I decided to do the Columbus Marathon before I competed at IMoo, because I was lucky enough to win a free entry through Racevine. Even if I hadn't won an entry, I can honestly say that it would have been well beyond worth the entry fee. I'll get to that later.
I drove down from Houghton to Monroe on Friday and had dinner with my mom, sister, their kids, my grandparents, and my uncle. My mom made mostaciolli and had some rice pasta and sauce left for me. Delicious! I slept in... not too late... and went shopping for interview clothes in the morning with my cousin after playing with my nephew, Seth. I headed to Columbus around 1230pm, and missed my exit off I75. That tacked on about an hour to my drive, but I made it down to Kendra and Tom's by 430pm and we went to the expo.
The expo was much bigger than any other expo I'd been to before. I thought Lincoln National Guard's was big, but I guess this is what I get when I race against 15,000 competitors! We picked up our packets, bibs, D-tags, and race shirts, and bought a couple packs of orange burst Gu from a running shop (I had left my Honey packets at home). Then, we stopped at Whole Foods to grab some dinner and headed back to their house. I took my frozen pizza from Whole Foods with me over to my cousin's (Jenny) place and met her 3-month old baby, Sophia, for the first time! So cute. After eating, I went back to Kendra's, went for a quick run, and got ready for the morning. I was in bed by 930, and slept like a baby. A happy baby.
I woke up before my alarm, which was nice. Halfway through the night, the vial of concentrated Nuun that I had made for race day exploded. I used an old tube of Nuun filled with water and put one tablet of Kona Kola in it. I let it sit out for about an hour before putting the cap on it when I went to bed, but apparently that wasn't long enough. I woke up to a loud "POP!" at 2am and then had a dream that the Nuun spilled all over Kendra's dresser. Luckily, that didn't really happen, but the top did explosively pop off and hit the ceiling. No damage was seen.
After I woke up, I ate a bowl of cereal, drank some nuun, and packed my race food. My race food was a bulging wad of fruit snack that was a little cumbersome in my shorts pocket. I would remedy this later... I took in some caffeine so I didn't get a headache, especially since I hadn't weened myself off caffeine whatsoever. [I don't think I will ever do the "weening" thing again, after having a terrible race in Lincoln in May]
We got in the car and headed to the race around 630, and it was about four blocks to the race start. We stopped by the Convention Center for a bathroom pitstop before heading to the race start, and then hit the portapotties one last time when we arrived. I threw my bag in the big truck (that was really convenient) and Kendra and I headed to find a spot between the 3:20 and 3:30 pace groups.
The race started on time, and I crossed the starting line about a minute after the race clock started. The first mile was relaxed, slow, weaving around people, 7:57. Slower than I wanted, but I tried to stay relaxed. Kendra made a comment that there were something like 40-50 bands along the course, and we started to see and hear them rather quickly. Every major intersection had someone playing an instrument. It was distracting, which was a good thing.
The start was the most crowded start I've experienced yet, with 15,000 runners (half marathoners and marathoners started at the same time). Eventually, the crowd cleared a little and I could see the 3:20 pace group ahead and we stuck behind it at a constant distance for the a few miles. Kendra and I hung at 7:31 for mile 2. Where I wanted to be, but I also knew that I had to pick off 20seconds from the slow first mile. I paid attention to my breathing, and mile 3 had some downhill, so we rolled out our third mile at 7:21. I tried to keep the next three miles right at 7:30s, but the speed varied depending on turns and crowds. We eventually caught up to and got around the 3:20 pace group and I felt good being ahead of the crowd because I could see the road and the race in front of me. However, the pace group did a great job of blocking the wind. Win some, lose some, I suppose! I took some chews exactly at 30minutes and stuffed my food in my sports bra (my shorts pocket kept spilling its contents, and having chews in my underwear was not the most comfortable feeling).
Eventually, Kendra and I split up (around the 10K) and I comfortably sat at 7:20-25s until the half. I felt good and ate some more of my chews. I tried to not let my 12th mile get too fast because of all the half marathoners passing me, so I ate the rest of my chews and was smiling as I ran through the spectator-lined main street. Once the half marathoners split off, the road cleared even more, and it just got quiet. The music bands were a great distraction again. I caught up with a guy exiting the portapotty and we secured the 7:30s for a few miles. There were a few gradual uphills between miles 15-18. I decided to turn it up a notch to see what I could do, and I increased my turnover. My mile 17 was a little fast (7:06), but I didn't know it at the time because I missed my split. I knew it was faster, but I thought that it wasmaybe a 7:15. Then, I started to feel a mini bonk coming over me, and I quickly reached for my rescue Gu in my shirt pocket. I felt the bonk mostly as a factor for my legs and head, aerobically I still felt great. The bonk disappeared and I was on track for a 3:15. Mile 18 was back on to 730s, but I then started to feel a twinge in my hamstring as I started mile 19. I tried to focus on running upright, forward, using my arms. The pain would subside, but then I think I would lose my form again, and the pain would return. I started to develop a limp, and it hurt to push off with my left foot. My stride shortened substantially, and I started to fall apart.
I struggled to keep my pace at 8s. When I would recuperate my form, and look at my GPS, I was around 740min/miles. But, thirty seconds later when I started to slouch, the pain would return and I was running 8:15s. At mile 20, I thought to myself that I could still run a 50min 10K and PR. I am not sure if this thought spoiled my race, but while I was running, I was in pain. I knew that I needed to keep moving forward and that the 6.2miles would be over before I knew it. And they were.
Rolling into the finish felt good because the last 1/4 mile was all downhill. I felt my adductor muscles tighten as soon as I crossed the line, but it felt good to be done. My time was 3:19:51, which is 2 minutes, 20seconds faster than my previous best (my first marathon; Napa Valley).
Mentally, I think I have work to do on my last 10K. Also, I wore my ST3s, and although they made me feel fast for the first 20miles, I wonder if they just weren't enough support for the 26.2. That thought crossed my mind too, and I probably started to make excuses for myself during the race without realizing it. I thought: "Had I worn my Trances, I might not have biomechanically fallen apart." I was really happy with how I did, though, and I felt good even though I didn't quite make my ultimate goal of 3:15. My clothing was perfect. The temperature was ~35F when we started, and with all the people, I avoided the cool breeze and kept warm. I wore gloves until around mile 19, and kept my longsleeve on the whole time. I was comfortable temperature wise the whole time.
The race was phenomenal. The music was a great part of the race atmosphere. The spectators were awesome, and the other people racing were very encouraging. Not too many people wearing iPods, which I found to be a relief. When I crossed the finish line, I was immediately given a space blanket and medal (really cool "spinner" medal with color paint on it). I then got a finisher's hat (fleece) and was corralled to the massage room. Although the massages were disappointing, it was nice to be able to sit around. I went to get my pre-race clothes bag and it was really easy to find. I put on a few layers, found Kendra and Tom, and then we left to get lunch from PF Changs.
What I wore:
Brooks Podium shorts
Brooks PR T
Brooks Equilibrium long sleeve top
Brooks runner PED socks
Brooks Run Happy hat
Cheap (99cent) cotton gloves
What I ate:
Pre race: Envirokids Panda Puffs (a bowl-full, plus a handful, so probably 2-3 cups), 2tablets of Kona Kola Nuun (caffeine) in 1liter water
Race: 2 packets of Honey Stinger chews, Pomegranate and Mixed Fruit (I emptied two packets in saran wrap), 1 Orange burst Gu (with caffeine), Gatorade Endurance on course after mile 17, water at every other station
New things about the race I hadn't experienced before:
-I had never used D-Tags before. Very easy to use. Just don't crease them!!
-TweetMyTime was really nice because it synced with both my Twitter and Facebook. My friends could see how I was doing at the 10K, half, 20mile, and finish!
-Lots of race photos; I didn't see many cameras out on the course, but I had six or seven photos from the race.