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Columbus Marathon race report

OakLeaf2010-12-13 02:19:07 +0000 #1
The Plan

When I ran Cleveland in May, my main goal was just to test the water, see if I liked it. So I’d done conservative. It was fun. I didn’t have any need to do it again. For my age, Boston Marathon qualifying time was 4:05. Sixteen minutes faster than I’d run Cleveland. I was going for broke. I would try to run negative splits, but not by a lot. If I blew up, so be it.

Heading to the starting corral I tried to psych myself up by reviewing the highlights of my training with my husband. “I totally nailed my last tempo run, right?” “Right.” “The last time I did mile repeats I did four and it felt good, right?” “Right.” “This course has maybe 250 feet of climbing, and the flattest course I trained on this summer was 1400 feet in 20 miles. With a 15%’er or steeper pretty much every three miles. Right?” “Right.” “It’s 30 or 40 degrees cooler today than it was for any of my long runs, right?” “Right.” “I can totally do this.”

I tried to quiet the niggling voice in my head. “My fastest long run pace this season was 12:10/mi. I was tapped out at the end of that 7-mile tempo run. I’m not in as good shape as I was going into Cleveland. I’ve only run 20+ four times since that race in May. I’ve only been training 11 weeks, and that counts my taper.” I threaded through the crowd into my starting corral and let the music drown out that voice.

The Theme

As the theme for my first marathon, “Gratitude” worked well, but I needed more this time. I’d gotten through the run leg of my first sprint triathlon in July by sheer cussedness, but I don’t have four hours’ worth of cussedness in my body. I was going to need to remember why I was running: because I want to. Because I love it, when (like a lot of runners) I’m not too busy hating it. The theme for this race would be “Keep the gratitude, bring the joy.” On my nasal strip, I wrote one word: JOY.

The Wardrobe Malfunction

I’d treated myself to a new race belt after my bouncing SpiBelt drove me nearly insane in Cleveland. But I’d only tested the new belt with water in the gel flask. Perpetuem paste is denser than water, so the full flask was heavier, and it was apparently too much for the belt. The flask fell out three times in the first three and a half miles. The last time, I didn’t notice immediately, and actually had to salmon back 30 or 40 feet to retrieve it. NOT good. I ran with it in my hand for a bit, then took a swig and put it back in the holster. After that, it was light enough to stay put. But, its push-pull valve is a bit stiff, and at some point I didn’t get it completely closed. Sticky beige Perpetuem paste dribbled out onto my jersey and tights. Yuk.

The Run

At the start, I lined up with the 4:15 pace group, and stayed with them for a half mile or so to warm up. Then I kicked up the pace to something that felt good, which turned out to be around 9:10 m/m. It was quicker than I’d intended to go out, but I took stock of my heart rate, my breathing and my legs, and decided to stay with it. I settled into a comfortable 92 rpm cadence and kept the pace reasonably consistent through the 10-mile mark in German Village. I’d planned to pick it up there, but I’d also planned to go out slower, so I just stayed steady.

The half-marathoners turned off to their finish, and we continued north on High Street. I know the area, but as a race it was new territory for me. I listened for my name and grinned as a volunteer called out each runner who crossed the 13.1 mile timing pad. As we entered the campus area, we passed my alma mater, and I called to anyone who might be listening, “This is way easier than law school!” Not sure if I really believe that, but at least it’s two and a half years shorter.

The race turned west into the unpopulated acres of the ag campus. Cheering spectators lined almost the entire course, but here they were much more sparse. I’d read complaints from previous years’ runners about this area, so I was prepared; but in reality, even among the test crops there were more spectators than almost anywhere along the course in Cleveland. The slogan for this year’s race was “Feel the whole city behind you,” and in Columbus, that really is true.

More seriously, I was starting to tire. I wouldn’t say I hit a wall – not as I’ve heard that described – but in the 19th mile, my pace dropped to 9:49. I scrolled through my Chi Running focuses, tried to understand and correct the reasons for my fatigue, and watched the hundredths tick off my second 10-mile split.

Spectators grew dense again as we passed into the western suburbs. I crossed the 20-mile timing pad and listened for my name. Ten K to go and I was on pace - just. Now was the time for “gathering and issuing.” Joy, I reminded myself, Gratitude and Joy. I pulled energy from the earth and visualized a furnace of energy at my crown. I watched the time clocks at each mile marker and kept up a near-constant chant in my head: “I’ve got this. I’ve totally got this. I can do this.”

The Finish

I’d planned what I was going to holler when I crossed the line, but I couldn’t get it out of my mouth until I was getting my finisher’s medal. “Pheidippi-dabba-doo!”

I wasn’t sure how much time had passed between the gun and when I crossed the start line, and I intentionally hadn’t set my watch to display elapsed time during the race, so the 4:08 and change on the finish line clock only told me I was close. I scrolled through the display windows until I saw my time. 4:05. I’d done it. Barely.

I didn’t know whether to cry or puke. I didn’t see Keith, so I just sat on the ground and put my legs up against a park bench. It was only then that I noticed the Perpetuem paste that had leaked all over my tights. I looked as though I’d already puked, and I was too spent to cry, so I just sprawled in the grass until I felt ready to get up and look for Keith.

Now What?

Regardless of my finish, I’d been thinking I didn’t want to jump right back into another marathon training cycle. Boston marathon qualifying times are good for two years, and now it’s time to get back on the bike a little more, maybe work a little bit on swimming. So I looked at the BAA website when registration opened Monday morning, but didn’t try to register, and I wasn’t really disappointed when the race sold out in eight hours.

Now, because of the fast sell-out, I’m hearing that the BAA is considering handling qualifying and/or registration differently in the future. But I won’t say that I missed my chance. On Sunday, I’d qualified for Boston on 11 weeks of half-assed training, with a hypothetical Magic 8-Ball as my coach. If I really want to cross the Boston Marathon off my bucket list, and if I need to qualify again, I can do it. When it’s time.


indysteel2010-12-13 02:26:35 +0000 #2
I always cry a little when I read these big race/ride reports. Your's was no exception. I'm very moved by the strength and fortitude the women on TE display on a regular basis. Your last tri report comes to mind, too.

Congratulations on a job well done!
colby2010-12-13 02:59:22 +0000 #3
Great picture, congrats again.
spokewench2010-12-13 03:19:47 +0000 #4
Great Job and I love how you kept your mental attitude!
indigoiis2010-12-13 03:56:53 +0000 #5
Yayyyyyyyy!!!! *schnoooooooooooooooooooooooooooffff!!!* I am not too sentimental a gal, but, you earned this one! Big hugs to you! That is a great achievement.
Bike Chick2010-12-13 02:36:13 +0000 #6
Pheidippi-dabba-doo, Oak!!!

You are awesome!
jessmarimba2010-12-13 04:35:42 +0000 #7
Congrats! That's fantastic!!

The chi-running technique is working for you? I have read a little about it but never did much deeper research.

And as for Boston - I can't imagine ever qualifying - but how crazy was that? I have a hard enough time making up my mind about races that sell out just a couple weeks in advance.
Susan Otcenas2010-12-13 04:26:31 +0000 #8
Most excellent.

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