Columbus Marathon Race Report, take 2.
Back in October, 2006, I ran my first marathon, the Columbus Marathon. My goal was to finish, which I did (barely?) after a couple of costly mistakes and a lot of walking toward the end. The next April, I ran the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon in Louisville (again, with a goal of finishing), after which I swore I was done with marathoning. But this spring, due mostly to dailymile, I got the bug again.
So I returned to the site of my first-ever marathon. This time, instead of "just" finishing the marathon, I set a time goal. Actually I set two goals. My first goal was a "stretch" goal - to finish in 3:34. My secondary goal was 3:40. That might not mean anything to you without this information: my personal record (PR) for the marathon was 4:17:59. Meaning I wasn't just aiming to beat my PR; I was aiming to smash it.
The morning started beautifully; not too cold, actually really nice for a run. This year they instituted a corral system, based on qualifying, where the faster runners started toward the front, which was excellent. Instead of walking for a block and a half to the start line and then trying to pick my way through gobs of slow traffic, I was able to start close to the start line and immediately run.
I was happy to run with my friend Matt (pictured in the "I ran my first marathon" pictures linked above, wearing the maroon sweatshirt) for many of the early miles, but unfortunately I felt too good and went out way too fast. My target time was 8:12/mile, but I found myself in the high 7's. Which would have been fine for a 1/2 marathon, but not for the full.
I left Matt and started running with his friend, Chris, who I met on the course, but eventually Chris dropped off (maybe he was doing the 1/2?) so I ran for a while with a teacher from Gahanna (my former stomping grounds). My pace started dropping around the 1/2 way point, but now they were in my realistic range. I stayed that way until around somewhere in the 18 mile range, where I started to fade. My times started to suffer, and got worse as the race went on.
I continued to think the 3:34 was within range until the 3:30 pace group caught me and quickly left me in the dust. By this time, my pace had slowed to a 10 minute mile crawl. My calves and hamstrings were screaming and it was all I could do to keep from walking. My mind was playing games by this time, and I wasn't going to let it do the "just walk through the water stop" game - because I didn't know if I'd start running again!
As I closed in on the finish, I wondered if I would ever reach the end of the race. I missed a mile marker in there, so it seemed like I was on mile 23 forever! I kept being passed (possibly by runners who had run a smarter race and not gone out 30 seconds/mile faster than their target) - my race results indicated that after mile 20, I passed 34 runners... but was passed by 134.
I shuffled across the finish line in 3:40.09, right on my "secondary" goal time - a PR by 38 minutes!