Race Recap: Columbus Marathon

I had this recap completely finished except for editing when WordPress ate the post. So much for automatic draft saving.

Thinking back, I am not entirely sure when I started to really consider the half at the Columbus Marathon.  I believe it was probably around finishing my first 5k. It seems so alien now that 5k seemed like such a big deal only nine months ago. Of course, finishing the quarter marathon at Cap City also seemed like a big deal. Why not double the distance with the half?

Before registering, I had been having ankle problems for months.  It wasn’t until June that I discovered I had peroneal tendinitis. Luckily, with a little patience and some KT Tape, that seems to be under control.  Not long after that, I started having toe problems. Then, I dropped part of a projection screen on my toe.  I thought it was entirely possible it was broken after that.  Thankfully, it wasn’t broken, just busted up and infected.  It took a few weeks of doctor’s appointments to get it under control and only a week ago did he say that the half wasn’t a bad idea.

Here’s my big training confession: I never ran more than 7.04 miles before the half. I did that a month before the race.  In the final weeks leading up the race, I ran only about eight miles total. I was not at all prepared for the 13.1 miles ahead.  I was unsure about whether I would even be able to finish it.  If I did finish, I didn’t know what shape I’d be in.  I kept picturing the horror stories of people with their legs giving out, dragging themselves across the finish line.  I stood at the race expo on Saturday negotiating with myself that if I bought anything that said “Columbus Marathon” on it, I had to finish.

So I did.

Race morning, I woke up at 3am with a headache (strike 1) and a bitey, demanding cat (strike 2).  Despite getting everything together the night before and knowing that I was going to go out there and give it a shot, it still took a lot to get out of bed.  Luckily, at 5am, a dear friend sent me some great motivational texts. Exactly what I needed.  Actually, the whole day was filled with encouragement right when I needed it most.

Fast forward through traffic and parking… I checked my gear bag, grabbed the gloves they were giving away because I was freezing, and started the long wait.

Welcome to the Half.

Welcome to the half.

Looking at this picture again, I can’t help but think about how much I love Columbus.  I’m so grateful that I have had the chance to run its streets and see it from a perspective I never would have otherwise.  Thanks, awesome city of mine.

Anyway.

I was in the last corral (where I belonged), which ran along High St with a few others.  The first couple of corrals went up Broad.  I heard almost nothing of the pre-race festivities.  I only knew the mayor was there when I went past him on the way to the start. I saw a little bit of the fireworks, got scared to death when the cannon went off, and finally crossed the start at 7:50am, twenty minutes after the gun. Or cannon, in this case.

My toes were numb for awhile in, but I felt great for the first few miles.  I didn’t go out too fast, but paced myself pretty well.  I stuck to my ten minute run/one minute walk ratio for a good portion of the first half.  Something nice about being slower was cheering on the leaders who were coming down Broad St in the opposite direction.  I got to see a friend of mine and cheer her on while she was working for that Boston Marathon qualifier (which she got! Yay!).

Bexley was great to run through.  All along the course, at each mile marker, there was a different “Children’s champion” from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital that the race benefits.  Some of the kids were actually out, which was awesome to see.  I had read through a lot of their stories the night before and champions they are, indeed.

The first half went pretty well.  I hit the 10k mark feeling like I was in reasonably good shape.  Right after that, a friend appeared off in the distance with a sign…

Do it for the Kittens

I gave her a sweaty hug, heard “I’m proud of you” and ran off thinking “She’s right. I am doing it for the kittens!” Ha. I loved it so much.  She was the best thing to see at the halfway point.

After that, things started going downhill.  As predicted, the first 7 or 8 miles were fine. I started to slow down, but they were fine.  Around 8.5-9, I hit the wall. When you come back down Broad St to turn onto 3rd, you can see the runners on High, who are just down the street from Nationwide and the finish. This was really hard mentally because there was so much more of the race left to go for me.  German Village was a blur of knowing I was too far along to quit, but not feeling strong about finishing. Prior to the race, my game plan was to break it down into 5ks.  I’d run 5k plenty of times, so of course I could run a series of 5ks. I ended up walking a lot of the last 3-4 miles and I spent most of that time in my head.  I think that was part of the problem.  I was too consumed with thinking about what was going on, not just running.

Around mile 12 or so, I caught sight of another familiar face.  It was a glorious present from the running gods. I was so defeated with all the walking and the slowness, but there was another friend! I got a big hug, some water, and the motivation to keep going.  I started to mentally make a new plan called “Finish Strong.” I started to run a little bit more than walk, but still save my energy for the finish.

Then there it was.  Actually, not yet. Because the finish goes downhill on Nationwide, you have to first go uphill to get there.  It’s not a big hill, but it does seem looming when you’re in it and thisclose to the end. Finally! I turned the corner onto Nationwide Blvd and was met with a band, lots of people, and that great downhill finish.  I saw the race director on my way and almost stopped to hug him in gratitude. I didn’t, of course, because THE FINISH LINE WAS RIGHT THERE!

Columbus Marathon finish

Sort of in the middle on the way down to the finish line.

My official time was 3:17:35. I wanted it to be under 3 hours, but I finished. I really finished.  13.1 miles completed!  I can still barely believe it.

Post race, I grabbed almost every liquid or food item handed to me in the finish chute. I keep saying it, but it’s true: more races need a food bag.  Seriously: food bag. I started eating and stretching immediately.  The last cruel joke of the race was that the gear check was up a flight of stairs.  Luckily, there was a wonderful little girl who greeted me after that terrible experience and brought me my bag full of post-race goodies: fresh shirt, compression socks, almond butter. All the necessities.

I would tell you about my post-race Ice Bath of Doom or how I ate wonderful things all day after the race, but I’ve already been long-winded enough.  I will say that the race was Sunday, today is Wednesday, and I haven’t stopped thinking about running despite legs so sore that I wasn’t walking right for the first day afterward. Maybe this running thing really does make you crazy.

One last picture…

Do it for the medal.

Inspire.

I’ve gotten a couple of medals this year for the races I’ve done and I love them.  But this one… This one, I’m really proud of.  I somehow blew away all my own expectations of myself and did something I would have never thought in a million years that I’d do.  It feels incredible.

Thank you to all of my friends for their words of encouragement before, during, and after the race. I even thank you for the scary clown pictures. Ha. You’re amazing.  Extra special thanks to the person who helped get me started running in the first place… Life wouldn’t be the same.

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