Columbus Race Report 10/16/2005

This was my anniversary race; my first marathon was Columbus last year. As I prepared for the race, I marveled at how much had changed since last year. For one thing, I had not specifically trained for this race. My goal race was last weekend, the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, PA. But the idea of running “two marathons in two weeks” had come up sometime this summer, and when circumstances arose that I was offered free race entry, I decided to go for it.

I stayed off my feet for much of the week between races, hitting the exercice bike on Thurs and then running an easy 4 on Friday. Another thing that made this marathon different from others I’ve done was that I didn’t have an aggressive time goal; I PRed in Steamtown, and this race was just to finish. I didn’t want to push myself too hard. I also had an easy out; I live on the course, around the 15 mile marker. If things weren’t going well, I could stop.

That being said, I decided I didn’t want to set a “personal worst” so I set my goal at the seemingly random 3:57:42 (a second faster than I ran Boston). This was a full minute per mile slower than last weekend. As it got closer to the race, I worried that I might push myself too hard, so I told myself to be sure to start around the 4 hr runners and stay with them for the first half, then gauge how I was doing from there.

The night before the race, I made myself a shirt that said “2 Marathons in 2 Weeks – Steamtown 10/09/2005 Columbus 10/16/2005 – Where Am I????”. I didn’t have any plans to run with anyone, so I hoped this would at least spark up some conversation.

My neighbour was also running, so he knocked on my door at 7:30 and we jog/walked down to the start. It was a bit chilly, but it seemed the weather would be great for racing. Because I didn’t have an aggressive goal set, I felt quite different than I have at any other race. I wasn’t as nervous, but I definitely found myself getting more emotional. I drank in the excitement of the crowd, smiled broadly at the enthusiasm of the first timers and spouses, parents and children of the runners. It wasn’t about me this time, so I celebrated their exciting moments. I took my last potty break a minute or so before the start time, not worrying about missing the gun since it was a chip-timed race anyway.

Shall I spare you the suspense? Here are my splits:

1 09:35
2 09:15
3 08:33
4 08:53
5 08:42
6 to 10.. 35:20
10 08:52
11 08:59
12 09:05
13 08:53
14 09:06
15 09:05
16 09:12
17 09:20
18 09:11
19 09:26
20 09:15
21 08:59
22 09:05
23 09:11
24 09:24
25 09:11
26.2 10:29

Goal: <3:57:43
Time: 3:57:12

I felt strong through the race; it’s not accurately reflected in my splits. That’s because I wasn’t just running my race, I was running a new friend to a 16 min PR!

I started out on my own, and I’ll be honest, I was bored stiff. Around mile 3, a girl came up next to me and commented on my shirt; she’d run 2 back to back marathons last fall. We started chatting. She was doing her first marathon, wanting to break 4 hrs. Well that fit well with my goal, so we ran the rest of the race together. Too much talking is what caused me to miss all those mile markers early on!

It was great to have someone to run with; I told her that my two best marathons were run with people, my two worst were on my own. Sure enough, the miles seemed to really tick by as we ran. She was from out of town but her family lives here, so she had a lot of support along the course, and I was still able to offer her the local’s commentary. ?

My legs felt a little stiff today, particularly around 16/17, but nothing too bad. There was never a moment’s thought of quitting, and by mid-course I knew I would be registering for Detroit.

Today’s weather was absolutely gorgeous. As Sarah and I ran, we discussed how fortunate we were to be out here, to be able to do what we were doing.

Around mile 20 or so, I could feel Sarah starting to lag a little. She was a trooper though, and never said anything about slowing up. When we got to mile markers she’d ask how we were doing pace-wise, and she did say she would be glad to be done, but overall she seemed to be holding strong. She had her name on her shirt, so she got tons of cheers and encouragement, and it was actually in the last 4 miles that SHE started cheering back at people! It was great, I was excited FOR her (her PR had been 4:12, she was going to blow this out of the water!) We did start to walk at water stops in the last few miles, but I don’t think it was out of exhaustion but rather comfort (I still don’t like drinking on the run!)

I was enjoying the race, slapping hands with kids and thanking spectators for being there. It almost backfired on me, however. Around mile 21, there was a little boy on the sidewalk holding out his hand. As I ran by, I tried to reach out to high-five him. I don’t know if my foot went up on the curb or what, but all of a sudden I found myself careening forward, my arms waving madly as I tried to get my footing. I think my face was perhaps two feet from the ground before I righted myself and kept going. Everyone around me was asking if I was ok. All I could think about was how frustrated I would be to wipe out at mile 21 and have to drop out. I didn’t slap any more kids hands, but I was encouraged that my coordination was still good at this point.

As we made the last turn to Goodale, we saw the 4:00 pace group in front of us (oh, I forgot to mention, they were a good five minutes fast for much of the course). I asked Sarah if she wanted to take it. She was smart and said she wanted to work up to it. Sure enough, we passed them right before the last turn, and she said “ok pace leader, bring us in!” To which he replied “you have 5.5 minutes to run a quarter mile. Go for it!” We made the last turn to the downhill leading to the finish, and I told Sarah I just had to see who all I could pass. So I took off, and it was great to fly past a bunch of people in that final stretch. I crossed the line, and looked around for my new friend. We congratulated each other, thanked each other for making the race better, and went our separate ways. She’ll be doing the Goofy Challenge in January as well, perhaps our paths will cross again!

Got my medal from my friend Andrea, who ran Chicago last year. Met with Doug, grabbed a bagel and some water, and headed home. I felt good, not particularly sore, or tired, or thirsty. Later I checked the race results, and was surprised to see that Sarah had done even better than I thought; she’d passed the start line 30 seconds behind me, so she’d actually beaten me! Good for her, though.

I had a really good time. It was nice to see Andy, Rich, Jen, Meredith, Mike, Bridget, Natalie, Jen, Sabrina and Crystal on the course supporting me. It was a different race than I usually run, and I think it was just what I needed! On the way back to my apartment I walked the race course, and shouted encouragement to the racers, well, when I could. Too often I found my throat close as I cheered for them. I’m such a sap.

I really love this running stuff.

"We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon."
– Emil Zatopek