Oct 21, 2009

2009 Columbus Marathon

In April/May my goal for this race would have been a sub-3. On the heels of Boston I finally convinced myself that I am a sub-3 marathoner and there should be no excuse to run anything over 3 hours on a course like Columbus. Unfortunately, I lost focus and maintaining a sub-3 level of fitness became less of a priority. Nonetheless, in order to achieve one of my long-term running goals, I planned for a fall marathon (second marathon of the year). With this said, I wanted to avoid running a marathon just to run a marathon. I needed a goal. Enter long time running friend Elizabeth. She has made huge strides in her running over the past 6-8 months and was setting her sites on a new PR at Columbus. For anyone running faster than 3:10-3:15 pace, this course can be very challenging from a mental standpoint. The half-marathoners drop off after 13 miles and it's practically no-mans land until the finish. In my previous two races at Columbus, a buddy on my shoulder would have made things so much easier.

Race day conditions were good. Not ideal, but good. The temperature in the morning was roughly 34°F. I wore shorts, arm warmers underneath long-sleeve under armor heat gear with a singlet over the under armor. I also had on gloves and a winter running/racing hat. I never felt overly chilled but I never really warmed up. Elizabeth had provided me in detail her plan for the day: start slow, fall into a consistent pace by mile 3, hold a steady pace until mile 21-22, maintain or increase pace over the final 4-5 miles.

Running with Liz provided me a different marathon experience than I’m used to. People were eager to talk to us (her). At times it seemed as though guys were making stuff up. Like this one guy who said, “You guys ran this race last year, didn’t you?” Maybe this guy was sincere and truly thought we looked familiar, but as we blew by him, it seemed a cheesy attempt to spark conversation. One of Liz’s directives was to keep her mouth shut, which she did a good job of… for the most part. There was a time or two when she got a little too chatty with other runners and I had to decide how to intervene. I could have told her to zip it… or I could have told the other runners to shut up because she needs to conserve as much energy as possible, but that would have been really lame… I decided the best way to minimize the small talk was to insert myself between her and anyone we were running with at the time. This seemed to work! With that said, some of the conversation with other runners was great. We single handedly helped ‘Eric’ to a new half-marathon PR and enjoyed hearing about his plans to qualify for Boston.

Battling headwinds was a bit of a challenge throughout the day… must have been a Northwest wind because running east and south was a breeze. The other battle we faced was getting through “boring” sections of the course, especially those late in the race (after 18 miles). Fortunately it was at this point when we noticed one of the female runners who passed us early on slowly coming back to us. As we steadily gained on her, Liz commented how she hoped to pull her with us, which I thought was extremely good-natured and a great display of sportsmanship.

Between mile 19 and 20 I could feel my calves wearing down and the pace was becoming uncomfortable. I didn’t know how much longer I could hold out and was relieved when Liz began making comments like, “Now’s the time when I get strong” or “time for a little 10k race action”. I think it was just shy of mile 21 when my lack of fitness caught up to me and like Leo in Titanic, I let go and watched a very determined gal surge ahead in complete control of her race. For a mile or so I could still see her ahead and managed a slight smile each time she passed someone.

My race became dramatically different at this point. I immediately backed off the pace, which was a relief both mentally and physically. I was getting passed right and left but was also doing a fair amount of passing. With no concern for my own time, I did what I could to help those who were struggling, telling them how amazing the downhill finish is… all the people, balloons, brick-lined street, etc. This was also keeping my mind off of my cramping right quad. Around mile 25 I snagged 2-3 chocolate covered buckeyes being offered by volunteers. Being all too aware of the carnage on the course at this point in a marathon, I couldn’t help but smile as I made a final push towards mile 26. After all, only a marathoner could find humor in subjecting ones body to such distress. Hit the finish line in 3:14:36. Liz never faltered and realized her goal with a solid 3:05:57 (1-second negative split).

I’m extremely happy with yet another marathon finish (#14) and thankful for my family for supporting me in this ridiculous hobby of mine! It was great coming home to hugs and kisses from Teresa, Caden and Cole. My training may go up and down but their love is constant!

OU Alums Reunited before start

Early in the race - Liz still has zebra gloves on

Nearing the finish - Cole and Caden protecting my knees

5 comments:

E-Speed said...

great report Brian! It was fun to read this from your perspective!

It was so nice to share the day with you!

Mark said...

Great report, congrats on #14..wow!

The Salty One said...

What a great friend and a great race all things considered!

DaisyDuc said...

Glad to see you could be there for Elizabeth! Way to hang in there strong! The boring parts coupled with the uphill grade was the worst...that said I enjoyed the race and will probably do it again soon!

Mr_Wolly said...

carpe diem...SEIZE D DAY...!?

awesum...congrats..

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