Monday, October 20, 2014

The Columbus Marathon: Race Recap

Well, I was not sure how I was going to feel prior to the race, writing this recap, but I guess all things considered, I have to feel pretty good. I don't want to discount ANYTHING that happened on race day, or anything that happened leading up to it. It was the hardest, longest run of my life, and it was worth every second of it.

So, I am going to skip the expo. That was pretty standard. We got all of our stuff, etc. Karen bought two pair of shoes - which was SMART of her. She is always running out of a shoe and getting sore, etc, so having a few backlogged pair is a good plan. It just makes it easier to roll between shoes when you always have them. I didn't buy anything, but I got my stuff for the next morning.

After we left the expo we headed to Grove City (where our hotel is, about 6 miles from downtown Columbus), dropped our race stuff at the hotel and immediately heading to dinner at Long Horn. There were lots of choices to eat there, so everyone was happy. Chelsa and I both enjoyed a beer, everyone got delicious food (especially Chelsa and I who enjoyed the same pasta dish), and it was just the 4 of us, without the pressure from everyone else. There were tons of runners from our group there with us, but we made the decision to just go eat and not worry about what everyone else was doing, which I am grateful for.

Karen and I shared a room, and we were lucky enough to get a room with a little kitchenette (no idea how we lucked into that) so we got the coffee pot ready for morning, and turned on the football game. Karen took a bath to try and relax and I just laid in bed watching TV in my pajamas. When Karen came to bed about 20 minutes later, we turned out the lights, turned down the volume and slept fitfully all night. We both were tossing and turning, but at the same time, we expected it. We were up before our alarm, which was set for 4:45 am, and started the coffee pot and started getting ready. We both had a goal to poop before we left the hotel. I know that might sound strange if you are NOT a runner, but trust me. Go before.

We left to go downtown at 5:45 am and found the parking garage. We got a pass and having that made all the difference. If you run the Columbus Marathon, I recommend purchasing the reserved parking, that was fantastic. We headed over to the starting area, making a stop in the porta potties and then finding another one from our group in line for gear check. I was checking gear, which I have never done before, to make sure I had my keys and wallet since I was planning on leaving Columbus before Chelsa was done running.
After a few minutes, we decided to head over to the corrals to hang out there and use the bathrooms a few more times. Apparently one of the issues that has happened in the past in Columbus was the lack of toilets, and they more than made up for that. Karen and I were in the A corral, in order to try and hang with the 3:35 pacer, and there was probably 20 toilets that you could ONLY reach in the A corral! So we went right away, then hung out at a heater, went again, and then found Dave and Scott, the guys who were taking us through the streets.
(Don't I look nervous? I SO WAS!)

And soon, we were off! They always play Born to Run when the race starts, and even though I was prepared for it from running the half two years ago, I cried. Music gets me like that. The start and finish were in a different location than they were in previous years, which allowed them to be in the same spot, so I was not familiar with exactly where we were going when we started.

Our first mile was a little bit slow, as expected. There were 18,000 runners, so that could not be helped. We picked things up for the next few miles, banking a bit of time, sometimes I wonder (ok, for the last 10K I wondered) if that was a good or bad thing. We settled into a solid pace around mile 6, and I was feeling great. I started chatting with Dave & Scott, I wanted to know how fast they really ran marathons when they weren't pacing us (super fast), I found out about some of the other runners that were hanging in our group. I was in a fantastic mood, and I bet it showed. I was trying not to do anything stupid like jump or dance though, even though I was tempted, afraid I would pay for that later (yup.)

We crossed the 10K mat at 50:20, pretty much dead on where we wanted to be. We looped back into downtown and then headed out into the German Village and past the Children's Hospital (one of the new parts of the course, since they are the chief beneficiary of the marathon). As we circled past a park, Karen stopped to use the bathroom, and I kept plugging away with the group. She caught up with us quickly, and we headed toward downtown to drop off the half marathon participants right before the 13 mile mark. We past where they turned off to head toward their finish, and I realized I was in this for the whole race.

13.1 time: 1:46:14 - required time per pace band: 1:46:36 at mile 13. So we were a bit ahead at this point. Feeling fantastic, I ventured ahead of the pace group for a bit. I was not super far ahead of them, but when feeling good, I felt like I needed to go for it. Right around mile 14, my left knee started to creak a little bit, and I was tempted to quit. Just for a second though, because by the time I thought about it my knees started to feel better and we plugged onward toward the Ohio State University campus.

We actually ran INTO the Shoe, which was awesome. It gave me the push to keep on running and keep my pace up. There was another mat here, Karen explained that it was to ensure that people didn't cheat and skip that section.
16.3 miles: 2:13:25 - pace bracelet pace at 16: 2:11:12 and 17: 2:19:24, so I would say that I was right in there at this point. After coming out of the stadium my energy was waning and I was starting to feel the pressure of what I was hoping to accomplish. We went up the ramp through the tunnel that the visiting teams go through, and that little uphill took a bit out of me, and around mile 18 the 3:35 pace group passed me. I could see them though, so I knew that I had a chance.

By mile 20, I was 24 seconds off pace and the pace group turned a corner and I lost them. But it was only 24 seconds! And I only had a 10K left! If I could run the 10K in the same pace I ran by first 10K, I had a chance!

Yeah, a few steps further, I realized that was not going to happen. Here came the wall. I took in my final gel (Gu, salted caramel, try it!) and made every single effort to get my legs to turn over. They were going, but they were definitely slowing down, and with each mile that passed I was getting further off goal pace. At mile 23-ish, I saw Andrew, one of the guys in my run group. He cheered for me, and I exhaustedly (I can only assume) waved to him. Then around mile 24 there was a cobblestone section. Seriously, this is my ONLY complaint about the course. I am just trying to stay upright at this point, and trying to watch my feet to make sure I did not trip was tough. I REALLY wanted to start some kind of walk/run at this point. But I was also afraid that I would not start running again if I stopped, so I just kept going even though it was slow.

Mile 25 was my SLOWEST mile of the entire day, clocking at 8:59. Under circumstances of earlier in the summer, I would not have flinched at such a time. After all, my original long run goal pace was 9:14 to hit my sub-4 or bust goal. But at this point I was cursing in my head and at my legs why they would not just GO! (Obviously they had run 25 miles. No wonder they did not want to go!) Karen's mom got this shot of me coming into the finish.
Just trying not to fall down.

And finally, it was over.
Whoa. It may not be that fantastic BQ I had hoped for (semi-secretly until recently), but that is more than 47 minutes off my previous (and only!) marathon time. I cannot help but wonder what could have been, if we had run even splits early instead of a few sub-8 miles, or if somehow my fueling had gone just enough better that I didn't hit the wall. Maybe gels at 4-8-12, etc rather than 5-10-16-21? I don't know, but I will experiment some more for the next race. I will say that at 5 miles was better than at 6 like I did for the Pig 2.5 years ago...

I am proud of this race. I can't NOT be, but it makes me even hungrier.

We are absolutely at BQ-or-BUST So MMGCM? I think?

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