Saturday morning I packed up the car and Mandy, Widdle and I hit the road for the 2 1/2 drive to Columbus for the race. When we got just north of the city we got caught in a little traffic due to the Ohio State football game. My parents were waiting for us in the hotel lobby and helped us unload and get settled in. We gave Widdle some time to get use to his surroundings before we headed to the race expo. The expo was freaking packed when we got there and the layout was not the greatest. The packet pickup was on the second floor terrace overlooking the expo floor. The stairs for the packet pickup were all the way in the back of the hall, which was a pain to weave our way through the tight isle ways. When we got up there I had to go to three different stations to get my bib, shirt and goodie bag. There was a lot of vendors there, but the hall seemed to small for everything going on. I couldn't really enjoy the expo so we decided to just head out and get dinner before I settled in for the night.
I really did my best to get some sleep the night before, but I just couldn’t get my brain to shut down. I am sure that is pretty typical for most people the night before their first marathon. I finally dozed off at some point because I woke up to use the bathroom and the clock said 2:45 and the last time I remember seeing was around 10:30. I had my alarm set to go off at 5AM, but I ended up waking up on my own a little after 4:30. I hopped in the shower to help wake me up and then fixed myself something to eat. For breakfast I had three slices of white bread with a little smart balance butter, some cinnamon and a little Truvia sprinkled on top along with I a Clif brand chocolate chip crunch granola bar and a bottle of water. The night before I had my gear all laid out so I really didn’t have to think about what I needed when I was getting ready.
We met my parents in the hotel lobby at five minutes to six and slowly made our way down to the starting area. I was concerned by how far the walk was going to be, but it turned out to not really be that bad. The weather was pretty darn good for a start to a race. The temp was in the low to mid 40s, hardly any wind at all and partly cloudy skies. When we reached the start/finish line we looked around for where my parents, Mandy and Widdle were going to be when I started the race. The layout didn’t allow for any spectators near the corals pre race so we wanted to figure out where they were all going to be and I made sure I was on that side of the street when I passed them. We took a few pictures and I began to take off my warm up clothes and get myself situated. We hugged, said our goodbyes and I made my way to the corrals.
I had said that I wanted to use a pace group to help with my pace of the race, but unfortunately that wasn’t going to happen. The time I was shooting for was smack dab in the middle of two pace groups, so I thought, I have trained all this time by myself I am going to run this race all by myself. The first mile was awesome and sucked all at the same time. The road was kind of narrow and with all the extra people in my corral made it really hard to get a good rhythm going. I was constantly speeding up and slowing down and I was so afraid I was going to trip on the feet of the temporary fence they had lining the street. That being said the good part had to do with the spectator support. It was incredible how many people were there cheering, clapping, holding signs and offering there support. It literally gave me goose bumps for that first mile.
Once I got to mile two I started to get into a good rhythm and was really enjoying myself. The runners started to get spaced out and I had a lot more room to stretch my legs. This race had some really great areas to run through once we got out of the downtown concrete jungle.
For the first 6 miles of the race my pace seemed to be right on schedule. I wanted to be between an 8:46 and an 8:50. I figured that would keep me close to my goal pace and I wouldn’t burn myself out by going to fast in the first half of the race. When I hit the 10K timing mat my pace was right on schedule at an 8:49 and that is when things went a little haywire. My Garmin started giving me what I figured out to be false info due to bad reception from the satellites. It started saying I was running an eight minute mile pace, which was way to fast and I was so afraid I was going to burn out to early so I slowed down. It barely budged so I slowed down some more. I was as close to a walk as you could get without truly walking and it said I was still doing an 8:25 pace. WTF!!! It was at that point I knew something was wrong and I sped back up to what felt like the pace I was running. Unfortunately it was to late and the damage was done, because when I crossed the half way timing mat my pace had dropped to an 8:59. I was a little upset with myself, but I was still on pace for a sub 4 hour finish. My plan was to do a negative split anyway for the second half of the race so without going to awful crazy I picked up the pace and started catching up to and passing a few people I was running with before my big slowdown.
Miles twenty three and four were the toughest for me because my right thigh was in so much pain. I changed to more of a shuffle for a little while and then tried to do more of a high step to bend my leg a little more to try and stretch it out. Just at that time Mandy called me to see how I was doing and to give me some encouragement. It was like she new what I needed because even though I was talking about how bad my thigh hurt, talking to her helped me relax and keep my mind off of it. After we hung up I told myself I came this freaking far without walking or stopping and I wasn’t going to start now. Just before I hit mile twenty five the thigh started to loosen up and felt half way normal again. I changed my playlist again to my “last Mile” playlist which started with Eminem’s Till I collapse. The opening of that song was perfect for my situation and gave me the shot of adrenalin I needed.
The whole time during my training I would visualize what it would be like as I ran that last 1.2 miles. The thoughts and emotions I would feel as I took those last strides through the finishers shoot with my hands raised high in the air. Well I got the hands raised in the air part right. I was so focused on that last 1.2 miles I almost got tunnel vision. I cranked up my music as loud as it would go and told myself I am going to give it everything I got till I cross that line. I was so focused I barely noticed my Dad and Nephew waving at me and I totally missed Mandy, my Mom and my Sister screaming at me just before the finish line.
It took quite a while for the weight of what I had just done to impact me. I really think the overall shock to my body and aching pain was all I could feel at the time. I was greeted by my family who were so happy for me, but all I could think about was my legs and how hard it was to walk. Don’t get me wrong I was happy, how could you not be after completing a task such as a marathon, I just expected all those feelings to take place immediately at the finish line not a day or two later when I was able to sit back and reflect on it. If I had to guess one of the big reasons I don't think I was able to just soak it all in and enjoy the moment is because of the hotel. Apparently their was a Fleetwood Mac concert that night and the hotel was fully booked and they weren't allowing any late checkouts. I finished around 11:30am so almost immediately I said we need to get going to I could get in a quick shower and pack up to head home. This also kept me from enjoying all the post race festivities that were going on.
This post has already gone on a little to long so I think I will end it here. I'll come back with some final thoughts on my training, the race and what my future running plans are.