Be warned this is a long post – but I make no apologies for that – I’ve been 4 months in training and a great accomplishment. (I do however apologise for the extra dose of estrogen when my finishing line post contained too much squeeeeee. There were a lot of female runners around and I think it transferred to me)
I had got all of my stuff ready on Fiday night (as I lead an exciting life like that), and pinned the bib to the tshirt. As I had been up early the day before I knew that 6am was going to be warm enough to not require any extra trousers or jumpers over the running gear so I now have a new sweatshirt to wear
The day of my first Marathon started early, far too early at 4am when I woke up before the alarm.
I rolled over to see what the time was and enjoyed the extra 30 minutes before the alarm went off. What I don’t understand is how Basil hears me wake up and then yelps outside the door at 4 in the morning – ugh – not what you want to hear.
Anyway, a quick shower, breakfast, coffee, check email and facebook and I was heading downtown at 5.40am
The guide had said that we would need to be in the corrals by 740 for the 8am start and that they recommended getting there an hour before then. However if *everyone* got there at 6.40 the traffic would be a nightmare so I figured I’d get there early and just people watch before the start of the race.
6am on the dot I arrive at Columbus Commons downtown. Some of the roads had already been blocked off but there were very few people around. I scored a parking spot right by the exit of the parking garage so it would be easy to get out. Got everything together and wandered through the commons.
It was a really nice morning out – a bit misty/foggy/overcast but seemed to be perfect weather for running. People were scurrying around doing last minute additions and changes to the various booths and there were no lines for the portaloo’s. I took a couple of photos of the area and walked over to the finishing line and took a photo. They were in the middle of sorting out the medals on the table. Seeing all those medals on the table was pretty impressive and I knew that in a couple of hours one of them would be hanging around my neck.
6.40am I had finished my coffee and proceeded to slather myself in sunscreen- I didn’t want to get burnt during the race and the temperatures were calling for a high of 79 – probably later in the day but I wasn’t going to take any chances.
It did feel a bit weird putting on sunscreen at 6.40am in a overcast day but better safe than sorry. Dropped the bag off and headed towards the start line. As I walked past the finishing line again I got a real whiff of oranges that they were cutting up for us to eat at the end of the race. They smelt really good but I did wonder why they were cutting them up so early but with that many oranges and that many people they had to start early. The segments were then put in little ziplock bags to prevent them drying out.
Down at the start I wandered around and kept an eye out for any of the turtles from the running club. Eventually I saw Jennifer in her bright pink running shirt and Chris. It was funny meeting them for the first time even though we’d chatted on facebook as we’d prepared for this race the past 5 months.
Bill from Thursday Nights Turtle group walked past, said Hi and then headed off to the starting line to find a spot to take photos.
It took *forever* to start the race. We were told to get in the corrals at 7.30 – everyone ignored the pleas until about 7.40 but even then it took forever for the race to start. I did meet up with Heather in the Corral – of all the places to be – she ended up working her way through the Corral and stood two people away without realising I was there. I had dropped back from Corral C to D as most of the people from the running group were in group D. Whilst we were waiting in our Corrals they announced the leaders had actually passed the two mile mark – and we hadn’t even begun to move forward yet, let alone start the race.
I started the race with Chris, Heather and Jennifer and we walked for quite a while before crossing the starting line – I joked that if this was what a marathon was like, it was going to be easy. Eventually we crossed the starting line around 8.15. Heather and I immediately started out quicker than Chris and Jennifer, so I turned round, waved goodbye and headed on out.
The first couple of miles were “interesting”. We spent quite a bit of time jockeying around people as the crowd of runners moved on. The first 2 miles were accompanied by a very strange noise – at first I thought it was an army group shouting Left, Right, Left, Right as they ran down the course but eventually the noise caught up with us and it was a guy grunting aloud as he ran – apparently it’s normal behaviour for him but it must take up a lot of energy. The funniest thing was hearing it echo as we went under one of the bridges.
At the first aid stop, 1 mile into the run it was impossible to get anywhere near the water table so we kept going but I was amazed at just how many people were queuing to use the portaloos already. Heather wondered allowed if she’d ever find someone she had not met yet. She said to me “Maybe I should start saying Rebekah” loudly to see if she is nearby. Funnily enough, the girl running next to Heather turns and says “You’ve found her!”
Heather has a canny nack of finding people – a good job too we joked as it would have been really annoying to have run with Heather for 13 miles with her shouting for her friend all the time.
The first part of the race was pretty uneventful – there was a long out and back section but we weren’t turning around on the same stretch of road and running back – instead we were running on the other side of the median. At this point we heard 3 teenagers banging on the metal guardrail in a rhythm – it was quite impressive to hear it from a distance as the noise travelled down the guardrail. It turns out it was the same 3 guys who had been at the Scioto Miles run a few weeks back and they had a few different signs to hold up.
Hearing the bands along the way was pretty good, the only downside is you only got to hear about 40 seconds of each band as you ran past. About 2.5 miles into the race I tripped up and almost went flying which would have been really painful and not a fun way to start or finish the race but fortunately I stayed on my feet and as I ran to catch my balance I think I actually overtook another couple more people but its not a recommended way of overtaking people.
Each mile point had the total time since the race had started – I think by the time we got to the first mile post it was reading something like 25 minutes – 35 for the second mile – we joked how slow our average pace was.
About mile 5 I managed to lose Heather and Rebecca at the water stops so I was on my own for the rest of the race -Although I had brought my music on the phone and on my ipod I didn’t bother to plug them in – I just enjoyed listening to the bands, watching the dj’s with their apple macs and listening to the breathing and footsteps of the other runners and people watching – both the crowd and other runners were interesting to watch. There were some pretty funny signs along the way – several with slogans that seem to be popular but several unique ones. There were three that really stood out to me but unfortunately I can’t remember the last one but I do remember it was down in German Village after mile 11 as we turned onto 3rd st. The other two were “My grandmother runs faster than your Grandmother” and “If you think that’s difficult trying standing here for 2 hours holding this sign”. The dj’s were quite funny – they were really into their music and bopping their head away – I can imagine they’ll have quite a headache at the end of the race. There was one impromptu guy with a really old fashioned beat box that he was using for the sound system – I wouldnt have been suprised if he was actually using tapes for his media. The bands were very good too and definitely helped during the run. I did hear American Pie and Brown Eyed Girl twice though!
To cut a long run/story short (and because the later miles tend to blur into one) I can remember several things.
Around mile 5 we turned onto Lane avenue and headed towards the University. I felt really good at this point and was amazed to think “This is pretty easy at the moment – I’m really enjoying it and this course is so flat, there are hardly any hills”. One lady yelled out “Go Andy!” which kind of surprised me and I looked to see if I knew her – I didn’t – she’d read my name on my bib but it was cool to get that personalised attention and a shot in the arm so thank you mysterious stranger!
Heading down High St was interesting. We’re running in the road on one of Columbus’s busy streets, there are cars driving past you just to your left traveling in the same direction as you. A bit nerve-wracking as you hope they give you enough room – especially as I had the habit of overtaking people to the side of the track as there was more room. Running past a doughnut shop smelt sooooo good. Very tempting to cross the road and stop off for a couple.
Mile 8 was the Gu stop. I’d never had a GU before and picked one up as I walked through the water stop. In fact I think it would have been impossible to run through the stop and the next half a mile was really sticky with discarded Gu and packets. I ended up with a blackberry Gu packet and tried to run and read the packet instructions at the same time is not a very good idea. In the end I ripped the top off, squeezed about a third of the packet into my mouth and shuddered… It was a very sickly, sweet, gooey taste and texture and sticks to the teeth. Thankfully I had several water bottles so I was able to wash it down (which is what you are supposed to do I think?)
Mile 8.5 we merged with the quarter marathoners and the road got busier. There seemed to be a lot less bands playing but a lot more people on the course. This was also the biggest uphill of the course I think but I felt good and ploughed on up the hill and past more runners and walkers. There was a huge crowd as we turned onto Long St (and stopped running uphill). It was almost like you were hitting the finishing line hearing everyone cheer for you – quite a confidence boost. I think it was at this point I stopped to use the portaloo – all that water and gatorade I had been drinking…..
About half a mile later my stomach started to play up. I’m not sure what caused it – wasn’t sure if it was just the running or taking the Gu a bit earlier on. Aid station 9 had run out of water which wasn’t good but I was just thankful I still had some water left in my hydration belt. I didn’t want to stop as I thought my legs would never start again so just kept on going.
Miles 9-11 were tough. The combination of no water, the stomach, running into a rougher part of town and the cobblestones of German Village led to the hardest part of the run for me. The worst bit of miles 10-12 were that we had already passed the finish line and were heading away from it – the purely psychological effect of knowing that every step further along the race meant you were further from your destination was not fun. Also this was really the only part of the course that I knew the area so I knew where I was, knew I was close but still had another 3 miles to go! However, thinking of “only 3 more miles” helped to kick the legs in and keep on running and not stop to walk.
At this point I knew I wouldn’t make the 2.15 time period but I should be able to make 2.30 – I just had to keep pushing on and overtaking people.
Mile 12, the turn around point and head up hill towards the finish. It felt good – even if it was uphill. I didn’t feel like any of the uphill slopes were really uphill in this race – I guess the training run in PA made these slopes pretty insignificant. The split shows that mile 13 was 30 seconds faster than mile 12 and mile 13 was all uphill. The combination of knowing I was almost done and that I was actually heading in the right direction was a great boost to the moral….You could actually see the finishing line.
As I approached mile 13 I started to speed up and sprint the final part of the race. The crowd was huge and cheering everyone on – as I approached the end we almost had to slow down for an ambulance that pulled across the entire road and headed towards the finishing line. Thankfully by the time I got there it had pulled onto just one side of the road but I was literally an ambulance chaser for the last .1 of a mile to the finish. I’m not sure if I actually caught it or not though but I hope the person they drove to was ok. There were a few people getting medical attention on the course that I passed during the race and several people were stopping to stretch their cramping legs.
The last .1 was very much a blur. I wasn’t looking at the crowd – just heading for the finish line, feeling good that I was able to sprint it in, enjoying the noise of everyone cheering and not puking at the end.
Crossing that line felt so good. I had accomplished a half marathon with a time of 2 hours, 18 minutes and 25 seconds. Seconds later I got my first medal and an ever so nice tasting orange, banana and bagel.
I wandered around the finish area for a while trying to spot the rest of the runners and bumped into Heather and Robb, hung out for a while and then headed out to get my 13.1 logo for the car. I initially got a magnet and then discovered my bumper is plastic so went back in and got a sticker.Then it was off for a pizza! Ate 3 slices before I got home and then ate most of the rest of it for lunch – tasted so good.
A nap in the afternoon helped although my legs were pretty stiff for the rest of the day. As one blogger tells it “You know you’re still suffering when you have to use a rail to go down stairs or brace yourself to sit on the toilet”.
The legs were still pretty stiff this morning, but church was really hectic and I ended up running through the narthex at a couple of points during the service – the fact that I could run was reassuring but I’m not quite ready for my Monday evening run just yet – but that is still 24 hours away…..
Now I have completed a half marathon (not really on my bucket list but I will add it just so I can cross it off) I’m not sure what is next. I do have two more races signed up for this year – both 5k’s and I know I’ll be doing more half’s but just don’t know where yet….perhaps the Columbus Half or maybe a long weekend vacation and a destination half.
Thanks and congratulations to everyone who ran with me at some part of the day – I had a great time and we all accomplished a lot today – We’re all Champions!
WEll done, Andy. That`s quite an achievement 🙂
Thanks Ione – does it inspire you to do likewise 😉
Think I may have to put running on the back burner for a while as I am in pain with it. After having achilles tendonopathy for 5 years I was helped loads by a sports therapist, and I can generally walk pain free, and walk I do – around 100 minutes a day, but running seems to set me back a bit. I love running though. There`s nothing quite like it and I hope to keep fit enough to go for a jog on the beach everyday when we are on holiday. I`m very impressed with your dedication though and I totally get it 🙂