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.
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