Mentally it's been a rough week. As usual, I'm pretty good at putting on the happy face, because well, it's what I do best I guess. As positive as I may try to be, sometimes reality creeps in and the past is hard to block out. Obviously my goal/plan is to run the Cleveland marathon AND finish. But because of my injuries from March there was not necessarily doubt, but uncertainty if my body could even make it to the start line. Yes, I could have given up, rested and tried another time, but there are other reasons that go into me wanting/having to run. As each week goes by and each run gets completed successfully in my revised training....I knew that I still could not officially settle into the fact that I would be in Cleveland May 15th for the Marathon. The biggest hurdle of all, the half marathon, was yet to come. While everyone else is doing 8 miles and tapering down this weekend, I had to keep testing myself, not because I like torture, (yes, and those that know my are rolling their eyes right now since I sorta do) but because I needed to be able to do it. Toughest part was knowing the distance, knowing the past. 3 Half Marathons....3 times not being able to run after for a long time. So all week while I stayed positive, dreamed about the marathon, I still had that wall, that hurdle to jump. I didn't know if I could handle the disappointment or handle my body breaking down again. But I didn't have time to dwell on that, the only way to find out was to JUST DO IT!
My mid week runs were smooth. Tuesday was a typical treadmill run, 4 miles, nice and easy. Thursday the rain finally stopped around here and I met up with Marla for the last training run before the half in the park, and what would be my last "4 mile" run before the marathon.
During the week, I was able to get in contact with a Amanda, fellow runner whose blog I follow. She's from Chicago and is training for the Chicago Marathon in October. I noticed a few weeks ago that her race schedule included Columbus to do the Half Marathon and have been meaning to say something. She has been fighting a cold, so she had mentioned that she wasn't sure if she could go for her personal best time, but still going to try and finish. Unfortunately we were not able to meet up, and seeing how there were over 10,000 people down there, didn't see myself running into her....Well, I get an email from her last night and she tells me that I beat her by 32 seconds. I was really happy, both because she rocked it out, killing her previous best time and that she did it coming off a cold....Check out her blog to read her story of the race....
Cap City Half Marathon....The test
Woke up early, got my 5 hours of sleep and headed out at the crack of dawn to pick up Marla. In her usual female fashion, she was a bit behind...We joked and wondered if her boyfriend Dan would be at the finish line this time, since he missed us the last race. Found our usual parking garage, since it's easy to get to the highway after. Probably spent about 20 minutes there, making sure we had everything, music, energy gummies, etc, etc....and of course being the nice pharmacist she is, I got scolded when I popped an advil, just as precaution...hey I didn't realize it speeds up dehydration and ruins the kidney during long exercises.....I mean I took one, not the whole bottle :-) Plus I hate pills to begin with, but it was more just a precaution.
The start of the race actually had "real" corrals...and entrances to each one with people only letting you in if you had that letter assigned to your bib....granted the closer it got to the start, people just started climbing the fences and squeezing through the bars to get in a closer one. We were in the corral a good 20 minutes prior to start time, so being my shy self (hey, I really am sorta shy) I chatted with anyone who would smile or make eye contact. Ya, I'm a dork, but might as well have fun, ease peoples nerves and make the time go by quicker. (of course didn't meet anyone as cool as my Cleveland girls from the 10 miler....ya, that's right, y'all just got a shout out) heehee
They did a wave start, which I thought was pretty neat and organized. Each corral would start and cross and each would have their own "starter" who announced the beginning....so once the corral was completely through, the next got ready. Our starter was James Buster Douglas, former heavyweight boxing champ. Pretty neat....We crossed the start line and off we went....
Started at a nice and easy pace as we were behind the 2:30 pace group and obviously, as always, there is a crowd of people. But there was not a lot of weaving in an out of people, thanks to the wave start and corrals, which was very nice.....While the garmin I was using is not completely accurate, I still try to follow it to get a sense of my pace. First mile was slightly sub 11 minute and the second mile was over 11 as we were still following the pace group. I slowly maneuvered us around the pace group, without pushing Marla too much. The area started to thin out and a bit after mile 3 I looked at her and asked how she was. Her response...JUST GO and pointed ahead. My plan was to run with her, but I expected to get the shoo away. The past 2 half's we've done together, I stuck by the whole way. This time I did need to test my legs for next weeks marathon. I wanted to do at least half the race around 10:00 pace (ballpark range) as that is the pace we plan for next weekend....so this time I didn't fight or object, I took off....
Alright, so when I say I took off, it wasn't supposed to mean literally took off. I mean, I just ran, nice easy pace....garmin beeped...8:35....um, really? Crap...kept telling myself, "I need to slow down"...I thought I was and then the next mile....8:45...seriously...I can hear Jodi screaming in my ear (in my head) telling me to slow down..."Marathon pace, not half marathon pace"....I may have gave her a hard time to stay at marathon pace for her half marathon last week. The next mile was finally over 9...I'm trying, really I am. At this point the runners who were doing the Quarter Marathon had turned off and it begin to thin out even more. The next 3 miles included mid 9 minute paces, so I was still trying to focus on my pace. Tried finding adults n kids to slap hands with along the side of the road. Tried reading all the signs, all the fun ones, the goofy ones, the serious ones. A few Charlie Sheen signs with his picture saying "You're Winning" and even a girl holding a sign saying "I like your stamina, call me" with her number underneath. Ok, gotta be honest I laughed and yes, tried to remember the number....LOL Continued finding things to do to slow down, picking people to run by and see if it feels right or picking people to run behind. After mile 8 was the sign that showed Quarter Marathon turn right to finish....Half Marathon continue left. It was at this point where I pictured the marathon, where for the first time, rather than turning to finish, I'll be the crazy person continuing. I did laugh how people were sorta messing with guys, tell them to turn the other way. Hey if you fall for it, it's on you for not paying attention. :-)
I finally got to my "pace" and hit the 10 minute mark, took me almost 3/4 of the race, but I managed to be over 10 for the next 3 miles. I even saw more of those "I like your stamina" signs, which obviously messed me up. I mean, I didn't know I had to carry a pen and pad with me along with my gels. How am I to remember all those numbers. Heehee
The last mile I decided to finish strong, but of course there was a hill....made it around 9:30, I was feeling really good, watching my stride, not overdoing it. The course went from 2 lanes to almost one around the corner, as the crowd made it smaller. Not sure they understand that while we all enjoy them being there to cheer us on, we just ran 13 miles and trying to get this over with, so please move out of the way :-)
Obviously had excess energy and plenty left, but my goal was to run the pace for next week....Although I didn't think about running another 13.1 LOL After crossing the finish they had lots of medics there making sure people were ok and getting you to keep walking and moving. I collected my finishers medal, but I knew Marla was still out on the course. So I removed the timing chip from my shoe and headed back on the course.
I kept my watch going so I could get a gauge on when Marla may pass. Just looked for blond and blue shirt. Kept walking, then saw the 2:20 pace group...then 2:30....I started to get worried, but I stopped at about 3/4 mile out and waited with a few people standing in the street to cheer the runners on. I saw her come down the hill, she looks and asked if I was done. I chuckled and said yes and joined her in running towards the finish and I asked how she was feeling.....all I got was a stern "DO NOT TALK TO ME", just want to get this over with. Which meant let me focus and keep quiet.
Marla finished strong and I crossed the finish "again" (funny for pics). I gave her a hug and got yelled at again (forgot she doesn't like that, or maybe I just smelled) All she said was...where is the beer...LOL I had to remind her water and food first. We saw Dan standing over near the finish and all went to the "after party".
This may have been the best and most organized of any of the half marathons I've done. Bananas, apples, Panera bagels, milk, Donato's pizza....better than the annual Columbus Marathon in October, where all they give you post race is cut up brown bananas, bags of generic chips, chicken soup and other crap as you walked through a small area. This time, as you got through, you entered the area of tents with area businesses, people walking around passing out champagne (the cheap stuff) and chocolate, a stage with a DJ and bands, food tent, beer tent....
Spent some time hanging out, ran into a friend of ours who was one of the DJ's for the race and decided we needed more food. Headed to La Casita for some lunch and then just relaxed and headed for an ice bath. All that there was left to do....was wait. I started talking about the Marathon, like it was tomorrow....but still had to wait and see how the body reacts.
On a somber note, as we were at the after party, Dan mentioned that a guy collapsed about 50 feet from the finish line, pretty much right in front of him. Said they spent about 10-15 minutes giving him CPR, using a defibrillator and even sticking something in his chest to get him breathing again. Not something you want to hear or see. Its saddening and "real" when something like this happens, especially when it happens to someone in fit physical shape. All I have read was an article saying a guy is in the hospital and his status is unknown. Thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.
As of now, my body really does not feel bad, almost feels "good". My plan is to run 2 miles Tuesday and 1 or 2 miles Thursday and maybe some bike work . Nothing major, just to stretch out, rest my muscles. Then somehow find a way to speed the clock up...Gametime is approaching.
We have the week to think, the week to dream. Right now it's just excitement....I now know I can carry a 10 minute pace and while that may be the plan, thoughts of a 9:45 pace are floating around the air, so I am contemplating that. After the half marathon, I don't see why not....
Until next time....