So, here it is. My first ever blog post! I shall regale you with a race recap about the Columbus Marathon, October 16, 2011.
None of my friends could make the trip with me this weekend, so Saturday morning I packed up my car with several running outfits (I still couldn’t decide what to wear), my trusty jar of peanut butter, and my beloved pillow (seriously, hotel pillows are awful; way, way too fluffy for this girl!). I plugged in my ipod and started out into the monsoon that had befallen our city that morning. i figured the rain would let up once I drove a little ways out of the city; I was right, in a way. It did let up by the time I passed Cleveland.
When I finally arrived in C-bus I headed straight for the expo. I picked up my number, browsed for a while, then bought all the mint chocolate Gus I could find, right after telling the girl behind me in line how yummy they were and how she just HAD to try them (sorry, guess I meant you really have to try them another day). I spent the rest of the afternoon checking into the hotel, stuffing myself at Olive Garden, and going to bed at 7:30 p.m. (thank you to my lovely neighbors who had a screaming match at 5am on Saturday, allowing me to be tired enough to fall asleep so early!). I also, thankfully, got to talk to my best friend for a little while. She couldn’t make the trip because she has an upcoming trial this week (she’s an attorney) and I was feeling pretty lonely without her around.
4:30 am came really fast. I woke up Sunday morning with THAT feeling … those mixed emotions of “what am I about to do?/Am I crazy?/I’m so excited/nervous. I decided to wear my shorts, and a tank top, and waffled for a while about the arm warmer issue.
Ready (pretty much) to go!
The race was to start at 7:30, so, my horrible sense of time being what it is, I decided it best to leave the hotel by 5 am. I didn’t want to risk being caught in traffic or getting lost in the city. Neither happened, of course, so I ended up hanging out in my car in the ramp for about an hour. About 6:20 I decided it was time to get in line for the porta potty. Thankfully the wind from the day before had died down. It was a little breezy, but not bad at all.
A little after 7 am I fought the crowds and headed to my corral. I quickly found the pace team leader for the 4:00 pace group. My plan was to hang with them until about mile 25, then take off and finish under 4:00. What really happened was I lost the pace group before we even crossed the start line (is it just me? I needed to be chained to this guy or something!) It was ridiculously crowded in the corral. Some guy actually pushed me out of his way in order to get near the pace group, telling me that was “his” group and he needed to be there. Then he tried to convince me he saw me at a clinic a few weeks ago ….. me telling him I’m not from Columbus didn’t phase him at all. Passing him around mile 24 made my day.
National Anthem sung, wheelchair athletes off (they are amazing!), and then the Statehouse cannon was fired to start the race. It always seems a bit anticlimactic when the gun goes off and you stand there for several minutes ….
I crossed the start line about 3 minutes later and I was off!
What struck me about this race was how fast it seemed to go by. The crowd support was awesome. The volunteers were amazing. Somewhere around mile 4 I saw two guys in Sabres jerseys at the side of the road, so I of course had to cheer for THEM! Before I knew it I was at mile 7, where they were handing out Clif Shot Gels. I tried grabbing one, but the guy was holding it way too high in the air, and it ended up falling to the ground. No big deal, as I was carrying a few of my own, but a minute later I felt a tap on my shoulder – another runner had picked up my gel for me and ran to catch up to give it back! What awesome generosity other runners show each other!
I cruised comfortably through the first half. I am not that great at sensing my pace, so I had my watch set to beep at me every time I went faster than an 8:45/mile. That happened often, and I was feeling good about holding such a strong pace. I had to tell myself several times not to push it too hard the first half (a big part of my problem with my last marathon). The race director made it a point to have a “second start line” after the half marathoners turned off to their finish, and I found that really helpful in fighting that demoralizing feeling you get when you realize THEY get to be done. However, I also felt proud that I was continuing on to do the full 26.2.
Somewhere around mile 17 or 18, my heart soared when I saw an angel holding a bowl of grapes. She saw my happy look and jogged with me for a few feet while I grabbed a handful. Grape Girl – you made my day! I had dropped my other gel (yes, again. Not my day for holding on to things) and some solid food was greatly appreciated!
I was feeling really good and really strong though Mile 22. Then I just don’t know what happened. Maybe I hit The Wall? Though I really felt I had hydrated and taken in enough food (3 gels, gatorade, the grapes). Maybe not? Maybe I was just tired or hadn’t trained enough? I realized then that I probably was not going to break four hours and got really disappointed with myself. It’s something I struggle with a lot in regards to running. I get a number or idea in my head, and just can’t see past it; I can’t think about how I’m running a marathon, or how I ran that marathon a hell of a lot faster than I ran my first one. I could only think I was a failure for not reaching an arbitrary goal. I started to get a little teary. I took a couple short walk breaks. Around mile 24 a stranger on the side of the road spoke specifically to me, calling me by name (on my bib), and I started to feel a little better.
Suddenly, there I was at mile 25. I couldn’t believe how fast the race seemed to go by. I kept chugging along as the crowd of spectators got thicker and thicker. I saw the flag marking mile 26 and gave it all I had. I turned the corner and there it was – the finish line! There is no feeling in this world like seeing the finish line and knowing you have completed something so, so huge. I grinned as I crossed it.
I finished my second marathon with a time of 4:09:13 which is exactly forty minutes faster than my first marathon (4:49:13, Buffalo, May 2011). I went through the 20 mile mark in 3:05, which is ten minutes faster than I ever ran 20 miles in any of my training runs. I was # 592 out of 1,887 females, and # 119/326 in my age group.
I didn’t run negative splits, or break 4:00, but I felt so, so much stronger this time around, and I know I have even more improvement in my future! Next up – Memphis Marathon on December 3! : )