Looking for opinions

I’m trying to decide between two races for the fall of 2013–both are in Europe and half-marathons.  There’s Brussels on 10/6 and Amsterdam on 10/20.

Brussels is a smaller race. Amsterdam is huge. Brussels is slightly hilly.  Amsterdam’s not. The cost of participating is about equal, and flights to either city will cost about the same.  Moreover, whichever city’s race I choose to run, I know I can easily catch a train to visit the other city while on my trip.

Brussels appeals because of the date. I could race on 10/6 and travel the week afterwards, and still be home in time for the RTB NJ relay on 10/18-19.  Amsterdam appeals because of the course and size and the wealth of things to do in the city before and after the race.

Here’s what scares me (albeit slightly): when I looked at previous years’ results, I was so surprised–EVERYONE IS SO FAST!  The bulk of the HM runners finished in less than two hours.  Which is such a reach (right now) for me.  Should I let that influence my plans?  And why?  Why are European runners so fast? Or do the tortoises of Europe just not race?

In my very long car ride from NJ to Maine today, I came to the conclusion that whichever race I do choose, that race would be my focus race for 2013–the race I use my as yet untested training plan to set a PB and try to meet an A goal of 2:00-2:05.  Which would require really healing my hamstring and left ankle.  Which left me a little bit excited, but also a little bit scared.  but more excited.

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