Columbus [Half] Marathon. Race #38. 1/2 Marathon #8. Time 2:28:16 (New Half PR!)
The reason for the [Half] is that this race is part of the Columbus Marathon. Let’s be honest, that’s the star of the show (as well it should be, 26.2 is a lot of work!). But I loved the way that the two races were handled together, and runners got to spend most of the course together. This race boasts an athlete field of 18,000 runners and walkers! So exciting to be part of such a big crowd.
I hit up the expo on Saturday morning. It was massive. I was impressed with the organization of the packet pick-up, it was pretty seamless. The only major complaint was that the shirts were running pretty small, and while they were making it easy to swap sizes, there were not any larger sizes to swap in to! Honestly, that was no big deal. Plus, the shirt actually fits fine, I just thought it LOOKED small.
The week before the event, the race director came to the last meeting of my training group to brief us on what to expect (I love this personal touch). Along with your basic mention of traffic closures, gear check etc, he also said that Goodwill would be at the expo selling warm clothes that you could then leave at the start or along the road, and they would be picked up and donated back for resale. I had never thought about throwaways before, but checked out their area at the expo anyway. I ended up buying a pair of sweat pants and a hoodie that was BRAND NEW. Tags still on. I put these on over my running gear, and felt like I was ready to race in my pajamas. I want to keep an eye out for those soft clothes and wear them again next year!
My running group met at a hotel downtown to stay out of the cold. Indoors, bathrooms, friends, and a good amount of hype made me feel ready for the race. Not to mention… those pajamas. Headed towards the starting corrals around 7:00am and waited for the race to start. A lot of people (myself included) were bundled up. I had gloves and a long-sleeve shirt for the race, plus that hoodie and sweats to keep me warm, but then I remembered that my first half marathon (and my third) included ice, snow, wind, and high temps of 20 degrees. Then I felt surprisingly warm… and ready to run!
Breakfast: I have been on a serious Protein Cheerios kick. Had a bowl of these, with milk and a banana. I probably should have eaten more before the race started, I got hungry but was worried about tummy trouble.
Run/Walk: I wasn’t sure if I was going to do this, but once we started (finally), I thought I would try it again, just so I didn’t burn out. It worked out great!
Water Stations: Skipped the first. But not really on purpose this time! I was just on the wrong side of a really wide road and decided to keep going. Once I got in the groove, I was doing water refills on my bottle, then grabbing Gatorade at every other water stop/approximately every 3 miles.
Music: Made a great playlist the night before, and was excited to get it going!
I was in the last corral for this race, and the way it worked out, they basically started the race twice. Corrals A and B got the National Anthem, fireworks, a laser show, and then they started right at 7:30. Of course, we could hear and see all that for ourselves, it’s a relatively small area at the start line. I thought it would make sense to then move Corrals C and D up to the actual start line of the race. But that didn’t happen. Instead, we all stayed where we were, and there was a 2nd National Anthem, fireworks and laser show. While the sentiment of giving all runners the same send-off is very thoughtful, it REALLY seemed like overkill. Especially since we still weren’t anywhere near the start line. I know I crossed the start line at 7:49a.m. nearly 20 minutes after the race officially started.
This was a race that really felt like a blur, when it came to the actual running. I was watching spectators, watching fellow runners, making a path for myself so as not to run in to anyone (it was a crowded field for the whole run!), and enjoying myself. At each mile, there were Children’s Hospital patients, and that distance was dedicated to a family. It was very sweet to see everyone cheering, and knowing you were running for a good cause.
I pretty much stuck to my Run/Walk plan for the whole race, but knew that I was still running faster than normal. Of course I to get a PR, but I REALLY had to remind myself to keep reining in the effort early. I’m glad I did, because around Mile 10 I started feeling wheezy. I couldn’t catch my breath, and started getting light headed. It was a little scary, not sure what that was all about. Mile 11 was the “Angel Mile” and was dedicated to Children’s Hospital patients who are no longer with us. So even though I was feeling ready to quit, I pulled it together and kept going. Mile 12 flew by, and then I was finished! I even got to see BF who made it to the finish line in time to see me cross! Yay!
Post-Race: I tried to meet up with my running buddy after we were finished, but the combo between her starting way before me and finishing in an excellent 2:07, our schedules were just too off for us to meet up! I stretched a little, talked with a few people from my training group, and then took a shower. This time around, I had my sights set on my favorite meal in Columbus. Hot Chicken! My friend Nikki and her husband were watching all their friends at the race, and they even made a sign.
I stopped to get a picture of the sign before I even knew it was her! If you’re in the Columbus area, Hot Chicken is worth the journey. The food is fantastic, and their down-to-earth business model is even better. It’s just GOOD to support good people, and these guys are the real deal. Plus, free banana pudding for finishers!
After the race, I read a lot of stories about unhappy folks at the finish line. There were issues with the medals (this post is worth a read to get a behind the scenes glimpse at organizing a race of this size), there were complaints about the start, the finish and the course, and issues with post-race festivities. Small potatoes when you see all the successes, and the smiling faces of the kids we helped along the way. This is a race I will definitely run again!