Thursday, October 23, 2014

Columbus Marathon Race Recap: Part 1 (pre-race stuff)

Preface: Big reveal here: sometimes, I get a tad... wordy.  I know, I know, you're all shocked.   As I started to type this blog post, I quickly realized that it was going to be a long one.  Like, a REALLY long one.  So, I'm going to go ahead and try something new: a two-part series.  I hate cliffhangers, but most of you reading this likely already know how the story ends, so it's not really a cliffhanger!  And I promise I'll finish it in the next day or two.

I love quotes, and they often come to mind when I first start penning (typing) a new blog post.  So here's the one on my mind right now:  "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." (A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens).   I have to admit, I have not read this book, but this quote is such an apt description of my latest race, I just have to use it. 

Just 10 days before the Columbus Marathon, I didn't even know if I was going to be able to run in it at all.  I was cleared to run on October 9th by my sports med doctor, Dr. Bright, after an MRI showed no sign of a stress fracture.  This was after 12 days of very little running at all, as Dr. Bright was fairly sure that's what was wrong with me. Thank goodness he was wrong.  I promised myself that I would practice gratitude during my marathon. Just to be able to run in it would be enough.   Of course, little old Ms. Competitive always gets in the way.  And then her twin sister, Ms. Big Mouth, made her appearance as well.  I just had to announce to the world in my most recent blog post that I was going to attempt to qualify for Boston on October 19th.  I've never been one to keep my goals private, not even as a competitive swimmer growing up.  I made it no secret when I was attempting to make my Junior National cut... year after year... after year, after year.  Yeah, that was fruitless.  But I digress.  Suffice to say, I've never been good about personal goals.  I'm not sure exactly why I like to tell others what I hope to do.  I think part of it is knowing that they will support me, help keep me on track.  I love to hear them say, "Oh, you can do that!"  Deep down, I'm not the most confident person in the world (shocking, I know!).  Hearing others build me up helps breed confidence in myself.

I spent the three days before the marathon with my family in Hocking Hills, at our annual family reunion.  

Obligatory picture of my adorable children on a hike

When I registered for Columbus back in April (the day after I finished my first marathon), I didn't realize that the race coincided with the family trip.  Fortunately, the festivities basically conclude every year on Saturday night with our final family dinner together, so I knew I wouldn't be missing much if I left to head back to Columbus that evening.  And that is exactly what I did, driving home by myself, stopping by my friend Christine's house to get my bib (which she had so generously picked up for me at the race expo, since it took place while I was in Hocking Hills), and getting to bed at a decent hour.  It actually was a pretty perfect scenario... my kids were all with my husband at the lodge still, so I didn't have to worry about anything other than me, myself and I.

No "Flat Marcie"... but here is my mantra band (courtesy of Jen), my grace band, and my Children's Champions tattoo.

I woke up at the now-common-for-me hour of 4:25 AM.  Actually, I was up at 3:45 AM, but snuggled under my blankets until 4:25 when I decided to start the day.   Breakfast was a bagel with peanut butter.  I chased down three ibuprofen as well, in preparation for the workout my body was about to get.  I had waffled about what to wear for the race.  With a starting temperature of sub-40 degrees, and a finishing temperature of only 43 degrees, I just wasn't sure if capris or shorts would be best.  I finally settled on capris with a tank and arm sleeves, and throw-away gloves, and this ended up being the perfect decision. 

My friend Christine picked me up at 5:15, just as we'd planned, and we headed downtown.  Parking was a total breeze, and by 5:45 we were sitting in the nearly-empty parking garage, chilling and chatting.  

Crickets... :)

I love Christine, she's so cool and laid-back.  She keeps me in check!  Plus, it helps that we lead parallel lives (five kids each, plus both middle school teachers!).  I ate a banana while Christine decided which hydration belt she'd be wearing.  After about 15 minutes, we decided to head over to the steps of the Nationwide building, where Christine's Sunday long run group was meeting.  Christine is one of Jen's training buddies, so of course I was thrilled to see Jen, as well as Stacey and Lyndsey.  Katie and Gretchen were there as well, so lots of hugs were shared (and a few pictures taken) before I headed off to meet my own training partners at the Hyatt nearby.

Christine and Gretchen sharing the space blanket I gave Christine from the Akron half 
Not-so-great selfie with Grechen, Lyndsey and Christine (none with Jen yet--she's superstitious about that!)

I was quickly able to find Amy, Jess and Crissy, all members of my awesome Wednesday training group.  After a bathroom pit-stop, we headed to the meeting area where MIT was stationed. I was hoping to see some of my Glass City marathon buddies, and Crissy is in MIT so of course she wanted to see her coaches and training buddies.  I was so happy to catch sight of Carolyn and get a super-awesome pre-race hug.  I also got a great hug from my friend Erica, who was running in her first half-marathon.

Me and Erica!

Then I caught sight of Lori, another one of the crazies who meets at 4:30 (or earlier!) on Wednesday mornings to run with us. Lori is hilarious... so candid and always making the runs fun.  The five of us posed for a few pictures before we headed out to join the parade of runners journeying to the starting corrals.  

Love these mamas!

I gotta admit, this was one of the most annoying parts of the morning for me.  People were walking soooooo slowly!  I needed to check my gear bag, and I needed to pee.  Those two things before I got in my corral.  Seeing as I'd never before checked a bag at a race, I was a bit concerned.  Okay, that's putting it mildly... Lori will vouch for that.  I weaved my way around the slowly-walking racers and my friends had no choice but to chase after me.  I was on a mission LOL! 

It was all good when we finally found the gear check (ended up being such a simple process to check my bag!) and then entered our corral, B.  The portapotty line by corral B was long, but moving quickly, so Lori and I hopped in line while Amy, Jess and Crissy waited back in the corral.  All of a sudden, as we were standing in line, Lori spotted Erin, Nicole and Becky--also all members of our awesome Wednesday early-run group!  I have to admit, I almost peed my pants when I saw them.   I really thought we just weren't going to see each other before the race.  I mean, 18,000 runners... how would we ever find each other???  It was just pure luck.  Lots of squealing, and then of course portapotty-using, before we headed back to the corral to join our other friends. 

So happy to be starting the race with my friends!

Only about 10-15 minutes more of waiting before it was time to get the party started!  Lots of fireworks and then we were finally running!!!  

To be continued...

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