The weekend started out with a road trip just two hours south of home and 3 other running friends. In the days leading up to the race, I was unsure what the temperature would be like that morning or even what I would wear. We’ve trained all summer in hot and humid temperatures that I didn’t know what I would do in the cool crisp mornings. We were going to hit up a running store and then the expo, so I was going to look for some capri pants to run in (I know this is a big running no- no) with my HRC tshirt. I have a lot of cold weather running gear, but not much for the in-between.
As we all discussed strategy and running gear, the drive seemed to go fairly quickly. Just like that we were at the running store and out stretching our legs. I was starting to feel some nerves because I wasn’t quite sure if I could run a full 26.2 miles. Training said I could, but there was a lot of self-doubt. By the time we arrived at the expo, there were booths already being taken down. There was still an hour and a half left before it closed! We went up and got our bibs and gear bags and then headed down to see the vendors. I picked up some GU and took the obligatory pictures with the large daunting numbers.
As we headed to our dinner reservations, the wind picked up. When I say picked up, I mean we felt like we were going to blow away. A large marathon route sign fell right in front of us. We all kept praying that the wind would die down before we had to hit the start line in the morning. Once we got to our restaurant, we checked and there was an advisory for 50-55mph winds!!! We were pretty sure we just attempted to walk through that.
I was starting to feel like I had a sinus cold coming on so I took some medicine and went to bed. Sleep came quick, but the morning came even quicker. The alarm clock rang and it was time to get dressed and prepped to run. I was still feeling pretty foggy in the morning so I took some more medicine and ate some peanut butter. I don’t like to run with food on my stomach because that’s when I experience bathroom issues.
As we headed down to our corrals, Susan and I said good luck to our fellow running friends and waited for the second wave to start. In the Columbus marathon, they actually start one wave of runners and then repeat the starting process for the second wave. We made sure we were right in the front of the second wave because we wanted to attempt a 4:15 marathon time which was paced in the corral ahead of us. When the gun went off we were off. The first mile was completed in under 9 minutes. I knew we had to back off if we were going to last the remaining 25. I started watching the pace and Susan was watching the miles based on goal bracelets that were given out at the expo. We were ahead of schedule through the first half.
It is always very tempting to complete the first half and just want to run in with all the people who were finishing up. But, we still had another 13.1 to go. I could tell Susan was feeling really good with her race because she kept running through each mile. In training, once we hit the mile we would walk for a minute or two and then start running again. She only walked through the water stations to get her fuel. At mile 16 I was starting to feel cramping in my quads. This was new because most of the time there is pain in your knees or calf muscles. My legs just felt heavy. I could tell Susan was trying to wait for me but by mile 17 I had told her to just go on and run her race. I didn’t want to hold her back from her goals. I was still on pace to hit mine, but I knew slower miles were coming. I stopped to stretch at mile 18 and then set a goal to run at least 3/4 of every mile left in front of me. I caught up to our running friends as one of them was singing! She had been battling a cold for two weeks prior to this race so she’s a super hero for going out and giving it her all!
After a while, I kept going and the miles did seem to tick a little faster than 16-19 moved. However, my times were still getting slower. The crowd support was a little thinner than I remember, but the patient champions were out there with their families and that was inspiring enough to keep moving! At mile 21 the crowd kept saying “only 5 more miles!” Problem is, that isn’t that encouraging. At the start of mile 26 I decided that I was going to run it in and not stop until I crossed the finish line. I finished that mile in 9:40 and then the final .5 was an 8:55 pace. I’m not sure why, but my watch clocked the race at 26.5 miles instead of 26.2. I started it right when I crossed the start line and ended it when I hit the finish. But, every mile marker I hit, my watch was .25 miles ahead after mile 2.
Just like that, all my training and hard work had come to an end. The final result was a 4:21:03, just 1:03 over my goal time. However, it is 26 minutes faster than my first marathon so I shaved off a minute per mile! I need to work on miles 18-25 to really improve my time. This may or may not be my last road marathon. I’m going to try trails for awhile and just enjoy my time running. If the Columbus marathon teaches you anything, it is that running is a privilege that should not be taken for granted.