Wow as I sit here patiently waiting for Boston registration to open I don't even know where to begin with this race report. So many little things had to go right yesterday to add up to my race conclusion and it is just amazing how it works out sometimes. As frustrating as Boston was this year Columbus was doubly satisfying because of it. I wouldn't take it back now if I could.
I went into this race a bit quiet on my goals. While I was confident I was in shape to hit them I have never lined up my marathon goals with my short races so I didn't want to get cocky or ahead of myself. I also thought that I would likely be disappointed no matter the outcome because I knew going into the race I wasn't in shape to meet my ultimate goal for the marathon right now. I was very wrong about that!
My goal going in was 2:50 with a stretch goal of 2:48. I wanted to run my own race and just not worry about pace. I wanted to be 1:24-1:25 at the half no matter how I felt so I could give myself a chance at the goal.
I was a bit sad I couldn't run with my training partner since she was setting a more aggressive goal and I just knew deep down I wasn't ready for that pace. And I wasn't willing to risk running slower than 2:55 by being greedy. Had I run the sub 3 at Boston, maybe, but I certainly did not want to go over 3 again, and I know how quickly time can come back at you at the end of a poorly paced marathon.
So I meandered through my taper with slightly tweaked hamstrings and waited to see what the day would give me. Taking the more aggressive goal off the table left me relaxed and ready to roll. I wasn't nervous about my goal at all. I knew without a doubt I was in shape for 2:54-2:56 and just had the feeling that I was ready for better than that. Race day dawned and my legs felt super ready, weather was perfect, and I just knew it would be a good day. On my way to the elite warm up area I saw the race Director Darris and got a big hug sealing the deal for me, it just had to be a good day if you hug the race director!
NC and I got in our warm up and before you knew it we were toeing the line. I managed to find my parents and my husband and was relaxed and ready to roll out. I decided to take advantage of the elite perks and started right up front, you never know if you'll be able to do that again so I went for it. Our Second Sole team was out in full force and it was nice toeing the line with a bunch of us in the same Oregon green!
Took it out a little fast. I knew my training partner was aiming for 6:15 pace and that I wouldn't see her for long but I shouldn't be too far behind her. The first few miles flew by and for a brief instant I considered just going for it with her but I heard my trusty friends cheering me on and shouting "Patience!" to me as I requested and let her slowly move ahead along with a slew of fast half marathon women and a few other marathon women. I had checked out the names of the elites on Saturday and it looked like a lot of women with similar talents so I was solely focused on running my effort and my time and didn't want to worry about competing.
As is mostly par for the course for me I somehow got separated from people around me around mile 2 and was ready to make way by myself when I was caught by one of our training friends BY. He had just run Wineglass and was on 2:50 pace through 23 when both his hamstrings seized and he hobbled in for 3:06ish. I was happy to see him but didn't want him to hold himself back for me if he wanted to go faster. But he said he would be very happy with 2:50 and we fell in step together. We were a little fast at the point but nothing excessive. It didn't feel easy, but it felt controlled and I was willing to push a little bit if it meant having company! BY was also wearing an outrageous yellow shirt with chili peppers which made for lots of good cheering!
We fell in with another female marathoner running her second marathon and hoping for sub 2:50 as well as a Brooks runner who apparently reads my blog and likes it so much he has been doing my training! Small world. We joked about him being my stalker but for the next few miles we were all a happy group clicking off the miles as we made our way through the neighborhoods of Columbus. Each mile came and went in around 6:30 and things seemed good! At the 10k BY's wife joined in on the fun and it really did feel like it was a regular old hard training run, just with spectators and aid stations as well as my fun personal water bottles I had made up for the elite tables at 6, 12, and 18. It definitely didn't feel easy but time was passing by quickly! Before we knew it we were to mile 9 and friends and family were cheering on the sidelines. And then we were on to 12 and my next bottle and the start of double caffeine roctane Gus! The crowds here were crazy and I thought I saw my parents and David but couldn't really say. We lost MY and BY to a portalet and we forged forward now just myself and Brooks D.
Knowing the crowd would thin after 13 we eased up the incline of High street still clipping off miles around 6:30. As we arrived at the half in 1:24:17 we were suddenly joined by a bike escort and a friend of Brooks D asking what place I was in. I had no clue but had a feeling the new bike escort meant it was pretty far up. Sure enough he let me know that I was in 5th and I noticed I could see two more bike escorts in the horizon. Noted. But it was still early and from here on out in the marathon each mile can be the last one of feeling semi normal, and I know it too well so I stayed within myself as we kept clipping off the miles and slowly closed in on those bike escorts.
The day was playing out eerily similar to last years race except this year I was a minute ahead of my goal pace at the half rather than behind and we were obviously running way faster than I have ever run for the distance. I was enjoying myself, enjoying the spectators, the bands, and though we didn't talk much I was glad for the company. Around mile 16 there is a brief out and back where you can see those ahead of you and then those behind. I was thrilled to see we were getting close to #3 and #4 and as we made our way to 17 it was nice to note there were no women close behind. Though we did see BY and I was glad to see he was making up time from the pit stop!
I remembered struggling a bit with this section last year and that the pace had slowed a bit and it felt harder. I warned Brooks D of this and mentally prepared for a couple of slow miles. But I knew I was getting my bottle and gel at mile 18 and I knew my family planned to be between 18 and 20 so that kept my spirits up despite a few slower miles. Unfortunately as we neared 19 just like last year I lost my new friend. I was getting really close to the next two women now and despite trying to remain within myself I was definitely urged forward by getting by them and trying to finish top 3. I encouraged #4 as I passed at mile 19. And as I saw my family just before mile 20 I started to close in on #3. Getting to 20 is always a great thing in a marathon. That means it's 10k time. That 10k can go by quickly or it can go by slowly, but you know you are getting so much closer!
I encouraged #3 to go with me, she is the sister of another great Ohio runner and I knew her goal was similar to mine. As I passed by each girl the bike escorts would change. So I now had the #3 escort and she was great. I joked with her and she commented on how great I looked. Nothing like someone blowing sunshine at you at the end of a marathon! I didn't want to push too hard here, I remembered last year getting a little carried away from 20 to 23 and slowing down from 23-26. I really didn't look at the watch much and just kept pushing forward enjoying the spectators, waving when I could, thanking volunteers, and even jamming to some of the tunes. Mile 24 a band was playing Foo Fighters which always reminds me of my husband and it definitely got me moving.
My bike escort informed me that she would let me know if she saw the bike for #2. I told her let's not worry about that and let's just have fun. At the time I assumed #1 and #2 were my training partner and the lady I had met at Spirit of Columbus from TNT. I knew they both had the goal of 2:46 and I told my bike escort I really didn't want to see them, because I wanted them both to get the 2:46 and OTQ. No one deserved it more than them and I was hopeful they were getting it done! A bit before 25 a spectator shouted didn't we just see you and I knew that meant my training partner was still up there. I was hoping at least 4 minutes ahead. I saw a few local friends here and it was just nice to see people I knew as I worked my way to the finish.
As I turned down the familiar streets it was still eerily similar to last year. I was relaxed and I knew sub 3 was mine no matter what happened and was confident of 2:50. But then as I neared mile 25 my heart broke as I watched my training partner weave back and forth across the street. I encouraged her to come with me so we could finish together, but she told me she couldn't do it. Her family was just ahead and I encouraged them to get her back in the game. I didn't know what was wrong, but I know exactly how that must have felt as the same thing had happened to me at Boston this year when I was caught by multiple friends in the final miles. If I could change anything about the day it would have been her result. She struggled with the final 3 miles and still managed a 3 minute PR, but the result does not reflect her fitness or her strength and hard work and she deserved a more rewarding day. I know she is probably disappointed but I am so proud of her and I know she will go on to do some amazing things in the marathon (This was only her 2nd one at age 25!)
I knew that if it was me I would want her to finish strong and I went by and hoped that she would rally. The crowds became insane after this and though my body was sore and my gait wasn't fluid I was grinning ear to ear as I made my way to the finish. Thankfully my math skills are poor and I didn't realize I had slowed down a bit despite passing runners, but once I made that final turn and saw that I could squeak in under 2:50 I hauled ass down towards the finish and threw my hands in the air in celebration. 2:49:53. The sub 3 monkey off my back and somehow coming in 2nd place amongst a field of great women. (Note that the half marathon field was stacked and probably 13 of those women ran better races than I did in the full) But for me it was the perfect day, the perfect race, and my best effort to date. I ran with confidence, I had fun, and I truly raced the marathon. I had friends and family to share it with on the way and the streets of Columbus were full of volunteers and spectators urging me on to my finish. It really was amazing. And I couldn't be happier with it, even if it had been 2:46.
Lucky number 20 and number 3 at Columbus was apparently the charm. I just could not have asked for a better venue, a better crowd, a better support team, or a better effort from myself.
Now if the BAA site would just work so I could sign up for Boston in the hopes of having another day like this in April!