The Columbus Half Marathon this year was the first time I’ve raced in nine years (and that was just a random 5k not taken seriously … I haven’t really raced since high school). The last decade has seen me run only sporadically, and in that time I’ve put on a good bit of weight. This past spring I resolved, not for the first time, to slim down and get back into running. For some reason the change seems to have stuck this time, and it wasn’t long before I was wanting a running goal to work towards. Every year I’ve lived in Columbus I’ve seen the Marathon date roll around and think that next year I should give it a go, and so this year I decided to give the half marathon a shot.
Training over the summer went pretty well. I took things very conservatively since I’m carrying extra weight, making sure to take rest days anytime I felt overly tired or hurt. I took a full week off on two separate occasions because of pain, and I think it’s because I was so cautious that I made it to the start line feeling reasonably healthy. I learned quite a bit over the summer, including just how logistically difficult runs can be once you get over the 8-9 mile range when it comes to hydration. The summer here in Columbus was especially hot which made things even more difficult, but I was lucky to have Alli totally on board and willing to deliver water during some of my longer runs. Over training I ran the full half marathon distance just once; most of my long runs were in the 9-12 mile range.
I didn’t have much in the way of expectations when it came to time. I was pretty sure finishing would be doable since I had covered the distance in training (and on a much hotter day, on a hillier course), but I was kind of apprehensive about time since my training run of 13.1 had taken me about 2:41. I figured there’d be some improvement because of cooler temps if nothing else, and so I decided I’d shoot for under 2:30, with a dream goal of under 2:20. Pretty big range there, but when you’re on the slower end I think you tend to work with a bigger window.
Race morning was pretty freaking cold, and I was overhydrated so I spent the time between 7:00 and 7:20 waiting to use the port-a-john and shivering, then walking to just about the back of the last starting corral and almost immediately having to pee again. This led to me having to stop and use the bathroom at the very first opportunity (after one mile!) but you gotta do what you gotta do
I’m new to racing anything bigger than a high school cross country race and some random post high school 5ks, but I was really impressed with how well organized everything was at the Columbus Marathon. There was live music every mile, plenty of water and gatorade, and the entire thing was worry free on the organizational end. I think the thing that blew my mind about the race more than anything (and I think this’ll sound silly to veteran racers I imagine) was just how packed the course was with runners, from step one all the way to the finish line. Like I said earlier the only frame of reference I have is high school cross country, where races generally consisted of 100-200 kids, and I’d spend stretches of races with only a few kids in my immediate vicinity. In the Columbus Marathon it was a solid wall of people, which I thought was very cool.
The crowd of runners helped quite a bit with pacing, as there was immediate feedback when I slowed down. Slow down and start getting passed by dozens of people, speed up and pass dozens, it was easy to pick runners out and run “with” them so as to stay around the same pace. My only thought with pacing was a vague idea that I’d like to come through ten miles in about 1:45 and then see what happened, because I’d run a ten mile training run a couple of weeks previous in that time. However, I kept it around and under 10:00 a mile for quite a while and was feeling really good (race day adrenaline and atmosphere, combined with great weather did wonders) so I came through ten miles in around 1:40. This gave me a great feeling, knowing I’d be well under 2:20 unless something pretty bad happened, and it gave me a nice second wind. I did slow down a bit the last few miles, but came through the finish in 2:12:06, a time I felt absolutely great about. I’ve still got probably another 30-40 pounds I’d like to lose, so to be able to run a half at 10:00-ish a mile I think is a great achievement at my current fitness level.
Next up I think is some sort of 5k in November and the 5 mile Turkey Trot in Columbus on Thanksgiving Day. At some point over the winter I want to really lock in my running goals for 2011 (I have a hazy idea right now), but I’m hoping to do a full marathon at some point soon.
My 2010 Columbus Half Marathon Splits:
2 00:10:35 – (Bathroom stop!)
3 00:09:07 – (Not really sure what happened here … I think the song “Sabotage” came on my iPod … I’m kind of predictable sometimes)
14 00:02:01 0.21 09:43
(Yes, I apparently ran an extra .11 … I need to work on running tangents!)