Tuesday, October 19, 2010

After the Columbus Marathon: Some Thoughts Two Days Later

I loved the corral system.  It was so helpful to not have to dig my way through walkers and slow runners - just to hit my pace immediately upon starting the race.  I've never experienced that in a marathon before.

The in-course entertainment was quite varied - it was hard to get hyped up for someone playing Van Morrison on an acoustic guitar, but I was pretty impressed (very impressed, even) at some of the bands playing.  It was 7:30, 7:45am on a SUNDAY, and they were bringing it. Especially that funk group on Broad Street.  Amazing.

One thing that made the marathon special for me was having friends there.  I had a great time running with Matt Schreiber - we ran together twice in 2006: the Hocking Hills Indian Run 40K and the Columbus Marathon.  I've kept up with him via facebook and dailymile, but I hadn't seen him in ages.  Of course, Matt's brother Mike and Speedy Rob Turner were miles ahead of us.

And then there was the dailymile crowd.  I have been so encouraged and motivated by being a part of a running "club" even though most of the interaction is online.  It was super cool to meet up for a Run DMC (DailyMile Columbus) pasta party the night before the race, to put faces with names and to meet some really fast runners and some first-time marathoners.  Then meeting up with the gang before the race was great.  It took away some of the before-race anxiety.

Then there was the cool picture that ended up on the marathon website - you might be able to tell how strong I felt and how happy I was at the time the picture was taken.  It was probably between miles 14 and 15 - I was feeling strong; I'd just run a PR for the 1/2 marathon, and things looked good.

About the race...
I have got to learn to take off more slowly.  I knew better.  Honestly, I did.  I set a target time of 8:12 miles.  But I took off too fast - partly because it felt good and partly because I thought that maybe I could run faster than my goal time.  My stretch goal time, at that.  There's really just one word to describe that way of thinking: not smart.  I trained toward a certain goal, and to second-guess that goal while running (in the first 20 miles) wasn't a smart move at all.  Adjusting a goal (faster) during the last 6 miles... maybe.  Not so much during the first 1/2.

I felt like I remembered runners being friendlier on the course than I experienced Sunday.  Yes, I ended up meeting a couple of people (Chris, originally from Zanesville and Tracy, the teacher from Gahanna), but I remembered runners being more chatty and more encouraging. In fact, I don't remember as much encouragement - not from the sidelines, nor from other runners.  During the race, besides Matt, with whom I was running for many of the first miles, I only saw one familiar face, my dailymile friend, Brett L.

I didn't realize that the course had changed, so once we passed the 1/2, I was lost.  I lost all frame of reference, which stunk.  Upper Arlington, Grandview Heights... it was all the same.  People out watching, not necessarily cheering, low-key music... I was wishing I'd worn my iPod so I could listen to some hard-charging music.

At this point I was doing everything I could to keep going, so maybe it wouldn't have made a difference to have had the streets packed with friends and family cheering my name.  Or maybe it would have.

As I approached the finish line, I tried to speed up.  I don't think I was successful.  In fact, I'll bet my last couple of miles were stronger in 2006, when I ran a 4:26.  It sure felt like it.  I couldn't even psych myself into the "only 4 more miles to go" thoughts.  I was trying to compare the distance left to one of my easy runs here in Millersport, but it didn't work.  Yes, I did catch one person down the stretch.  And I did hold off all challengers on the way down the hill to the finish line.  But that was all I had.

After the race, I wandered around, looking for one of those space-blanket thingies.  I was freezing, but I couldn't find them.  And I couldn't find anyone to show me where they might be.  The only "official" people I could find were the photographers, one of whom snapped a horrible picture of me, one in which I look halfway dead, and the girl with the chocolate milk.  I never thought I'd like chocolate milk post-race, but it hit the spot.

I also couldn't find the Krispy-Kremes.  I heard rumors they were giving them out, but either they'd run out, or I just couldn't find them.  Maybe they were with the space blankets.  At least there was still other food, not like I felt hungry at the time.  One of my friends reported that it was gone by the time he finished.

There was a band playing Green Day tunes really loudly on a stage.  They sounded pretty good - but too loud for me at that moment.  But all I wanted was to sit down and rest my legs. Then we headed home.  Rob dropped me off at my car, and it took all my concentration to make it home.  I was cold, so I didn't want to put my windows down, but I smelled so bad, I couldn't stand to be in the closed up car!

When I got home, I was wondering what kind of fool runs marathons.

But two days later, I'm thinking about my race strategy and how I can convince myself to run more slowly so I possibly have more in the tank for miles 21-26.2


Robert said...

You should come run Grand Rapids next year Rev. Run, it's super organized, which it sounds like Columbus lacked. The race director, Don Kern, has run 203 marathons, so he has learned a thing or two about what the race needs!

Chad said...

You are awesome.
I enjoyed this post because it was honest and I like that. Also, wondering after, am I just CRAZY? DId I just do that??? LOL
Awesome you knew so many people too.

Drew said...

I'm going to do my best to learn from your early miles lessons and keep my pace under control the first few miles. I have a tendency to take off too fast, too.

Also, I'm with you on the music at the finish. I like chatting with other runners, and sometimes it's not possible to hear what others are saying when it gets too loud.

Kym Klass said...

Thanks for this report -- always interesting to get perspectives from different races. Great job out there, Brian. You gave it what you had, learned from some parts, and are already looking for your next marathon. That says a lot about you and your commitment. At your next marathon, snatch 2 of those silver blankets in case the marathon after THAT one doesn't have any :) ... have a great day!

ashleyjane36 said...

Don't you hate coming out the chute and all you want is a water and you can only find Gatorade? Or you want a muffin and they only have cookies? Or WORSE, everyone else has muffins and you can't find them! Thanks for being honest. I'm running my first marathon in December and it's nice to hear even experienced runners say, "WTF AM I DOING??"

heath said...

Brilliant - I like that. Don't think I'll ever run a marathon though.