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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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.

Miscellaneous Links: Princess Half, etc.

I will admit something… I’ve been a little obsessed with race recaps.  I spent a lot of last week reading recaps of the Disney Princess Half-Marathon weekend. It has only made me want to do the half next year even more.  Here are those and some other things I’ve been reading.

Race recaps for the Disney Princess Half-Marathon weekend:

@ Running Tall
@ Go the Xtra Mile
@ Meals and Miles
@ Losing Weight in the City
Things You May Not Know About Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend :: lots of interesting tidbits!

As Jeff Galloway is the coach for runDisney, I decided to start poking around on his site.  He believes in run-walk-run, which is what I do on every run.  I think it’s a really good way to go, especially for beginners. Speaking of walking, I found this blog post that I thought was good for all to read: A Dirty Little Secret about Running.  While I already knew what the blog said, it still made me feel better about my chosen method of running.

Miscellaneous other things:
Planks: Beginning to Intermediate :: as part of physical therapy, I have had to do planks.  I have also been doing plank stability ball walk-outs, which are hard but fun.
Your Essential Guide to Yoga :: I’ve had a couple of people talk to me about yoga since I started, so here is a little something for those people.

@FitFluential on Twitter :: I’ve found a lot (if not all) of these links via FitFluential.  It’s been an awesome resource since I found it.

 

With that, I am off for today’s run.  Hoping for 5 strong miles.

Mission Accomplished: 5k!

running apps

That lovely badge can now proudly be displayed as my own!  That’s right.  As of Saturday, I officially completed my very first 5k race.  My goal for so many months has finally been realized. 5k doesn’t seem like a lot.  It’s a mere 3.1 miles after all.  For someone who barely ran five seconds before this past fall, I’d say that’s something.

As I mentioned previously, the Royal Family 5k was my chosen first race.  It’s part of the Disney Princess Half-Marathon weekend which was filled with 20,000 women. Or princesses, I guess?  I figured that it was a good way to see my parents (who happen to live close to Orlando) and who wouldn’t want their first race to be at Disney?  Lucky for me, my boyfriend R, decided to come along for fun and running.

We arrived the day before the weekend’s expo and packet pick up started on Friday. The expo was held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.  I was nervous and the only thing about the expo that made me any less nervous was my sudden search for compression socks.  I was having problems with one of my ankles and thought those might help.  I didn’t really want to be in the middle of the race and start having problems.  I ended up with some Sigvaris athletic recovery socks, which I’ll talk about at some other time, but which seem to be very helpful!

After getting our packets and expo-ing, R and I did some Disney-related activity.  We ended up at Epcot, walking around what would end up being part of our race route.  This was also R’s first race and so it was nice for both of us to see what we were getting into.  Not that there was much chance of backing out.  We headed to bed early that night in order to be ready for our very early morning.  My mom was nice enough to be our race transportation and she was going to arrive bright and early at 5:30am.

pre-race

So nervous!

There’s me.  We arrived at Epcot before our 6:15am race-call time.  The race wasn’t supposed to start until 7am, so we had plenty of time to drink water, check out the other racers wearing costumes (lots of tutus and tiaras!), and listen to the DJ they had going.  Jeff Galloway was there and spoke a little.  Before we knew it, though, it was time to get into the corrals. There were several corrals based on pace and I was aiming for the last one before the walker/stroller/wheelchair corral, but because the “chute” itself was not wide enough and the 5000 or so people that were there were having a hard time getting into it, we ended up amongst the strollers.  When the fireworks(!!) went off signaling the race start, it was a very slow procession toward the starting line.

starting line

Start!

Once we made it to the starting line and were off, we had to maneuver behind the people walking and all those strollers.  This wasn’t altogether bad since I like to start out my runs with a nice walk to warm up, but it eventually became a problem. For some reason, I hadn’t really thought about my plan of action for getting around people.  I had concentrated so much on being physically prepared for the race that I didn’t think too much about the technicalities. As I started to actually run, I found myself outside of the path a lot of the time, trying to avoid the people walking.  The race was a bit of an obstacle course all the way through.  So many people, so many different speeds.  Sometimes it worked out in my favor and I would get behind a slower group that gave me an excuse to walk a little bit.

There were lots of awesome things about the course…

Characters

There were different Disney characters waiting at different points.

I realized pretty quickly a few of my fears were unnecessary.  For one, I was not going to be finishing last.  Secondly, despite posting a pacing requirement, it definitely was not enforced at any time that I could see (I know this is not true for the 1/2 marathon the next day since they had closed roads, etc for that).  In fact, there were people lined up wherever there were characters. Mickey and Minnie were there, Belle and the Beast, Pocahontas, some others I can’t recall.  There were also lots and lots of Disney staff cheering the runners on!  Everywhere you looked, there was another one saying “Yeah! You’re doing great!” or ringing a cowbell or clapping, high-fiving, or waving as we ran by. While I don’t carry water with me on my runs, the two water stops along the route were nice.

Eye on the prize: finish was past the globe.

So close!

Time went by so quickly.  Before I knew it, I was running under that giant “golf ball” and headed toward the finish.  I have to admit that all throughout the race I was getting pretty emotional on and off.  Here I was! I was really doing it! After all that anticipation and training, I was reaching my goal!  I held it together most of the way through, but then I saw my mom waiting near the finish line and almost lost it.  I was so grateful that she was there.  I powered through and crossed my first ever finish line at about 43:50 with a 14:03 pace.  The fact that I did it under 45 minutes was more than I could have hoped for, but had secretly wished was possible.

Finishing is winning.

I didn’t finish fast.  But I finished.  And set a personal record (that I get to beat next time).  Talk about a runner’s high!

R wasn’t too far behind me in finishing his own first 5k.  It was awesome to get to do the race together, even if we weren’t side by side the whole time. We got our medals, got our picture taken, and grabbed our recovery goodies before meeting up with my mom again.  After hugging her, I promptly started to cry. Just a little. 3.1 miles isn’t a very long, but the road to get there was. 30 years long, technically.  I’m so glad that R was there to race with me and my mom was there for support.

I couldn’t have asked for a better first 5k experience.  The race itself was easy going and full of fun.  The course was great. For those interested, here’s the map…

The red is me. The green is what Runkeeper thought was the route.

Also, here is a video I found of the 5k.  The “virtual host” shows you a bit of the race route, etc.

I am already finding other races that I want to be a part of and gearing up for a longer distance next time.  Hopefully, I will find myself a little faster and with another PR.  Can’t stop with those goals!

Running! Update!

My last few posts have been lacking a certain… something… Like running!  Lots of excitement there!

My birthday was the 19th and, as promised, I registered for my first 5k.  Lucky for me, the boyfriend agreed to run with me!  So Royal Family 5k, here we come!  I am really just beyond excited.  Now, if I could just get that pesky sister to come, too…

In light of being officially registered for the race, I got back onto the Couch-to-5k train.  I am almost done with week 5 and I am only doing it when I am running indoors on a treadmill.  I am still having some serious trouble pacing myself outdoors.  I have also been having some trouble with my asthma as well with the air getting colder.  I am going to see if breathing through something like a neck gaiter will help me since the air will be warmer that way.  I’m also going to start just using my rescue inhaler before a work-out, as is often directed for people with exercise-induced asthma. I use my maintenance inhaler every morning, but maybe that’s not enough as it gets colder.

Last week, I had the pleasure of running with different people, something I haven’t done before.  On Tuesday, I went out to a park with my friend.  He helped me on my running form and breathing techniques.  It was really eye-opening just to run with someone else who was paying attention. I felt bad as I am still slow and still walk often during runs, so he wasn’t getting much of a work out, but I benefited a lot from it.  After that, on Thanksgiving day, my stepbrother, his girlfriend, and I went out for a quick go around my sister’s neighborhood.  My stepbrother had us doing fun things like sprints and skips, etc.

I am trying to work on things two-fold.  I want increased distance and increased steady running time.  They will both come together, but I know I have done more distance when breaking up my run with walks. One way or another, I just have to keep progressing so that 5k is in the bag by February.  Even if I don’t get as far as I want, I still have to say that I am learning nothing feels better than getting out there and running.  I don’t always feel like it, but once I get going, I always feel better after.

The Long Road to 5k: The First Race Decision

I want this little badge of honor to be mine.

It’s why I’m doing Couch-to-5k to begin with, right?  A 5k is the goal.  When I first started, I think just finishing the program was my goal.  I had been dealing with my back injury for so long and was so discouraged about my lifting progress, I needed something new.  So far, running (or the equivalent to it that I am currently doing) has opened up a lot of new fascinating things, whole worlds that I never thought I’d have any interest in.  I still have a very long way to go with C25k and a whole lot more to learn, but I’m on the right track.  Now my eyes are on the next prize: my first race.

I stumbled upon the Royal Family 5k via Runner’s World (my new small obsession).  Running through Epcot? You can really do that? Sign me up! I couldn’t think of a better first race. Epcot is one of my favorite Disney parks, plus I could go and see my parents in Florida.  It’s a win-win.  My mom gets to watch me race and my reward will be her famous chicken casserole. It all makes sense.

So I decided that this should be my first race about a week ago.  Since then, I keep staring at the race page, daring myself to go ahead and register. My mom expressed some concerns about having surgery in October and racing February.  The doctor said I could get back to working out 2 weeks from surgery if everything went well. I expect that there will be some catch-up on my training, but I’m sure that if you asked me to do a 5k today I could finish.  I can walk at least as fast as the 16min/mile requirement (It must be a real race! It has a real requirement!), so even if I’m slow or have to walk part of it, I can do this.  But I don’t want to walk it.

I want to run it.