It’s a well done race, inexpensive (at least a couple years ago), and parking is easy. I have heard good things about Fox Cities and Grand Rapids too, but I’m not sure if the have half marathons. I haven’t done a fall marathon since 2007, I dislike long runs in July and August! Good luck picking!

  6. Ooh – I’d forgotten that Madison moved it’s date! I hadn’t been planning on doing a marathon, but that’s a beautiful place to run in. The Madison Mini (in August) is my favorite half marathon!

  7. Keep me in the loop as to which one you pick (if any). I won’t be deciding on one until Sept 1st but am hoping I’ll be healthy & ready to tackle a NOV full. I’ve done Indy so would prefer a diff one. I wonder if Detroit will sell out? I’m also considering the Lakefront 50/50.

  8. Those are all great races from what I know/ have heard. I ran Madison in 2011 and it is such a well done race. Just train for lots of hills.

    If you want to BQ, you probably should start focusing on getting faster at the longer distances and not the half! But you said that is a long term goal. Do you mean in your 80s? That is when I plan to BQ 😉

  9. Detroit intrigues me too… that looks like a cool race. I also am waiting on info for the Madison fall one. I <3 Madison! I ran Monumental a couple years ago (half) and just be prepared for lots of turns. Unless they changed the course, I remembered counting an insane amount of corner turns. I just ran the half. A little bit further north, but have you checked out Fox Cities Marathon in Appleton, WI? I believe it's end of Sept. I ran the half several yrs ago. Good race.

  10. Come to Detroit and you and Gen can stay with me no problem, I will feed you a great pre race spread and buy bags of ice for you to do an ice bath afterwards. If Gen needs to bring her kids they can come and play with my kids. I will make signs with your name and bring a gaggle of people to cheer you on, and I will not let you pay for a single thing while you are here.

    1. Also, if any of your running friends from this blog come I will host a pre-marathon dinner for everyone at my house with unlimited pre race foods, or a post race party with unlimited beer and snacks. I mean it, pinky promise

  11. The Chicago Marathon seems to go up in price every year. $175 is expensive but we may look back in a few years marveling at how “cheap” it used to be. All these other marathons will always be there but the chance to do Chicago might not be. I say, go for another Chicago. But then again, you know I have some biases… 🙂

    1. On that same note, I feel like Chicago will always be there too, and do I want to do the same marathon back-to-back? Might be better to try some others and come back to it later on. All of the prices will go up, but hopefully so will my salary??? One of these days?? Ha ha.

  12. I totally, completely, absolutely relate to the fall marathon debate that you’re going through. I’m trying to figure it out myself. I have days where I am very ambitious and am ready to pull the trigger now, but then I have other days when I’m just not feeling the time commitment it’ll take. It just doesn’t feel as “right” to me to run a marathon this year compared to how it felt last year. So how are you feeling this year versus last year?

    It just kills me that with some of the big races like Chicago, you have to make your decision very far in advance. I’m guessing that Chicago will sell out very quickly this year, and it’s scary to have to commit that early in the planning process. Sigh. But I have heard great things about Prairie State and absolutely GLOWING reviews of Fox Valley!

    1. I agree, it is frustrating that for some races you have to decide 8 months in advance that you’re doing it. I won’t even start training for 4 more months.

  13. I was looking at Madison too 🙂 For me, i think that would be the least expensive, because i could drive up that day. I feel like the real cost is travel! And Chicago really is a great race, but dang that price is getting so high….

  14. Why do we have to sign up so early for some of these races? That’s my issue, especially when some of them are so pricey. I want to run Chicago next year but ideally I would register in early May after running Boston and seeing if I wanted to run another race.

    I ran Detroit as my first marathon and loved it. Running into Canada is very cool and when I ran, I got to see the sunrise while I was on the bridge which was awesome. There are fewer runners too which makes it easy to PR but there are stretches with not a lot of spectators. My medal was huge and really cool if you’re into that kind of thing :). I’ll most likely run the half if I decide not to run Chicago.

  15. I’m seriously thinking of doing the Fox Valley Marathon. I think (hope?) it will be a good race. I’d love to do Chicago but $175 is so much money…almost the cost of running 2 marathons if you choose cheaper races. Have you tried looking at reviews of some of the races you’re thinking of running on marathonguide.com? I found that to be a helpful resource when picking races before. Good luck making your choice! 🙂

  16. I’m over thinking my marathon decisions for year as well. Do I run a spring marathon? full marathon? both? neither? AHH. I at least have the list narrowed down its just do I go for it or don’t I? I’m a horrible decision maker. I think you should go for either Chicago or Detroit (I’ve heard good things about detroit!) Good luck with your decision!

    1. It’s sounding like this might be another opportunity for a blogger trip … even if we all stay with our own friends/family, at least a pre-race pasta dinner and beer carbo loading are in order??

  17. Did you get that email from Active with the Monumental promo code in it? $10 off with AXIMMOPEN10, if that changes anything. Chicago would be my first choice, but I’ve never run it before. If you’ve already done Chicago then it would probably be fun to do a smaller race.

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