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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The Night Before… My First 1/2 Marathon.

So I said I’d be back in October, but it’s a little later in October than I had hoped.  Life has been kind of trapped in an up and down cycle for awhile.  Here’s the quickest of updates before we start to talk about the good stuff…

The Bad

In the past couple of months two rather emotionally taxing situations arose.  First, there was the unexpected break up from my long time favorite person. All the appropriate words to describe what that feels like just won’t come out, I guess horrible and wasteful and sad generally sum it up.  Shortly after that, my grandmother ended up in the hospital with a broken hip and now has to be in long-term care, a very sudden change in her health situation. She is currently suffering from dementia, which is sad and difficult in many, many ways for her as well as our family.

I don’t really think going any more in depth than that is necessary.  Suffice it to say, enough bad things.  I mean… It feels just like rainbows and sunshine around these parts. As a side note, I highly recommend grabbing Tig Notaro’s “Live.”  It’s $5 via Louis CK’s site. It’s 30 minutes of laughter and perspective.

The Good

:: My new job has continued to go well. It is such a relief to not constantly think or want to say “I hate my job.”  There is so much power in that.

:: I started playing the violin.  I love it.  I have wanted to play for a long time and finally am.  Lessons have been going well, though I must admit that some of the simpler mechanics are hard when trying to put them all together.  I at least don’t sound awful too often.  I just wish I had more time to devote to it.

Violin!

:: School officially started.  I don’t mind the online format at all.  The flexibility is great and I do feel like I’m putting work into it. I am still in somewhat introductory classes because I’ve never done any academic work in business. I will be excited to start getting into more of my focus: human resources.

:: Miscellaneous good things: I have gotten to spend time with family and a lot of time with friends. I’ve seen some people I haven’t in a long time. I got to see some good bands play, caught Bert Kreisher, watched roller derby, etc.  The cats are doing well…

Cat raft

Life on the Cat Raft.

I am probably forgetting a million things. The main attractions in life have been work, school, violin, a little bit of derby, and running.

Oh, yeah… Running!

So my toe was acting up anyway and then I did a dumb thing like drop part of a projection screen on it.  I ended up with pretty bad toe issues, lost most of my toe nail, and had an infection that wouldn’t go away because I waited too long to go to the doctor.  After almost a month of doctor visits, he finally cleared me for the race tomorrow.  I have barely run much of anything over that past month and before that even because I was trying not to make the toe worse.  If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.  At least the peroneal tendonitis went away.

Here we are now, the eve before the Columbus Marathon.  This is a big deal for me.  Last year at this time, I had just had my gallbladder out.  The weekend after the surgery, we were headed to breakfast and ran into the road closures from the marathon. I remember looking out the car window longingly at the running they were doing.  This year, here I am.  It was only a year ago that I started running, when a 5k seemed forever.  Now I’m about to do a lot more than that.

I know I am not well-prepared.  I never got where I wanted to on my long runs in training.  I know I can comfortably do over 7 miles.  I think I can get through the next 3 okay.  At that point, those last 3.1 miles are going to really be something to work for, I think.  I am going in with the mindset that I will be slow and I might have to walk a lot.  This is my first half, so while I have a time goal in mind, it’s a PR regardless of time. No matter what happens, I think I’ve come a long way in a year.

It is already past my bedtime and I haven’t yet gotten everything ready for tomorrow, so I’ll leave it here and pick up post-race.

Here we go…

Race Recap: Jaeger Run for Pride 5k

I am a whole week late in telling you all about my second 5k.  My second 5k that was so blazingly, meltingly hot that I almost didn’t do it.

The instructions for the race were basically “go down to Goodale Park and there it is.”  For those unfamiliar with Goodale Park here in Columbus, it isn’t too hard to get around, but it can be really easy to never find what you’re looking for on weekends like Pride and Comfest when there are a million booths and people everywhere.  There was one Comfest when I completely missed one of the few things I went for because I couldn’t find it.  Maybe I just have a problem finding things.

At any rate, I got to the park super early because I figured parking would be awful (it wasn’t!) and it could take awhile to find the race start (which it did).  I figured I’d start at one end of the park and work my way to the other.  They never published the race route, so no help there.  Since I got there super early and it didn’t take the entire time to find the start, I was glad to run into a friend who hung out with me while I waited.

So the official temperature at 7pm when the race started was 88 degrees.  88 degrees. I have actually never run when it was that hot and for a good portion of the wait debated not doing it.

I did it. Slowly and sweatily.

Despite my firm belief that finishing is the most important part, I still fear being last.  With such a small race (less than 200 participants), I was worried I’d be the slowest, not knowing how my ankle would hold up, etc. Someday I’m going to be last on purpose to get over the fear, but this 5k was not for that. I was pleasantly surprised both by the number of walkers and by the camaraderie that the heat built. By the time I hit the water stop at the halfway point, it seemed like everyone was kind of taking their time. I even had a nice chat with a pregnant race volunteer, who was really encouraging and so impressive to be out in the heat. Another woman and I sort of passed and re-passed each other for most of the last half and that was actually pretty encouraging to stay with it.  The last quarter of a mile was maybe the hardest just because the heat was taking it’s toll and in order to get to the finish, you had to run down the street packed with hot food trucks on both sides.  Worst idea ever.

I finished in 44:09 with a 14:15/mile pace. I missed a PR by about 20 seconds.  I actually consider that a reasonable accomplishment considering the heat, my troubled ankle, etc.

The friend who had met me earlier was also at the finish line.  Pretty awesome of him to hang out and wait for me.  I grabbed my post-run goodies of bananas and water and we sat down in the shade. For a loooong time. Ha.

The good news about the race (besides finishing), is that my ankle wasn’t killing me right after.  It took a couple of days.

Pre-Race Jitters

Tonight is the Jaeger Run for Pride 5k.  It will be my third race.  It doesn’t start for another four hours, yet I find myself nervous already.  I am carefully planning what I will eat before then so as to minimize my stomach getting in on the anxiety act.

It has actually taken a lot for me not to go out earlier today and get a short run in to test my ankle.  I don’t have an appointment with the sports medicine doctor until Thursday and after my last run on Tuesday, I’m glad that I made the call.  I did just fine during my run.  It was just after that my left foot/ankle got upset with me. It is just a 5k (and I did over that on Tuesday), so I’m sure that I will finish it.  I just would prefer to actually run most of it and not walk it.  I would like to believe I will beat my last 5k finish time, but I am doubtful.

So my pre-race jitter solutions: ice the ankle, take a nap, think positively, and eat lightly. Ha.

What do you do before a race to get yourself mentally and physically on track?

Race Recap: Capital City Quarter Marathon

I have talked about doing Cap City since I got the notion in my head to start doing races a couple of months ago. I chose to do the quarter marathon instead of another 5k because I really want to work up to a half marathon (Columbus Marathon half, here I come… hopefully).  After doing the 6.55 miles, I can tell you: that length is a great one. Not too short, not too long.

Prior to the race, of course, my training got terribly interrupted.  My ankle has continued to give me problems and then there was the disc re-flare. So I never actually got up to 6.55 miles in training.  The farthest I’d gone before then was 5 miles and that was before the back problems. So leading up to the race, I was averaging about 7 miles a week and putting in 3-4 miles a run.  Not ideal training.  If I had to walk a lot of it, I was going to do so, but I was going to finish it one way or the other.

The race was Saturday, so I hit the race expo and packet pick-up the night before.  I was already getting excited when I saw people walking around downtown with their Cap City bags of goods.  While at the expo, I found the CEP ankle support that I’ve wanted since February.  My ankle has been swelling after work and that day was no exception, so I wore it for part of the evening. It was great! I decided that I’d wear it for the race as well.

My checklist for race day.

As you can see from the timestamp on my little checklist here, I was up way past my bedtime. I knew that with all my anxiety about the race, I would never remember everything. Luckily, thanks to the list, I woke up, ate breakfast, and was out the door (mostly) on time. Somehow, I made it downtown, found parking, and got to the start with time to spare.  That time, of course, was spent standing in the middle of Broad St, talking to a half-marathoner, while waiting for the bathrooms.  I do love how fellow racers are always so friendly.  We’re all in it together, I guess!

Cap City Bib

That’s me!

After the bathroom break, I headed to my corral. I was surprisingly not assigned to the last one, though I probably should have been in it. Commence waiting… and waiting…

13,000

Cap City = 13,000 strong.

There were 13,000 people in the race. Most of them were ahead of me… More waiting…

And then!!! Finally…

Starting Line!

Ah! The starting line! Where I immediately went out too fast. And when I say fast, I really mean fast.  If RunKeeper is to be believed, it was about 3-4 minutes faster than my normal pace. By the first turn, I was walking. By the first mile, I had walked more than run trying to get rid of the stitch in my side.  Somewhere around 1.5, I got my groove.  I had set RunKeeper for 4/1:30 run/walk. I didn’t follow it the whole time, but it was handy to have some guidance. I knew that if I was going to finish, I was going to need to be vigilant about not overexerting myself.

A lot of the race is a blur of focus on moving forward. The half marathon route and the quarter marathon route were together at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end. It was kind of nice to run down Vine seeing all those half runners going down High St, though I felt slow and awkward in comparison.  I tended to stay toward the sides so that I would hopefully stay out of the way of faster people who were not as prone to walking.  If I had to guess, I’d say I did about half and half running and walking. The mile splits aren’t especially pretty and show how tough it got at the end. I was happy to see a friend of mine along the route between miles 4 and 5.  I didn’t feel so great at that point, but seeing her definitely helped get me going again.

beating myself, at least. I finished with a 1:35:53. It was not the time that I wanted, but check out all these great things that RunKeeper said about me. Ha.

It was rough, but I’m glad that I did it. Really, really glad. I can’t say that I got teary after this one like I did my first race (because who would have thought!!), but I was really proud of myself. A year ago, I never would have thought I’d complete a quarter marathon. In fact, a year ago, I was cursing the runners for messing up traffic patterns! Yet there I was. I’d done it.

The high after finishing was out of control.  What was also out of control was how hungry I was.  Thank goodness for all the awesome stuff at the finish line like bagels, bananas, and chocolate milk.  I gulped down most of it and completely neglected how thirsty I was. Definitely needed more hydration pre-race.  Note for next time.

All in all, I have to say this race was a great experience. I learned a whole, whole lot about racing and recovery. I also came away feeling like I can do anything. Ha! If I can do a quarter marathon with a bum ankle and a herniated disc, I think that says something about my perseverance. I’m glad for that.

Cap City Finisher Medal

Finishers finish!

Onto the next races!! If I can get my ankle up to snuff, I have plans for two 5ks in the next 2 months. Still hoping for the half in October. Can’t wait!

Automattic’s WWWP5k

I have LOTS of things to catch up on around here, but I wanted to write a quick post about my participation in Automattic’s Worldwide WP 5k on the 27th.  I love the idea of participating in these types of virtual little races.  They don’t cost anything, you compete with yourself, and yet you’re still part of something bigger.

My RunKeeper page for it is here.  The run itself was one of the best ones I’ve had recently.  I felt like I was getting my ankle under control.  I also felt much improved performance-wise.  I mean, the run itself was pretty slow.  I am still transitioning back and speed is not what I’m after right now.  Slow and steady and form-focused is going to win the race against injury.

For some reason, I have to say that this day out was especially nice because it was one of those runs where I just felt appreciative to be out.  It was such a perfect day weather and temperature-wise.  I am a sucker for clear, sunny days with a nice breeze.  I thought about all of the things that I never would have noticed about my extended neighborhood if I hadn’t started running.  There are great houses around with lots of nice flowers, a few parks hidden away here and there.  I like to run by the houses of people who have smiled and said hello to me as I’ve run.  I’ve had some creepy interactions on a few days, so I like to remember the not-so-creepy people who greet me with a smile and a wave as I go by.  I run by their house and think nice thoughts. Who knows if that actually helps anyone out, but it certainly can’t hurt.

I did go a little over the 5k distance.  I felt so good that day that I wouldn’t have minded going even further, but I had to wrap it up. Afterwards, stretching and foam rolling and recovery were all great.  It was just such a good overall run.

Unfortunately, my next run after that wasn’t quite the same, so looking back on this one makes me really happy.

There you have it.  My Automattic WWWP5k: 3.34 miles all by my lonesome on a variation of my regular route. I think I’ll definitely participate in more races like this one. Just putting that little spin on my run helped make it a better experience.