With eight marathons and nearly 30 half marathons under my belt, running has allowed me the chance to explore new cities and destinations. However, as I've become more attuned to what my body can handle over the years, I've found that I recover and perform better if I stick to running just one full marathon a year. For the last four years, that's ended up being my hometown race, the Chevron Houston Marathon, which I'll be running for the sixth time this January.
There are a few reasons why Houston is always an easy choice for me—it's a fast and flat course, it's incredibly well organized and supported and its winter race date means I can avoid running my highest training volume in the dead of Houston's ridiculously hot and humid summers. But the winning points don't stop there.
Here are six other reasons why it's a great idea to target your 26.2 close to home and save the travel for the shorter races.
It's a great way to show pride for your city
Although I was born and raised here in Houston, I spent about 10 years away before moving back in 2011. The marathon course goes through quite a few streets in my childhood neighborhood and running those blocks reminds me of everything I've been through and how much I've accomplished since those years. After surviving Hurricane Harvey, many Houstonians can agree that the Houston Marathon will be special for the whole city this year.
You'll save a lot of money by not traveling
Much like traveling over a holiday weekend, flight and hotel prices are often jacked up for big events like a marathon. Between that and your race entry fee, as well as all the dining out that come with traveling, the total expenses related to your race weekend will pile up very quickly. You'll cut out a lot of that by staying close to home, which means you can feel less guilty about rewarding yourself in some shape or form after your race.
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You can help your city reap some of the economic benefits
You may not be spending anything in the way of travel and accommodation costs, but you'll surely indulge in a post-race meal and beverage (or two) with your training buddies and family members that come out to support you.
You can train on the race course
My local running club usually plans for the group's longest training run (22 miles total) to go through miles three through 20 of the Houston Marathon course, and one of my favorite close-to-home running routes covers about four miles of the race course as well. Familiarizing yourself with some of the miles you'll run on race day can do wonders for your mental game and will leave you feeling extra prepared for the terrain, hills and any other potential race day challenges.
It can make for a less stressful weekend