At various race expos, several women have asked me the same question that stopped me in my tracks. Alas, nothing salacious or funny, merely, “What’s your favorite race?” A seemingly simple question, but each time I waffle, stammer, hem, haw, and usually finally blurt out, “Big Sur Marathon.” But while I loved the physical challenge and the stunning natural beauty that race afforded me last year, I don’t ever see myself doing that race over again—the weather was too ideal (no wind, bright sunshine) to ever repeat.
Since the most recent posing of the question, I’ve mulled over my response, to have it ready and waiting. At first I thought of the gorgeous Nike Women’s Marathon since it has such sentimental value (Dim and I think of it as the birthplace of our book). Oddly I rule out 2009 Eugene Marathon, where I set my PR, because it hurt so dang much, and my Boston-qualifying 2010 Portland Marathon because it was so soggy.
Instead, I’ve decided my favorite race must be the one I’ve run the most (four times), the Cascade Half Marathon. (Caveat: If the question was my favorite type of race, my no-hesitation answer would be women’s races. For me, XX races are a winning combination of camaraderie and spirit.) As epically fantastic as marathons are, 26.2 miles is not my favorite race distance. For me, half that is ideal: long enough to be a test of endurance and will, short enough to be run-and-done before brunch (including a shower).
The small size and hometown feel of the Cascade Half—it starts and ends at a high school in a quiet, rural town and cuts its way through farmland—suits me perfectly. I don’t like to dodge racers and elbows, and I don’t crave spectators. (Oy, my hermit-writer side is coming out…) I love that the race starts at 9 a.m. and is a mere hour’s drive south of Portland: I can sleep until almost dawn, choose from my own drawers (not a suitcase) what to wear depending on the weather, eat breakie in my own kitchen, then hop in the car with a friend and head on down. The race is in mid-January so the weather is never lovely, but it’s also never too hot. Oh, and did I mention the course is as flat as Ryan Reynold’s abs? Yeah, the race is tailor-made for me. (Already I’m bumming I’ll have to miss it next year as Dimity and I will be in Houston watching the women’s Olympic Marathon Trials.)
Okay, so lay that question—“What’s your favorite race?”—on me because I’ve got my answer. But I wrote this post for another reason: Dimity and I are collaborating on a fun snippet of Train Like a Mother, in which we ponder what would be the favorite races of some famous women. Like we figure famed suffragist Susan B. Anthony would have loved an all-women’s race, while Alicia Keys would dig the New York City Marathon for its empire state of mind, natch. Since you all have suggested some of the most clever slogans on our tees, like “Are my kids still chasing me?” and “This is the easiest part of my day.,” we figured we’d ask you to chime in. Get creative, ladies, and tell us some famous women—alive or dead—and what would be their favorite race. We’ll admit right here that the funniest, more clever responses might land in the pages of our next book.