2010 Columbus Marathon

I’m calling this The Race That Shouldn’t Have Been, because seriously everything that shouldn’t happen before a big race happened.

This is also a really long post, full of reflections, backstory, and recap.  I hope you stick around but I understand if you do not.

This was my first time running the Columbus Marathon and my second attempt.  For the record, I run halfs, I do not run fulls.  More on that in a future post, today we are focused on this race recap.

The Columbus Marathon is a full marathon and a half marathon.  This is also a qualifying marathon for those interested in trying to obtain the magical BQ.  For Columbus, Ohio, this race is A BIG DEAL.  There are a total of 15,000 participants and thousands of spectators and supporters.  Just think big.

I tried to run it last year but a previous injury kept me sidelined.

This year I was determined to run it.

Then Lori told me she was coming up to run it and that’s when I started getting excited!  Then I found out Heather was running it too, and I got even more excited!  Friends coming into town to race is full of awesome.

I was nervous about this race though.

I raced a half in May and kept my miles up through out the summer.  I was running 12 miles for my long runs but I was slightly less confident for this race.  I let my running slack a bit later in the summer and let my strength training slide considerably.

Scott and I have become so busy working on different projects that martial arts training has gone down the tubes as well.  While I had consistent long runs with no issue, my week day runs were short and nothing to write home about.  Long runs are good but week day runs are your bread and butter as a runner.  That’s where your conditioning and strength get developed and help you through your races.  With mine having gone down, I had some doubts.

My last long run before the race I ran really well and had no issues.  This gave me the confidence boost and let me know that I could run this race. My goal was to walk away injury free and with possibly another PR under my belt.  Would that happen with my decreased miles and training? Only way to find out was to suck it up and do it.

So begins the saga of The Race That Shouldn’t Have Been.

Indicator #1: Lori called me Friday night to tell me she wouldn’t be able to come up.  She had been battling a cold for some time which turned out to be bronchitis.  Then she caught something else on top of that!  Not racing was the best decision.  This bummed me out because I wanted to see her but I wouldn’t have run in her position either.  I totally understood.

Indicator #2: My race routine goes like this:

  • A week before the race, cut out all and any alcohol.
  • Eat as clean as possible.
  • Taper.
  • Stuff my face the night before the race.
  • Get plenty of rest.

The week leading up to this race, all of that went out the window.  I probably had a glass of this and a sip of that all week long except for Friday and Saturday night.  I did eat really clean so that’s a plus.  I tapered alright, so that’s a plus too.

Stuff my face and get plenty of rest?  Didn’t happen.

Saturday Scott and I headed over to the Expo to pick up my packet and to meet Heather quickly since she and family just got in town.  I had a huge bowl of oats for breakfast but never ate lunch.  I wasn’t hungry and then we were at the expo most of the afternoon so there was no chance to eat.  After the expo we went grocery shopping, after that was over, I finally started to get hungry.

This was dinner time.  Whoops!  I had dinner, then I had an apple, and then I had a pita with PB.  I hoped for the best that this would give me enough fuel to race.

I headed to bed early but slept like crap because I had big time butterflies.  Five AM came really quickly and when I woke up I was starving.

Not a good sign.

Normally, early in the morning, it’s all I can do to choke down some food.  Waking up starving? Trouble.  I had two large pieces of oatmeal bread with PB and honey.  I hoped I would be okay.

Indicator #3: I like to get to races with plenty of time for me to use the potty, Scott to take some prerace pictures, and me to line up at the start.

The plan for this race was to possibly meet up with Heather for some pictures and then line up for the start. I was going to try and catch up to her since I was in the corral behind her.  We didn’t leave for the race until late and the exit for downtown was all backed up along the highway.

I was going to be late.

I didn’t get to see Heather and there are no before the race pictures except for the one above as I’m trying to hurry to the start line.  The only upside is that I didn’t have to wait in line to use the potty only because every one else had started the race.

I started the race at the very back of the pack.

Indicator #4: I didn’t dress properly for the weather conditions.

I thought it was going to be cold, and then when I was outside for Rocky’s morning potty run it was warmer than I thought.  I knew once the sun fully came up it would be even warmer.  I decided to wear capris and a long sleeved shirt.  I brought a sweatshirt to wear to the race and after.

I went against my gut instinct telling me that downtown would be colder and windier.  I thought it would be alright.

Wrong.  I was freezing when I got downtown and it was very windy. My teeth were chattering uncontrollably.   I had to keep my sweatshirt with me because I was so cold.   I knew this would become problematic though because eventually I was going to have to fight with it.

(I’m in the white hat, fuschia top, black capris right behind this chick in the pink)

The first section of the race I was battling just trying to climb my way out of the back of the pack and get some leg room to be able to run my pace.  After about two miles in, I knew I had to ditch the sweatshirt.  I had to stop to tie it around my waist.  I didn’t zipper it first, just tied it and started running.

Then I had to stop AGAIN because the zipper kept smacking me in the leg.  Yeah I’m not about to put up with that for 13 miles, thanks.  I fixed it and was on my way.  If you know me, then you know I hate stopping when running.  It messes up my rhythm and takes me a while to recover.   I make exceptions for water breaks but that’s it.  Having to deal with a sweatshirt that I shouldn’t have been dealing with anyway was frustrating.

Trying to run out of a large pack of people who are all clustered together was also frustrating.  I bumped into and was bumped by so many people I eventually just got numb about it.  No use spending energy being upset right?  Focus on getting out of the pack.  Sometimes I could go in the middle but found that if I stayed to the far left, I could pass people a lot easier and have a lot less obstacles.

Bonus? Getting to high five some spectators!

I did alright but I never really got out of the pack or found my real pace.  I also never saw Heather.  I looked for her as I was coming up on people but never saw her.

Indicator #5: Scott is the planner in the family.  Even for my races.  I don’t even look at the course map.  I just go and everything is a surprise.  Scott pours over course maps, the alloted parking areas, plans the route to and from the race.  And tells me where we will meet up again during the race.

None of that happened for this race.  I knew nothing and didn’t even know if I would see him again.

I looked for him every time I saw a large crowd of spectators but I never thought I would find him since my main focus was, say it with me, breaking outta the pack.

But then I saw him, YaY!!  That was a great surprise!  He was between miles 8 and 9.  So you can see, even this far in the race I’m still trying to break free.

I did alright running wise.  Nothing was bothering me and only occasionally I would get a side stitch for a little bit.  This happened when I had to slow down my pace because I couldn’t get around and through groups of people.  Once I was able to up my pace again and get my breathing regulated I was alright.

I took many water breaks.  In the cooler weather when I run at home, I don’t take water or walk breaks.  So when I run a 2 hour 12 miler, that’s cause I’m not stopping.  With water breaks at races I know that’s going to affect my time some and I’m okay with that.  I didn’t expect to take as many water breaks as I did but I listened to my body and it’s needs.  I was already asking it to do something on low fuel, the least I could do was keep it hydrated, right?

The Columbus Marathon was great with their water stations, there was one what seemed like almost every mile but it I think it was actually at every other mile.  My only suggestion is not to use plastic cups for water because racers need to be able to pinch the cups so water doesn’t run down our faces.

There were bands and music along the entire course which helped keep us motivated, entertained, and moving.

The music and the spectators were the best parts.  The spectators were great giving lots of high fives, cheering, and sporting funny signs.

Around the mile 10 mark, I was very thankful there were only three miles left before I was done.  Because I was ready to BE DONE.

I was also starting to fad a bit and started to panic just a tad.  Because I had nothing on me.  No fuel because I don’t fuel during runs.  Longer than a half?  I would need to fuel but for a half I do not.  Because, you know, I fuel up well the day before.

Ahem.

I had no idea what I was going to do.  No way was I going to attempt a GU from an aid station because I had no idea how that would react on my stomach.  I assumed not well.  I didn’t want a Gatorade since it has HFCS and I don’t care for sports drinks in general but thought that might be my only choice by this point.

Then some amazing guy was standing on the side with a big plate of gummie bears for the runners.

Savior!

Gummie bears I’ve had before and used for fuel.  Gummie bears would not upset my stomach.  Gummie bears would get me through this race.

Next stop was a water station where I had some water and then headed home towards the finish.

When I saw the mile 12 marker, I trucked it.  I knew I had it in me to give it my all for the last mile and I busted out.

Then I hit it.  The huge hill that’s at the end of the half portion.  Okay, what?  I don’t know why, but this seems common here, to put big hills in at the end of the race.  This race already had it’s fair share of hills that I powered through like a champ.  But this one at mile 12?  I had to slow down a tad.

After that it was a straight down hill run to the finish.

I figured Scott was going to be in the crowd somewhere but I did not look for him.  No my focus was on finishing this dang race and salvaging what was left of what I hoped would be a PR.

I just ran.  And RAN to the finish.

I crossed the finish line at 2:19 which for half races is a new PR.  My previous race this May, I finished at 2:25.

The finishers corral was a bit of a clustermuck.  People getting their medals, stopping for pictures, and then people jamming up the lines for food.  I try not to get annoyed but you know how it goes.

I was tired, cold, and hungry.  I wanted to find my husband, stretch, and jet.  I had no idea how he was going to see me because it was crazy crowded.  I was going to find a spot to stretch and wait till he saw me.  It didn’t take that long though before we met up!  He tracked me from the finish line!

I ran over to that lamp post so I could stretch my calves out because that last hill killed them.  You can’t tell in the picture but my lips were blue because it was dang cold!  Also?  That’s my, “Can we blow this joint and go home now?” face.  Tuck that bit of knowledge away for future reference. You might need it some day.

Closing Thoughts:

Positive:

  • I’m glad that I ran this race and that I finished this race strong.  It makes the Columbus Marathon 13.1 sweatshirt (in men’s because Second Sole didn’t have stuff like that for women. Just pointing that out.) I bought for myself all the more rewarding.
  • Plenty of water stations and potty stations throughout the entire race.  If you are ever concerned about fuel or bathrooms, this is the race for you.
  • Spectators and the bands are fun! A nice constant motivation along the way.
  • Great race to run just for fun and to run with someone.

Other Thoughts:

  • It’s a BIG race with a lot of people.  I think if you’re really trying to set a new PR or possibly get a BQ, maybe this isn’t the best race for that.  It is just too crowded with runners the entire time.  I’ve spoken with Heather who started on time, she said she had the same problem that it was very congested the entire time.  There were even places were I almost had to walk because the road got narrow and everyone was trying to squeeze through.  You don’t want that during a race!
  • No hills at the end! Come on, coordinators cut us some slack.
  • Don’t cut the bananas in half, leave them whole.  Cut in half makes them harder to peel and leaves your hands all messy.

I have lots of other thoughts but this is already long enough as it is and took me ages to write!

Congrats to all the runners because everyone did an amazing job!  Hooray!

25 thoughts on “2010 Columbus Marathon

  1. Jess says:

    Great recap, Andrea! I love how thorough and honest you were about the race, and I definitely think that anyone looking for Columbus Marathon recaps will take away some important information and advice—either about how to improve his or her own performance or how to manage larger races like this one.

    Despite the strangeness of how this race turned out, congratulations on the PR!

    • Thanks Jess! I’ve never run a race this large so I wasn’t all that prepared. Next time I’ll have the experience!
      Nicole, That’s what everyone keeps telling me. So odd! We’ll chat about running in email! :)

  2. They cut the bananas in half? LOL. Trying to save money I suppose, but then it prolly backfired as people are picky and wouldn’t want “exposed” bananas.

    Despite all the problems you encountered, it sounds like you did really well! I’m like you when it comes to looking at the course map- I prefer to be surprised with where I’m running. I’m really hoping to do another half next year, but it all depends on my stupid back which is acting up again. :(

  3. Love the recap! I read every word!

    I guess when there are 15,000 runners, we’re going to have the congestion (unless we’re running 5 minute miles!). I just wish they hadn’t put some of the water stops in those narrow streets. And I totally agree with you on the bananas!! I almost asked the girl to give me a whole one, but I just wanted to get out of there so I passed all together.

    Congrats on your PR – that’s fantastic!

    • Heather, agree! Water stops on some of those neighborhood roads were so tight!
      Brandi, it did! I’m glad I was able to still pull one out. :)
      Ginny, thanks girl!
      Lauren, Thanks! I’m not one of those people who can do a review mile-by-mile. I can’t remember that much!
      Thanks Biz!
      Stacy, totally! I might need to stick to smaller races or just race bigger races with friends for fun.
      Heidi, right?! What was up with that. And chips and cheezy poofs. Goodness!
      Amanda, it took me forever to realize what BQ meant!
      Lori, you were greatly missed! :D
      Andrea, thanks sister!
      Kilax, right? I was like, “Um, I want a whole banana, so I’m taking two, thanks.” Ha!
      Hi Marica! I wonder if a lot of people find the second half to be boring? It’s supposed to be through OSU but not many people actually care about that.
      Ali, you and I still need to get together!
      TG, I was thinking about you the whole time!
      Angela, Thank you!
      Amanda, Cold and too hot. If I had to pick, I would rather be cold but still it was uncomfortable.
      Linzi, you did amazing! I was thinking about you too! Toronto Girl up there ran the Nike Half that day! :)
      Diana, It was a spectator who was being kind and generous. :) I’m guessing either he runs or knows someone who does which made he put out some gummie bears. Thank goodness for him!
      Booshy, Uh, I haven’t gotten my invite to Colorado yet. ;)

  4. I really enjoyed the recap. Yay for your PR! Sounds like you learned a lot from this race. I find that every race, no matter the distance, is a learning experience for me, too! Congrats.

  5. Okay first, this is such a fantastic review!!! And second, I am beyond proud of you girl!!! Even when the odds were against you, you took this thing and proved just why you are a true athlete! Amazing Andrea! You truly are!!! :)

  6. Congrats on the PR! Isn’t it kinda crazy how much you’re supposed to prepare the week before a distance race? Also, I know how you feel about dealing with the crowds; it’s very frustrating when you’re trying to get into your own groove. In any case, great job and be sure to give yourself some time to rest and recover!

  7. Heidi says:

    Great recap Andrea! I also was annoyed to receive half a banana, and wasn’t impressed with how much non-nutritious post-race food they had. I’m not a person who can stop running and eat a Krispy Kreme donut. But it was a very fun race, and I’m still amazed that I finished! I just started running a year ago.

  8. Congrats on the PR Andrea! You are fabulous.

    I bet you wanted to hug that gummie bear man! How nice of him. I worry about the HFCS in Gatorade and have never had GUs so I wouldn’t have know what to do either.

    I also had no clue what BQ meant until today. Man, I can only imagine how crowded the race was.

    I’m looking forward to your post about not running fulls. You’ve got me thinking! Especially about fueling during runs. I have tummy issues and can barely eat before a run or else I get REALLY sick. I worry about needing to fuel more as I start training for longer distances.

  9. That dude with the gummy bears rocks! Too cool. Congrats on your PR, Andrea! I’m proud. I’m also so incredibly bummed that I missed out. Despite the crowds, this is exactly the kind of race I need to get through a half. My first one was agony because it was so small with no spectators because of the rain.

    Despite missing the final event due to these stupid germs I picked up ;), I related to what you said about things being off. Even before I got sick, I felt the same way about this race. My week day runs were sucking, my diet wasn’t what it was for my first half and everything just felt off like you said.

    I’m so glad you stuck with it and pushed through. You did a great job! Be proud! :)

  10. Is anyone ever really prepared for races?! I have never read a race recap where everything was planned ahead and went perfectly. Races are just one big unknown clustermuck :)
    Congrats on you PR Andrea – I love how far you’ve come with your running!

  11. Congrats on the PR! It sounds like this was not a fun race and the odds were stacked against you, but you finished great!

    Ditto on the banana thing. Give me a whole fricking banana!

  12. Woohoo for a PR!!! You rocked it!!!! :)

    As for the hunger thing – I had the same thing happen. Honestly, I usually don’t worry much before my long runs. I eat how I usually eat and I’m generally pretty okay. But during the race I was starving!!!!

    And right near the finish (when my hunger was at its peak) there was a family grilling meat. Dude, I wanted to run off the course and grab a steak! lol

  13. so a pr is always exciting, but more so when you enjoy the day. sorry it wasn’t the best race. i’m like you though I HATE being cold, don’t care if I’m sitting or running it just makes me miserable

  14. Great job for you. I didn’t know they had guys serving gummi bears at races, and half bananas? Sounds like it was tough, but rewarding and usually that’s how it works.

  15. Congrats!! That’s an incredible finish time!!! And gummy bears…hmmmm…never considered that as fuel before but I do LOVE them!

    Congrats again! Great job!

  16. Just now catching up with your race report. Where on earth did they find a hill in Columbus? I remember one downtown they threw into my very first race, the Susan G. Komen 5K Race for the Cure in 1999.

    It’s so hard when your race week gets off track. I had the same thing happen before my marathon this spring, complete with my friend and her VERY competitive husband staying with us and their toddler screaming and waking me up in the middle of the night.

    Glad you finished with a PR! Nice to know that Columbus can support a marathon of that size. Maybe I should try it for a FLAT course for a change!

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