“At first an ordeal and then an accomplishment, the daily run becomes a staple, like bread, or wine, a fine marriage, or air. It is also a free pass to friendship.”
~ Benjamin Cheever, Strides

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Columbus Marathon Recap

Race: Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon
Distance:  26.2 miles
Date:  October 21, 2012, 7:30am start
Finish time:  4:52:30
What sets this race apart:  My First Freaking Marathon!  Patient champions at each mile marker - 

Best 3 things with respect to course/management:  (1) Water stops were done fantastically.  In the first half of the course they were HUGE.  I never had to wait for anything.  (2) They used Gatorade!  (3) Good on course entertainment.

Least favorite 3 things: Diversion through the shoe, non-stroller friendly expo, lack of finish line photo for me at this point.

My parents flew in to cheer me on and to watch Avery during the race.  My Dad and I went to the expo together to pick up the pretty empty good bag, and then we drove the course so that he could pick out where they would be on the course.  (Give my Dad a map and something to plan and he will be happy for WEEKS!)
Rice?  Really?  Also, lots of paper.  But, there was a coupon for BOGO Chipotle
The morning of the race, Mark, his friend Matt and I drove to the hotel where MIT gets a conference room for us to meet pre-race.  (Mark was pacing me for the half).  
11:30s Full Group
After a few potty breaks, we all headed to the corrals.  Mark, Laura, Tara, Jen and I tried not to lose each other, but it was a close call a few times.  Turns out, 18,000 people is a LOT of people.

It took us (we were in Corral E) 18 minutes to cross the start line.  And, in less than 0.5 miles, we were dodging walkers.  Wow.  Just wow.

Mile 1 was one of my least favorite miles.  There was lots of excitement, but it was REALLY crowded, and we focused on trying not to start too fast.  Turns out, with the crowd, that was really easy.  Slowest mile of the entire race, and way slower than I'd wanted.  (Over 12 minute mile!)  Tara and Jen managed to squeeze through and take off.  Laura, Mark and I tried to stick together.  
Photo courtesy of Fleet Feet.  Had to be in the first 13 miles - still together!
Somewhere in this mess of a first mile, I coughed up some nastiness (as has been routine since my sinus infection).  Not wanting to spit THAT on anyone nearby (although maybe that would make people get out of my way?  HA!), I spit it into my throw away gloves.  I know, you all wish you were as classy as me.  As a result, I ditched my throw away gloves a little sooner than intended.

Around mile 2.5, we saw my family cheering from across the street and waved like crazy people!  Returning runners were between us and them at this point, but we would get closer around mile 6.5.
Some version of this was a very popular sight.  I saw them 7x on the course!  So. Awesome.
Occasionally, in this section, we got separated because it was just that crowded.  Somewhere around mile 4, I remarked to Mark that my hands were still cold.  Another runner overheard me, and offered me gloves.  Said she had an extra pair and then gave them to me.  That made for such a great story, that I made Mark keep them in his pocket when I was done with them 4 miles later instead of tossing them.
I will treasure them forever.
Around mile 5, Mark told me that his knee was flaring up and that he "only had 1 or 2 miles left in him."  This would become a recurring statement, but he never did quit.  I really enjoyed this first half of the marathon, I felt really strong.
And maybe just a little crazy!
We saw my family again around mile 10.5.  Laura stayed with us for most of the first half, and then she needed to slowed down a bit, so we waved the okay as we split.  We then saw some of my MIT coaches, said hello, and kept on chugging along!  I have to admit really, really enjoying feeling so strong at this point, especially seeing all those doing the half marathon that were hitting that "OMG" point. 

Several of my running buddies were on this part of the course, getting close to mile 13.  It was right at the turnoff for the half marathon finishers.  Such a nice boost to see all of them!  Plus, I was still feeling really great.  I gave some hugs, declined some food, said goodbye to Mark and felt a little bit of awe as I took the narrow chute for the full marathon course leaving behind 11,000 half marathoners.

After the turn, the course was MUCH, MUCH, MUCH emptier.  It was nice to run without dodging, but you could also see people starting to falter.  This was a LONG almost 4 mile stretch straight up high street, mostly on an uphill incline.  My Dad had told me that they intended to see me at the turn off from that street.  Mostly, I just tried to really enjoy the scenery, repeated to myself that it was my first marathon and to soak it up.  This helped kept any negatives at bay.  Every now and then, my right ankle would twinge and I would back off just a bit.  I got a huge boost from seeing my family at Lane and High Street and turned off the incline towards the stadium area.

This was my LEAST favorite part of the course.  The gimick this year was that the full marathon course went THROUGH Buckeye Stadium.  In order to pull that off we had a lot of strange windy twisty turns to run down a ramp, across the back of the endzone and back up a ramp.  Complete.  Waste. Of.  Time.  Granted, I'm not a Buckeye fan, so maybe it was cool for those who are.  

The big stinker?  With all the turns, I ran this part of the course poorly and gained 0.1 mile in mile 19.  It's one thing to gain that much over a half marathon, but in one mile.  Mentally, I was devastated.  My 20th mile was my toughest mile mentally as a result.  I also felt like I had to poop and kept watching for an open potty.  By the time I saw one though, I felt better and decided to suck it up.   I did pass my friend Amy who was running towards the stadium!  Fun!

I saw my Dad around mile 19.5, which was a nice boost.  I told him I was starting to feel tired.  He told me that was okay and that they would try to see me at mile 23.  Avery was asleep in the car, so I didn't see her or Janette.  I saw my friends Richard and Sarah near mile 20.  As I gave them high 5's, I just kept saying "I needed this, I needed this."  I don't think they fully appreciate what a boost they gave me and how they helped get me out of that extra 0.1 mile mental block.  That 20th mile was my slowest mile on the course outside of the first mile (11:38 min/mile).
See the focus!
Somewhere in here, I also started getting little pains that shot down my arm to my right hand....from the shoulder strain.  I kept trying to rotate my shoulders to loosen them up.

I spent most of mile 22 thinking - I hope I see my family at mile 23.  LOL!  An ipod might have been a better option than my thinking at this point.  A LOT of people were walking.  Since they were walking because they were exhausted or hurt, they just stopped wherever they were.  I almost ran straight into someone at one point.  I had to spend more energy dodging again.  

Somewhere in the 20's one of the patient champions was an older kiddo.  He was standing out in the middle of the street giving runners high 5's.  That was awesome.  WHAT AN INSPIRATION.

As I came up on mile 23, I could hear my name being shouted.  My Dad, Janette and Avery were out there screaming with their sign.  I'm not going to lie to you, I cried.  At this point, emotion and joy just overcame me.  So. Glad. To. See. Them.  Janette later told me, "I couldn't figure out why you were crying, you still looked so strong!"  Joy.  That's why. 

I told myself - only about a 5K left, you can do that in your sleep.  This became a sort of mantra for whatever distance I had left at that point.  2 miles - you can do that easy.  Longest 5K EVER.

Around mile 25, I saw the pink tutus of my MIT coaches.  I knew one of them would probably run with me and was so happy.  Then, I saw Mark.  And yes, I cried again.  Just call me an emotional sap already!   Mark ran with me for about 0.7 miles.  He turned off when I hit the inflated "0.5 miles left" marker.
His knee was really hurting him - but I LOVED him for this!
At this point, the crowds on the side were much bigger and I saw so many of my running buddies that I couldn't possibly list them all!  I picked up speed and just soaked it all in.  As I ran down Nationwide, I even saw my parents in the crowds at the finish line!  I was able to sprint the last little bit and crossed the finish line at 4:52:30, under my 5 hour time goal and meeting my "I want to ENJOY it" goal.

My muscles definitely stiffened up as I stopped, got my medal, water, food, and walked to meet my parents at the MIT tent.  I congratulated a few friends and then headed home, where I proceeded to talk about the race for the next 24 hours.  HA!  I signed up for my next marathon before the 24 hours were even up.  Yup, I'm that gal.

I realized later that for the first time, I was so focused on just living it, that I neglected to take many pictures.  There isn't even a posed picture of Mark and I.  Oh well, next time!
You got one with me mommy, that's all that matters.
This was my first long distance race that I only walked during the water stops.  (except races I paced).  I really need to learn how to drink from a cup and run at the same time!.
My chip start was approximately 18 minutes after the gun.

Regardless, today - I'm a marathoner.  And.  It is awesome.

Edited:  After I wrote this, finish line photos appeared at Marathon Foto.  As a result, I kept my silent promise to the powers that be and purchased the digital downloads of all the photos from my first marathon.  I will treasure them always...and not violate copyright laws by posting them in this post!


  1. Congratulations, Mandy! Sounds like you ran a "perfect" first marathon, and even beat your own goal by 8 minutes. That's HUGE!!Cant wait to hear how you do ay Goofy and this mystery marathon you've signed up for

    1. Thanks Deb! I signed up for the Flying Pig on May 5th! :D

  2. Wow, Mandy! I am so happy for you! It sounds like you rocked that race. I'd have to go back and look, but I don't think I saw the words "wall" or "quit" even once. Congrats on finishing your first marathon! That's a big day...and I'm glad it won't be the last.

    So what's the race you signed up for less than 24 hours later? :^)

    1. I don't think she whined at all after the race. I was impressed!

    2. Love this point! I signed up for the Flying Pig Marathon on May 5th!

  3. I am sad we didn't get a picture together too! I also did not take very many at all. You had a great race and I am so proud of you! Congratulations!! Those gloves are a treasured souvenir of your first marathon!

  4. Congratulations Mandy!!!!!!! How fun to see you along the course :)

  5. Congratulations, Mandy!! I loved seeing how strong you looked at the "1/2 mile to go marker". You were amazing!! And I cried reading your recap. Great job, Marathoner!!!

  6. Wow, way to rock it Mandy! I love the gloves story:) Runners are awesome! So nice that your family was able to be there to cheer you on:)

  7. Congrats on your first marathon! It's so nice that your family is so supportive of your running, what a great cheering section!

  8. Congrats!!! Love the glove story - runners really rock. So excited for you :)

    Well done!

  9. Just amazing, Mandy! I'm so thrilled for you. It sounds like the race went really well... getting tired at mile 20-21 is not so bad! And yes- I remember that last 5k being the loooongest ever. You did it!! Love that you already signed up for your second. I'm still contemplating that 18 months later... :)


Comments pretty much make my day - so thank you for yours!