Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Columbus Half Marathon Race Recap

This was such an amazing day.  From start to finish, great things happened.

I did not set any personal records (PRs), in fact, it was my slowest half marathon on record.  That could have contributed to the day's awesome factor.

With my hip taking most of the summer to heal, I didn't have a whole lot of time to speed train, so I didn't prepare to PR this race.  I felt that it was smarter to run it a little slower, especially with Ragnar looming. 

Several weeks ago, I told Kate that I'd pace her for her time goal.  Her first half marathon was in hell Cleveland.  We all know how THAT day turned out.  Her finish time was 2:36.  Because of the cooler temps, we knew she would PR Columbus, the question was, by how much?  She chose 2:20 as her goal time.

My mission for this race was to get Kate to the finish line by 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Saturday night, I laid out all of my clothes and gear and went to bed just before 10pm.
On Sunday, my alarm was set for 4:10am.  This would give me plenty of time to get dressed, eat some granola, apply my butterfly tattoos (Nationwide Children's Hospital's logo is butterflies, I picked up a few of these babies at the expo so I could have butterflies flying up my calf.  Pretty badass, if you ask me.) and meet Anne and Kate at 5am to drive downtown to find parking.
We got to the parking lot early enough that there were no attendants so we got to park for free!  Score!  We had a little time, so we sat in the nice warm car for a bit (where Jen, one of our Saturday morning running friends joined us) before heading out to meet our running group at 6am.  After a quick picture with RunDMC, we set out to find more of our Saturday morning running friends who were running the full, Erin and Sarah.  By the time we caught up with them, it was almost 7am and about time to check our bags at the gear check. I'm not going to lie: I was freezing.  It was below 40 degrees and we had no coats on.  Once the corrals started to fill up and we were standing in a crowd, it warmed up a little. 
When the gun went off for the second wave, my body rebelled a little.  It was so cold that my knees and ankles were stiff.  I thought to myself, "If this doesn't improve, it's going to be a long race.."  By mile 2, all moving parts were behaving exactly as they should.
The first half of the race flew by.  There was so much to look at between the other runners and the signs in the crowd.  My watch beeped at mile 5 and I couldn't believe we'd run 5 miles already!  Kate and I hung out with Erin and Sarah for most of the first 8 or so miles.  Kate was doing GREAT!  I was letting her set the pace and I was just tagging along.  We were on track for a 2:18 finish.
At mile 8, Kate started having trouble keeping her breath.  She'd been battling a chest cold and it was starting to give her problems.  We walked a few times in the next few miles so she could catch her breath.  The hills on High Street at 12 and 12.5 really gave her fits. (I'm thrilled to report that my hill training for Ragnar is really making a difference.  The hills on High Street that forced me to walk last year at CapCity didn't even slow me down this year.)  I was watching our pace creep up and at mile 12.5 I told Kate that if she wanted a 2:20 finish, we needed to move. We were cutting it close.  Kate said to me "As long as I come in faster than 2:36, I'm good."
She was trying to give up.
Not on my watch.
If we don't make it in 2:20, that's ok, but it won't be because I let Kate give up!
My watched beeped 13 miles just before we turned left onto Nationwide Boulevard to the downhill finish.  We sprinted to the finish line. 
We're going to make it!
I grabbed Kate's hand and cheered for her as we crossed the finish line in 2:19:55.
Who says running isn't a team sport?  
I was so thrilled for her.  I have tears in my eyes as I type.  Kate is the proud owner of a shiny new 16 minute PR.  Hell. Yea.
After Kate caught her breath, we took finish line pictures together.  I want so badly to post them, but those pesky copyright laws....  Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of my own since Randy wasn't attending this race.
After we made it out of the finish area, we caught up with Anne and Jen, heard all about their race and said good bye to Jen as she left with her family.  Anne, Kate and I went out to cheer on the finishers and wait for our friend Christa who was walking a half marathon for the first time.  We all screamed like lunatics when Christa went by.  She smiled and waved to us as she headed to the finish.
Such an awesome day already and it just kept getting better.
We walked the marathon course backward a little ways to see our Saturday morning friends and Amanda, a Ragnar teammate, finish the marathon.  We stopped to wait at mile 25.5, the bottom of the final hill of the marathon.  The 26 mile marker was at the top of the hill, then the course turned right to the downhill finish on Nationwide Boulevard.
Amanda came first, I had originally planned to jump in with her and run her in, but I saw that she had another Ragnar teammate, Doug, with her so I cheered and waved as they passed by.  Amanda finished with a huge PR. 
Erin came next.  Anne jumped in with her and ran her to the top of the hill and sent her down the finish chute and came back.  Erin finished a few minutes ahead of her goal time.
Sarah was next, I jumped in with her and ran her up the hill.  She wasn't too chatty.  She was tired and ready to be done.  I told her how great she was doing, that she only had a few minutes to go and I sent her down the finish chute.
A couple of minutes after I got back to our station at the bottom of the hill, Laurie, a friend on Dailymile who I met in person at the pub runs, came by.  Laurie is a race walker; a pretty impressive one. Her blog is called I can walk as fast as you run, and it's true. I asked her if she wanted company and she yelled "Yes, please!"  Laurie was a rock star.  She said she was getting tired and sore, but I still had to run to keep up with her.  She was very chatty and said she was really bored with no one to talk to.  I congratulated her at the top of the hill and sent her down the chute.
Amy, another pub runner who Ellie just adores, came up next.  I asked if she wanted company, she did, but wasn't very chatty.  No problem. I can distract.  I told her about the hill, it's short and not too steep, but at mile 26, I'm sure it felt like Mt. Everest.  I talked Amy up the hill, "you're doing great, you're almost there, don't look at the top..." Then I sent her down to the finish.
I was getting quite the hill workout!
When I got to the bottom of the hill, Anne and Kate were coming my way with Andrea.  This was Andrea's first marathon, our friend and Ragnar teammate, Allen, and Andrea's husband, Doug--who had already finished the marathon, were also with them.  Doug ran ahead and snapped a few pictures of Andrea's support parade.
Kate, me, Andrea, Anne
Andrea was tired, not smiling and she was answering our questions in grunts, not words.  Looking back, I giggle a little.  I was the same way by the time I finished the disaster of a marathon in Cleveland.  We all walked with Andrea to the top of the hill.  She found the strength to run down to the chute to the finish while we all ran along the outside of the chute cheering for her.
Andrea's finish was the perfect ending to an incredible day.  I love this sport.
Really, I'm not short.  They're all giants.  ;-)
*Special Thanks:
to Randy for setting his alarm for 4am because my neurotic self was afraid my alarm wouldn't go off and for keeping our children plus Kate's children which allowed us to hang out downtown to see all of our friends finish.  Without him, my spectacular day would not have been possible.
to Allen and Richard for coming down to cheer us on.  It's always great to see familiar faces on the course.
to Doug and Andrea for allowing me to use their pictures in this post.
About the race:
This was my first time running any part of the Columbus Marathon and I can't say enough good things about it.  This race was very well organized and the course was well marked.  There were tons of race volunteers and police officers manning all of the side streets. 
There were photographers everywhere.  Way more than I've seen at any other race and some of the pictures are really good!
The crowd support was incredible!  There were people everywhere!  Some of the signs were hysterical.  My favorite: If Brittney survived 2007, you can survive this marathon!
The water stops were plentiful and there was more than enough water to go around.  Take a lesson, Cleveland!
There were 18,000 racers and the course never felt crowded.  This could be because we positioned ourselves just right in the corrals, and/or because we started on a pretty wide road. Smart thinking, Columbus Marathon.
I will totally be running this race again next year.  Columbus is the best event I've been to.  Bonus: no hotel room needed.
If you made it to the end, thanks for reading.  I know I'm long winded.  There's just so much I want to remember!! (I have two purposes for writing, to preserve my memories and to share them with others.)
Were you at the Columbus Marathon this year?  What did you think? 
Have you run Columbus in the past?  Has it always been this awesome?


  1. You were like a little angel when you shouted that to me! I was feeling okay and needed to talk to someone! I didn't know you had jumped in with Amy too! That's just awesome. You were at the perfect spot and for that I am thankful! Congrats to Kate - thats just awesome!!

    This was my 4th time doing Columbus - 3 halves and a full and it is always awesome but never as awesome as Sunday!

  2. Columbus Full next year? I'll need a training buddy.

  3. Congrats on a good run -it might not have been your fastest but you did well coming back from the injury. Interesting you posted about the course not being crowded - working the water stop it seemed *really* crowded. I had thought to myself that I wouldn't want to run this course if it was like that all the way but I guess it's just the traffic jam as everyone slowed down.

  4. Congrats on a great run and excellent pacing! Too cool seeing you at the end of the full too!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.