Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Columbus Marathon

To claim this:  GHSU5TSEU99M
This past weekend I ran my 15th marathon.  I chose Columbus for this marathon because it would give me the chance to hang out with a bunch of my friends who don't live near me.  As a bonus, it was the same weekend as the marathon a lot of my local friends were training for so our training schedules would coordinate.  Some marathons I sign up for are goal races, meaning I am training to try to run a new personal best time there, and some races are just fun runs. I went into Columbus intending it to be a goal race, unless the weather looked like a good race would not be possible.  Looking at long range forecasts as the race drew nearer, the predicted temps looked close to ideal, probably overcast (also a good thing), low chance of rain, but possible high winds, which could be a problem.

I was looking forward to hanging out with my friends for the weekend but getting a bit nervous about trying to run a fast race.  My stated goal was to try to break 3:20, which would mean I would have to average 7:37 per mile.  I still haven't wrapped my head around the idea that my body can run under 8 minute miles for that long.  Until last November my best pace for a marathon was 8:13 per mile.  I still remember when I first ran faster than 8 minute miles for a 10k (6.2 miles) not that many years ago.  But, my times have gotten a lot quicker since I was injured a little less than 2 years ago.  I had put some of my recent race results for shorter races into a pace predictor,  and they said times a few minutes faster than my goal were possible which made me feel a little more confident.

Race morning Abby and I drove into the city from our friend Kristina's house to meet up with our friends before the race.  Without too much trouble we found parking and headed to the meet up spot.  Just as we started to walk away from the car, I remembered to take my immodium ( it really helps my stomach during races and hard runs).  Where we met had real toilets, so we all used them before heading out to the start.  As we headed to the corrals we passed some port-o-potties with minimal lines, so we made one more stop.  Getting into the corrals was easy, and it wasn't terribly crowded.  There was a live band playing as we waited for the start, which was nice.  As the time drew closer Amy and Kari took off their throwaway warm clothes and I dropped my mylar blanket.  It was a little chilly waiting, which boded well for a comfortable running temp.  The wind was blowing a bit, but nothing like it had the day before.  We were just about ready to go.

The national anthem was sung and the gun went off, followed by a decent little display of fireworks.  It was a chip timed race, but I decided to start my watch when the gun went off rather than when I crossed the start line.  I did watch the clock as I approached the start line to see about how long it took me to get across, I noted a little over 30 seconds.  Time to get moving, but not too fast.  My plan was to try to run a negative split, meaning I wanted to run the second half of the race faster than I had run the first half. So I had decided to try to run the first 6 miles slower than goal pace then try to settle in.  I was looking for 7:50, 7:50, 7:45, 7:45, 7:40, 7:40, then down to around 7:32.  I decided to use a different screen on my garmin (the gps watch I wear which keeps track of pace, distance...) and had it showing average lap pace to try to keep things where I wanted them.  According to the marathon tracking I averaged 7:43 for the first 10k, I'd say I was pretty close to the pacing I was looking for.

I like talking to people as I run, so I struck up a conversation a few times.  There was a tall girl I was near for a bit of the first couple miles who had a pace band on, so I asked her what she was shooting for.  She was looking for a 1:40 half, so I said I would be willing to work together with her for it since I wanted to come through the half at about that time.  We ran together for a couple miles through some really pretty upscale neighborhoods.  It was her first half marathon, she had run in college.  After a couple of miles, she was picking up the pace a little more than I wanted to, so I let her go.  Mile 7 was still a little slower than pace, so I just concentrated on getting the pace down for mile 8 and beyond.  In the next mile or so, I ran for a little bit with a guy hoping for a 3:20.  But again, he wanted to pick up the pace before I was ready to, so I let him go.  There were a couple other ladies that I ran with for a little while, but our paces didn't line up for long, so mostly I ran by my self.  A little after mile 9 Kristy and Kim were out cheering for us.  Then just shortly after that I had a hair malfunction, one of my barrettes slipped out of my hair.  At least I still had the small clip in the front that kept the hair out of my eyes.  Around mile 10 I caught up with the girl who was looking for the 1:40 half, she seemed to have slowed down a bit.  I saw Kim and Kristy again a little before the 13 mile mark, it was nice to have people I knew out there cheering.  I came through the half in 1:40:08, the miles between the 10k and the 1/2 were a 7:35 pace, very happy to be just slower than half of what I wanted to run.

I was feeling very good at halfway through.  I started to let myself speed up a little, and started talking to a guy who was hoping for around a 3:20, but didn't think he had trained for that.  We had a couple good miles before he decided I was going a little too fast for him.  I was still paying attention to my average pace, but around mile 17 my garmin said the lap database was almost full (I had just emptied some of the older records before the race, but I guess that wasn't enough) so I had to switch back to my normal display screen.  There were clocks at each mile marker, so as I passed each I would figure out how much faster I was going than 8 minute pace.  I knew that if I got my time to 10 minutes total below the time an 8 minutes pace would yield, that I would finish in under 3:20.  It was satisfying to realize that my average pace kept dropping,  by mile 20, my average pace was faster than I needed to get my goal.  The miles between the half and 20 were 7:31 pace.

I was still feeling pretty good, time for the last 10k.  I tried to pick it up a little more.  Every once in a while we turned into the wind, but fortunately we always turned out of it quickly.  After we hit the halfway point, very few people passed me. I kind of targeted the women in front of me to see if I could catch up.  During the race I had taken gels at mile 5, 10, and 15, then started taking one shot block every 2 miles around mile 18.  I was carrying a hand bottle of water that I would sip on as I needed, and I took probably 6 or so cups of gatoraid from aid stations (and walked for a few steps as I drank).  I also had used Ultra Fuel before the race, 7 scoops in 32 ozs of water 3 hours before the start.  I think my fueling was good and my hydration.  I still felt pretty good going into the last 5k, so again I tried to pick it up a little.  I was starting to get weary, counting down the minutes until the finish.  Less than 20 minutes, less than 15, less than 10, I can keep pushing.  Then Kristy pops up running right next to me.  She told me I was looking strong, maybe could even go 3:16 or 3:17, to which I said it would be 3:18 based on when I had passed the mile markers.  I got to find out from her how well Abby had done and that Amy, Kari, and Chris were all running well.  I asked her how much farther it was until the downhill, so she described what I had left.  She ran with me, encouraging me until just before the finish shoot.  I gave all I had to get across the line and finished in 3:17:47.  Such a good race.  That last section was run at a 7:24pace.

After getting through the finish shoot I found Amy's husband Todd and Abby.  We talked about how our races had gone and anxiously waited for the others to finish.  I headed over to the port-o-potties rejoicing that  I hadn't needed a stop during the race.  As I walked back, I ran into Amy and Kari who had both run really good races.  I brought them to where Todd and Abby were waiting.  We all got to celebrate a wonderful race.  The course is relatively flat with some roll to it.  I think it was just right, just enough change in elevation to keep my legs feeling fresh.  I am so happy with how that race went, my plan worked, the weather was good, a nice 2+ minute negative split.  

I'll write about how I started running in a later post.  Thank you for reading about my race.

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