Okay - you have to understand the history here. Every time I get all amped up for a race, something horrible (and often really bizarre) happens to foil my hard training and best laid plans. Let's look at the history:
The first time I was all psyched up for the Bolder Boulder, a computer tipped over at work and took all the skin off my left achilles tendon region.
The year I was all trained up for Uwharrie and feeling awesomely fast, I tripped over a speedbump (yes, seriously) and took all the skin off my knee (to the point where we were down to fascia) and was out of running for several weeks (apparently you need an intact knee to run and repeated bending/extending inhibits healing). The second time I was all fast and stuff for the Bolder Boulder, I caught a terrible tuberculosis-like cold and hacked my way to a 50+ minute finish. I spent a night in the LaGuardia airport due to thunderstorms that prevented me from getting to a race in Vermont. I developed a massive IT-band inflammation issue DURING THE RACE my first time trying to qualify for Boston (no warning - no hints that this might be an issue leading up to the race... just BLAM right there in the race). The list goes on.
On the flip side, every time I enter a race totally unprepared and decide to just wing it, things turn out well. I got 2nd once at the Uwharrie 20. I managed to get 3rd in the 40 the first year I ran it (just hoping to finish). Got second in my age group at the Triple Lakes 40 after training 2 days/week with one back-to-back long run and maybe 2 runs over 20 miles. My Bolder Boulder PR is from a year where I hashed twice in the days leading up to the event and had every intention of stopping at the beer break at mile 4. I'm not saying I was totally unprepared for all these races - just that I didn't go through all the meticulous preparations I 'should' have.
So you can see why I've become very gun-shy about 'properly preparing' for races. Which is great because it means I don't ever - actually, scratch that - I CAN'T ever get all amped up/stressed out for a race and just get to stick with my usual goofy training schedule.
SO fast-forward to sometime this summer when I discover that everyone I know (okay - maybe a bit of an overstatement, but not as dramatic as you might think) is running Boston this year. Well crap. I had always said I would give it another shot, half because it's one of those bucket list things you just have to do and half because I was tired of explaining to people that yes, I probably could qualify, but I haven't run a road marathon since 2006 because prefer to stick to the trails and ultras (I know - arrogant). So I began casually looking for races that might fit with my teaching schedule that might be flat-ish and might not be 100 degrees and humid on race day. I identified a couple of possibilities and then rejected them as I had waited too long to start kind-of sort-of training (bumping the long runs on Sat) and it was still $%#@#%% 95 degrees here and humid, which made training sucky all around.
Enter Brad Smythe. Anyone who knows Brad knows that he a) will run anything and b) will make it sound fun enough to entice you to run it with him. I am somewhat immune to the powers of the Smythes (no, I will not run 35 miles from Raleigh to Carrboro on a work day on the sidewalk with you), but only somewhat (yeah... Hinson lake DOES sound like fun after all... where do I sign up for next year?). Ronnie, however, is completely susceptible. I believe the conversation went something like this. Brad: "Yeah... my dad's doing his 50th state at Des Moines this year..."
Ronnie: "I went to school in Iowa. Where do I sign up?"
Brad: "My whole family is going to try to come out and run with him"
Ronnie: "Perfect. I fit in well with all families - people love me. Now we just have to figure out how to make this sound like a good idea to Karen"
.....several hours later....
Ronnie: "Hey Karen - remember how I went to school in Iowa?"
Karen: "How could I forget? Why?"
Ronnie: "It's very flat there."
Karen: "What has Brad convinced you to do now?"
I won't bore you with all the details of that conversation (because they are undoubtedly going to become even less accurate), but suffice to say he played upon my inkling that I should perhaps maybe try to kinda qualify this year and the fact that the Iowa race was the day before registration opened, and it was sure to close out fast this year. So we registered and started maybe kinda training (increase length of long run).