Staying local for Marathon No. 10: The Salisbury Marathon

The Salisbury Marathon starts near the Salisbury City Park. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I enjoy traveling to other states to explore and run marathons, but this spring, for my 10th marathon, I’ll only be traveling about a half mile to the start line.

I have decided to run the Salisbury Marathon in Salisbury, Maryland, on April 6.

I knew that I wanted to run the race in some capacity (full, half or pacer) once I knew the date had been moved up from last year, but over the past few months, I’ve just kept leaning toward the full marathon.

The last two marathons I ran were hilly, and although I really enjoyed the trips and races, I have been aching to run a flat marathon. You can’t get much flatter than Salisbury, and since I live here, I will be training on the exact same type of terrain that I’ll be running on — probably many of the same roads.

There are positives and negatives to running familiar roads, but I’m especially excited to test myself on a flat course. It will also be fun to see people I know along the route and on the course — last year, after returning from another race, I helped at the Eastern Shore Running Club aid station. Last year, our club’s station was at Mile 24 of the full, so that will be something to look forward to if our club is in a similar spot again.

Of course, there’s a monetary factor as well. Since I will be running in my adopted hometown (where I’ve lived since graduating from Salisbury University in 2011), I will not be spending money on a hotel, eating out much more than usual or souvenirs. I’m secretary of the Eastern Shore Running Club, and our club members have discounted pricing for the race, as well. Our club is a partner with the race.

I’m also excited to run a marathon in my city. It should be fun!

After nine marathons, my first marathon is still my fastest. This is something that’s been bugging me. Although I still kind of can’t wrap my head around how I ran a 9:50 pace for 26.2 miles back in 2013, I’m hoping to get back there eventually. I don’t think I will PR at my next marathon, but I’m hoping to move in that direction.

Here are my finish times for the marathons I’ve run, in the order that I’ve run them:

  1. Rehoboth Seashore Marathon (2013): 4:17:45
  2. Rehoboth Seashore Marathon (2014): 4:31:04
  3. Big Sur International Marathon (2015): 5:18:04
  4. Baltimore Marathon (2015): 4:52:36
  5. Shamrock Marathon (2016): 5:03:33
  6. Louisiana Marathon (2017): 4:53:11
  7. Richmond Marathon (2017): 4:47:52
  8. Vermont City Marathon (2018): 5:07:17
  9. Freedom’s Run Marathon (2018): 5:26:34

As you can see, my most recent marathon was my slowest one. However, the hills had a massive impact on my time. I knew the course would be hilly going into it — Freedom’s Run has the kind of course that’s known for its tough hills. There was even a photo backdrop that showed the course elevation.

Although it was my slowest marathon time, I felt great during the run, and I know I put in a strong training cycle. Increasing my mileage gradually, I made it up to a 45-mile week.

The Salisbury Marathon ends in downtown Salisbury. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Before I began my latest 16-week training plan for the Salisbury Marathon, which I started this week, I logged three weeks of at least 30 miles, with the other week just over 27 miles. Last week, I logged 11 miles, but I took off running for three days to fight a cold.

So, for the Salisbury Marathon, I created a training plan for myself in which I’ll start with a 30-mile week and gradually work up to two 50-mile weeks. That amount of running is intimidating to me, but I am looking forward to seeing how quality training can pay off on a flat course. I know there are people who enjoy hills in a race, but I’m not one of them. Completely flat is my favorite type of terrain — and that’s the type of terrain we have where I live.

You may notice from the above times that my two fastest marathon times are from the Rehoboth Seashore Marathon — which is super flat. For someone who doesn’t love hills, I sure have picked a lot of hilly marathons to run.

I am also excited to be the coach for the Salisbury Marathon. I became a Road Runners Club of America Level 1 certified coach this summer — something I’ve been meaning to blog about — and I wrote a beginner plan for people who have been running at least 15 miles a week regularly. The plan starts at 18 miles per week and works up to a high of 33 weekly miles.

To read my beginner plan, my personal plan and plenty of tips, visit the coaching page of the Salisbury Marathon website. I put the personal plan on there in case there are fellow runners out there similar to me, but I am really warning against using the plan for anyone who hasn’t been running at least 30 miles a week regularly. Bumping up mileage too drastically can be dangerous.

I will also be writing a training plan for the half marathon that will be available before the plan starts on Dec. 31.

I have the Salisbury Marathon on my calendar for April 6. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I’m going to set a challenging, yet reasonable, goal for myself. Of course, my eventual goal is to PR in the marathon, but that seems like much too drastic of a goal at this time. What I think is reasonable instead is to shoot for a finish just under 4:45. This is slightly under an 11-minute pace — a time of 4:43:09, according to the Amby Burfoot chart in my RRCA book, is a 10:48/mile pace.

So, here are my time goals:

  • A Goal: Finish the race in under 4:45
  • B Goal: Finish the race in under 5:00
  • C Goal: Finish the race and try not to make it my slowest marathon
  • D Goal: Finish the race

Here are a couple other goals:

  • Feel strong during the race
  • Negative split the race
  • Not have to use a portable toilet during the race (I have during every marathon so far)

Since I really want to improve my speed, I’ve also added tempo and interval work for my personal plan. I have some optional tempo and interval work on the beginner plan, geared toward runners who are a little above the beginner level.

As the coach, I’m planning to check in each Monday on the Salisbury Marathon Group Discussions Facebook group. I will share my progress and also see how others are doing, provide encouragement and answer questions.

It’s going to be a fun (and sometimes demanding) 16 weeks!

Like She Runs by the Seashore on Facebook here.

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