State #27 repeat (Ohio #2)
I swore at the beginning of 2017 that I was only going to do one marathon. Boston. That was it. Then, I would focus the back half of the year on finishing my 50 state goal. But after a race that left me feeling defeated and wanting more, the marathon blues had me eager to toe the 26.2 line one more time this year.
So, after debating between Twin Cities, Chicago, the Hartford Marathon, Detroit and Columbus, I landed on the Columbus Marathon. Molly had raved about it for years, it was a great course for a PR and BQ and it fell right in the middle of October and right on my 37th birthday weekend (how am I this old??).
I trained through a miserable southern summer, questioning why I decided to do this again. Luckily, Coach gave me a similar plan that I had for Marine Corp last year. I had lower mileage with higher intensity. Some runs seemed super tough, but I nailed the workouts feeling confident heading into the weekend.
Per my usual, I stalked the weather going into the race and realized my goal to escape the heat and humidity was following me north. Once again, I would be racing in less than ideal marathon conditions. The race usually has temps in the 40s and 50s and I would end up getting a low of 68. Luckily, I train in these conditions 75% of the year and I was hopeful this would help. (side note- all marathons that I looked at for the fall had warmer than normal temps. WHAT is going on with the weather??)
Rich and I flew into Columbus Friday morning and we were greeted with a sign and all from Molly. She was so kind to drive in from Michigan to hang for the weekend (and see her family). We went to lunch, did a little shopping and then hit up the expo before dinner.I was super surprised at the expo when the woman getting my bib took a big gasp and squealed. “It’s your birthday!!” Slightly embarrassed, the other volunteers were excited and they clapped and rang a bell. Yep, no better way than to celebrate than running 26.2, right? The Columbus marathon makes you extra special with a sticker on your packet, a pin AND a special bib to wear on race day.Saturday morning I did a 20 minute shakeout and then Rich and I walked around Columbus a bit before grabbing lunch and heading back to the hotel to chill. Molly and I went to afternoon Mass and then I cooked dinner in the hotel (chicken, baked potato and rice).
I got all of my things together and realized this was the first race since Bayshore in 2015 that I didn’t have a lot of logistics to get to the start (transportation to a start line like Boston, NYC or Marine Corp). This was going to be an easy morning!
I woke up and had my bagel and nuun, did my stretches and Rich and Molly walked me to the start line.
Coach had suggested I line up with the 3:25 pacer and try and stay just ahead of them. Normally I wouldn’t bank time, but he figured with the heat, it wouldn’t hurt to take advantage of the cooler weather before the sun came up.
The fireworks and music at the beginning gave me chills and I teared up a bit- it was time to put it all out there.Miles 1-8
I was in the first corral and felt like we spread out pretty easily. I stayed with the pace group, which I really didn’t love, but wanted to stay on the plan early. The course stayed around the downtown area for the first few miles. I wanted to get water at every aid station because I knew it would be warm and wanted to get ahead of my hydration. Unfortunately I missed the first one because the first aid station was crowded.
I missed Molly and Rich where I thought they would be but knew I would see them on my way back (out and back part of course on same road). The pacer was starting to annoy me and I felt like there was too much talking of slow down, speed up, and move to the aid station in half a mile type of talk. I couldn’t really get into a zone. I took my first huma gel at mile 5.
I did get a lot of Happy Birthdays along the way (I couldn’t not wear the bib on my back that they gave me, right??) and had a few conversations with the runners around me. I saw Molly and Rich at mile 7 and exchanged my water bottles. This marathon, I used Nuun Performance and had throwaway bottles to trade with them. They are made for my flip belt and fit perfectly and made my hydration plan work out nicely. I also tried using my glukos chews between my huma gels for extra nutrition and less sugar shock to my body. I ate one per mile or so.
I had to stop to loosen my shoe around mile 9. I had tied one shoe too tight and I knew if I didn’t adjust, I would feel it like I did in Marine Corp.
I lost the pace group, they were just ahead of me but I was okay with that. When I passed the clock I knew I was still fine and ahead of my 3:25 pace band that I was wearing. Apparently the group was running a bit fast.
I started to get in my groove and was feeling pretty good. The miles clicked by. I started to pay more attention to the patient champions….the coolest thing of the columbus marathon is that each mile is dedicated to a child who is a patient at Childrens. Each kid and their family and friends (unless they are too sick) are at their mile and have picked out a theme (super heroes, princess, dance, etc) and have decked out their station with the theme. I ate another Huma gel at my 10.
At mile 11 we ran through the blue mile- a mile dedicated to those who have lost their battle. It was incredibly inspiring.
I saw the marathon signs that split us from the half marathon and I wondered why I decided to do this again. Man, another 13.1 to go. I saw Rich and Molly and traded out my bottle again.Miles 14-19
The group thinned. A LOT. We were headed out again and ran through the Short North district towards the Ohio State campus. I could tell I wasn’t on my A game and wasn’t feeling super strong.
I called Rich (this has become such a bad habit) and told him I felt like shit.
“Stick with it. Make to mile 21 when Molly will join you,” I told myself. I ate another Huma Gel at mile 15. I was hot. Each aid station I drank water and dumped some on my head. The head wind picked up even more when we got towards campus and there were times I didn’t feel like I was moving. There weren’t as many spectators and it was a bit lonely. People around me were starting to walk.
Molly warned me the most miserable mile was along a path and she was right. It was sunny, and there was more of a climb here. I passed the pacer. She had apparently had a rough day and dropped her sign and left the group.
The crowds picked up around mile 20 (another Huma gel) and we ran through a fun neighborhood. Molly and Rich soon appeared! I was SO thankful to have her with me. I told her I was miserable and I wanted to walk.She didn’t let me. She talked me through the next two miles and all I kept saying was how badly I needed to pee. She held my nuun bottle, got me additional water cups and kept me moving. Finally, at mile 23 I stopped to pee. I felt SO much better. I knew I could make it 3 more miles. I had to.It was one foot in front of the other. I swear it felt like I had picked up the pace but when I looked down I realized I really hadn’t. It was so windy (later learned it was over 20mph winds). My PR was long gone but I knew I would BQ. There were a ton of people walking around me and I knew I wasn’t the only one that was having a tough day. I kept begging to walk and Molly talked me off the ledge.
We made it back towards the downtown area and as we approached the finish she broke off so I could run my race in. I stayed close to a guy and we were both pushing each other. It was what I needed. I kept looking for Rich and didn’t seem him until I was truly into the finishers chute area. He was so excited and so proud (I later found out he thought I crushed my PR and that was why he was screaming so much).
I crossed the line exhausted. Thrilled. Sad. Overwhelmed. The tears flowed. The man next to me thanked me and I thanked him. I was done.
Race ResultsGarmin Results
Looking at my splits I was pretty inconsistent and wish I would’ve run my own race at the beginning instead of getting caught up with the pace group. It seemed like a smart thing to do because of the heat but since she was struggling it obviously didn’t work out the way I needed it to. Part of me should’ve known better!
I hobbled along through the finishers are and drank a water pretty quickly. I had my picture taken, grabbed food and went to find Molly and Rich. I wanted to ring that PR gong but unfortunately, it wasn’t my day. Molly ran off to find the BQ pin for me and I hobbled along to try and rehydrate and eat a little bit. We made our way back to the hotel and packed up. Rich and I grabbed lunch and walked around the Short North again before heading to the airport to fly home. I didn’t love flying after a marathon, but was glad to be in my own bed once we finally got home. Bling
I LOVE this medal. It looks just like the fireworks at the start of the race. They also give you a BQ pin if you get your qualifier at the race. I also really like the race shirt- it all has the same theme and look.Travel Tips
- Stay downtown for ease of walking purpose to the start (no need for a rental car with this, either)
- We stayed at the Residence Inn mainly to have a kitchen for pre race cooking needs. There are a TON of options in this area.
- Go shopping in the Short North district. Great restaurants, too!
- Champions at each mile
- Great expo and post race
- Plenty of aid stations, great volunteers
- Well spectated
- Downtown start and finish for easy race day planning
Not So Much
Not a thing I can think of. Can’t change mother nature.
While the weather gods didn’t give me perfect race day weather, I must say this race was awesome. I loved everything about it and it lives up to the hype. The course had just enough hills to change up muscle use and was a great view of multiple parts of the city. I would highly recommend this marathon (or half marathon) for those racing the states. I would also recommend this for anyone looking for a fast course and a BQ or PR.I did the Flying Pig half marathon several years ago and while that was a great race, this one may get my top vote for the state. But you can’t go wrong with either one.