Friday, November 2, 2007

Columbus Marathon Race Report

Thank goodness that is over with!! Marla and I were pacing all morning long as we hadn't had the big action before heading to the start line. I was nervous because I knew I needed to go. We accidently ran into Sherrie and her friend Sara, while waiting inside a building to get out of the cool breezy air of the morning. Out of all the runners there we happened to run into people we knew them and I thought that was neat. We left the buidling and went to the bathroom, which was about 20 minutes before the race started. I was finally able to have the right action I was looking for. I stepped out of the port a potty and realized I cut in front of the line. Both Marla and I did that. We don't know how it happened but it worked, since I went to the bathrroom.

The start of the marathon had perfect running conditions. It was in the low 50’s with crisp cool air. I just had my shorts and a t-shirt on and my arms and legs were cold but I knew I would warm up fast. As the start neared I lined up with Michelle, the 5 hour Clif Bar Pacer. The start had a couple of highlights – a flyover by three army Blackhawk helicopters and some great festive music. Throughout the course the live bands were great to provide extra motivation. Then the horn blew and the marathon was off.

The miles passed quickly. I was feeling great. Water stops were very frequent in the beginning of the race. I think it had to do with the larger than normal field with the increase of the half marathoners. We were running on wide, fall colored tree-lined streets of the Bexley neigherhood. The shade it provided was heaven. This neighborhood has beautiful big houses and the governer lives near mile 5. There was one section in this neighborhood that had a crumbling brick road were you had to really watch your footing, which I didn’t like. It was somewhere in this area I saw Marla and the 5 hour pacer passed her by. We chatted for a few seconds and wished each other luck again and to see each back at the hotel. This neighborhood didn’t have many specutors cheerins us on, as say the Twin Cities would have.

With the abundance of water stops I was taking in more fuilds than normal and had to go pee already by mile 6.5. I was thinking 'oh no', this is too early to have to use the bathroom and I don’t want to lose the pacer. So I would scan the area for any signs of a port a potty coming our way. I saw some in the distance and picked up the race to not lose the pacer. I was lucky there was no line and it was by a water stop, which we walked. I was in and out in about a minute and raced to catch back up to the pacer. I also had to do that at mile 11. I was hoping it wouldn't be like that all day. I was lucky both times there wasn't a line and I could catch up with the pacer fairly easy.

After leaving the Bexley area we headed westbound towards downtown where we encountered some gentel hills through miles 7 to 10. The row type houses and buidlings become more dense as the crowds become more livier inspiring us runners though the inclines of the road. This section was lined with the colored flags in support of their partner choices. At this point the weather was getting warmer but tolerable and the wind was becoming alittle breezier at times. At mile 10 we turned south on Third Street making our way to German Village. We ran past Schiller Park about mile 11.5 in German Village and headed northward on High Street.

On High Street is were the one begins to believe they are truely running a marathon. The half marathoner split off and finish there race while we continued on up High Street for a total of 5 miles. Also, at the half way point we were joined by another pace leader, Robin, since Columbus is were most of them lived and they had many reserves to tap into. At this point during the race my knee started to hurt just for a little while. I fought off the pain and wasn’t going to let it ruin my chances of a sub five hour marathon. The northbound run up High Street provided little shade and the sun was relentless. I started to worry since I could tell I was becoming warmer and thrister. I thought after the half way point the water stops were a lot less frequent than in the beginning and I kept wondering when the next one would come. Reaching the end of High Street at mile 17 was heaven, since it was a good gradual incline for about a mile and half. Rounding the corner the runners we met with a severe downhill for about a half a mile. Then greeted with another incline cresting at about the highest point of the course at mile 18. There were a few good ups and downs from 15 to 23, that the elevation chart really didn’t show that well. What was flat on the chart was definitly an uphill incline. I really had to go bathroom again at around mile 20 or 21. I kept scanning up ahead for a port a potty but didn’t see any. I knew if I left them to use one I wouldn't be able to sustain the pace we were keeping. We did pass one but I chanced it to and held out until the finish. I couldn't believe how good I felt. All my other previous marathons up to this point I was doing a shufflers walk/run and I felt horrible. This marathon was a very unquie experience. I didn't feel bad and that was such a positive at this point in the race. It felt great to pass people and not be the passe. Our pace was great but I could start to feel it in my legs, the quads and calves, were starting to become tight and a little sore. It was nice to get out of the shade once in a while when that cover presented itself. Towards the end the weather was warmer for my tastes. I kept debating when I was going to pull away from the 5 hour pacer. They kept me telling me to wait to see what I felt like at mile 23. That was such a great thing.

Mile 23 approached and I knew I had to stay with the pacer. I was getting very tired but surprised I was still actually running and holding onto a pace. For the next two miles I didn’t say much. I tucked up right behind her, for one to have her block the wind and second I focused on her leg movements as we moved forward to the finish. I was starting to doubt if I could finish under 5 because my legs were so tired and sore. Those were the toughest miles in the whole marathon. Another pacer joined in at about 24.5. She paced the second half of the 4:30 group and walked back along the course to find the other pacers still making their way to the finish.

Once I saw mile 25 I KNEW I had my 5 hour marathon becaue that was ONLY 4 laps around a track. Peice of cake! I could do that, it would just be like any other old training run. I bolted and picked up the pace A LOT to see how far under 5 hours I could get. The 5 hour pacers cheered me on and the other pacer that just joined us helped me in. I started out fast for about 1 lap and started to slow. The pacer was very encouraging. She said I looked stronger than some of the 4:30 finishers. She said to relax my shoulders and breathe with the incline as there was still a ways to go. Since it was up a slight incline for about 2 more laps. She had me focus on landmark. She said only 2 more stoplights, take the right and you have a downhill finish. I liked knowing the distance of when I could pick up the pace again. Once I rounded that corner and saw the finish victory was mine. With only about 1 lap left I sprinted towards the finish. I was literally flying down the downhill to the finish. I could feel my calves burning but I so wanted to be finished and my journey of a sub 5 hour would be over. My chip time was 4:57:08.

The pacer just couldn't believe how fast I kicked it in that last mile. My last pace was about 10:45, where we were averaging about 11:27. It was nice to finish strong and realize a dream of mine for such a long time. It was just a great day. It all worked out perfectly and sticking with the 5 hour pacer is what did it for me. I was the only one from the beginning that was able to stay with her until the finish. Everyone dropped off between mile 16 and 21. I took my gels at around mile 6, 12, bag of shot bloks from mile 15 to 16, then another gel at mile 21. I had to force the last one down.

It was a super day and weekend by far. I loved meeting some of my fellow poster on the Weight Watchers Marathoner’s board and realizing a goal I set 5 years before when doing my first marathon.