A week ago I toed the line on the streets of Columbus with the hope of rocking 13.1 miles. The Columbus Marathon is my all-time favorite. I ran my first 26.2 here last year and before that I ran the half three times!
The atmosphere is unlike any race I’ve run, thanks to the partnership with Nationwide Children’s Hospital. A Patient Champion is selected for and stationed at each mile, and they are the most inspiring little characters! I personally know the 2015 mile 8 champion, Gwen and I ran on her team this year! It was humbling, and I am so grateful for the experience.
Time for a little back-story. I took a break from racing from fall 2012-spring 2014, and that set me back more than I expected. I kept running during the break, but I didn’t do speed work or practice racing. When I ran my fourth half in the spring of 2014, I expected to pull my usual sub-2 time, but I just couldn’t. I was rusty. I started too fast for my untrained fitness and ran out of steam.
My last two halves were in Chicago and Nashville, and I wasn’t fully prepared for those two either. And they were definitely not sub-2s. NOT that anything over two hours is bad – racing is all relative, of course – but for me, it was slower than I was expecting. It was a wake-up call. I realized I’m not entitiled to run any particular pace just because I used to run that fast; I have to work for it!
Good news! At Columbus this weekend, I got my groove back! My chip time was 1:57:59. I was clocking a pretty steady 8:35 pace, a record-breaking half pace for me! However, I took too long at water stops, adding time to my average mile. Even so, this race flew by in comparison to my previous races!
I can thank Mile 8 Champion, Gwennie for that flying feeling. While I hit mile 6, I thought two miles to Gwennie and only 5 more after that! Another cool factor in this race was that I had at least 15 friends running in it too! I had lots of support, and several friends running the full marathon who I planned to cheer for when I finished.
I know some Salties prefer no music, but I need my tunes. I designed a race playlist, titled Half Marathon Hustle, so that I could put on my jams and cruise. It worked and added to the Gwen-effect.
I put the relaxing tunes at the beginning so I could settle into a pace. I put the fun, upbeat numbers in the second half to keep me pumped up. I designed it to be exactly the amount of time I needed, so when the last song ended in the last half mile I knew I was a little over goal time. That was a very helpful trick! But in the long run, I didn’t care too much about the end result since because I had so much fun – sub-2 was just icing on the cake!
Now that I know I am up to speed (pun totally intended) I will be chasing down my 1:50:00 goal with gusto! I specifically need to work on running through water stops and working on my finish. This tells me I need to work on things like continuous tempos to build endurance and both mental and physical strength.
In the end, this race not only allowed me to have a great time with close friends, but it was another reminder that I am strong and capable! What race shall I run next, Salties?!