So, we headed over to the convention center where we picked up our race shirts and bib numbers. I thought the Asics race shirts that we received were really nice (as they should be with the entry fee as high as it is). This was my brother and sister's first marathon attempt and they were both trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon by running under 3:10 and 3:40 respectively. My goal for the race was to try to help pace my sister to a sub 3:40 finish. While at the expo we ran into John Davis, who is a local runner from Kinsman, OH. His wife was with him and he usually does this race each year. After chatting for a bit we looked around at all the booths that were set up.
This year's race expo was alright... A decent amount of vendors were there but it was nothing like the race expos that took place in the early/late 90's. One vendor did draw my attention though. They were promoting their new product called Enlyten Sport Strips. Basically they are electrolyte strips (similar to breath mint strips) that dissolve in your mouth while you drink water and provide you with the proper amount of electrolytes to avoid dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Six small strips are equivalent to the amount of electrolytes in one sports drink. I decided to grab a couple "cassettes" and try out the product at the race tomorrow. I found that I liked the product since it was small enough to stash inside of the pouch in my shorts and it was easy to take in while running. Just slide open the case, lick the strip on top, and you're good to go.
On our way out of the expo my brother (Jeff) and sister (Jamie) each purchased an additional Columbus Marathon shirt. While they were looking at what to get, a pair of running shoes caught my eye over at the Asics shoe/clothing display. These were not any shoes however... These were a $180 pair of running shoes called the Asics Gel Kinsei 2. Immediately I thought to myself... How could these shoes cost so much? One of the sales reps realized my interest and immediately called the manager over to have me try on a pair. As he approached me I said "OK, I bet you're going to try to sell me on these shoes huh?" He said "No, I just want you to try on a pair and see what you think." After grabbing a pair in my size he gave me a short lesson on the shoe and showed me all of the characteristics it had and then said.. go ahead, try them on and go for a walk. As soon as I slid these shoes on I could already feel the cushion underneath. Basically there is a gel layer that is on top of the gel pockets underneath, allowing you to have more spring in your step. This shoe is also made similar to a car where each portion underneath the shoe reacts independently, giving you better cushioning and allowing you to feel like you are running barefoot but with support. I must say that I am satisfied with the Nike Air Pegasus that I have run on the roads with for years, but I am definitely sold on this pair of shoes from Asics. Now they just have to lower their price tag!
After leaving the race expo my brother, sister, and I walked a short distance over to the finish line area where they were already setting things up. While over there we climbed inside of the Nationwide Insurance headquarters sign for a photo opp. They were the main sponsor for the marathon again this year.
Then we drove over to the Spaghetti Warehouse, which we had reservations for at 5:00, and my sister's friend Glenn, who lives near Columbus, met up with us. I ordered the 15-layer lasagna and it was delicious as always!
Left to right - Me, Tami, Joe, Jeff, Jamie, & Glenn
After leaving the restaurant we stopped to get a picture underneath of Christopher Columbus' giant robe...
It was now Tribe Time and we headed back to the hotel to watch the Indians hopefully beat the Red Sox in game 6 of the ALCS. Unfortunately we all know the outcome of this game, as well as Game 7. This was even more disappointing since I had tickets to go to Game 1 and 7 of the World Series if the Indians had made it. Oh well... Cleveland has a young team so hopefully they will be dominant for years to come. The only positive thing about the Indians getting blown out in Game 6 was that I could head to bed and get some sleep for the marathon without having to worry about the outcome of the game.
In the morning my alarm clock went off at 5:30. I got up, took a shower, and ate a bagel with peanut butter. After getting ready we were all ready to walk to the start line around 7:15.
Showing off my bandaided nipples
Once we got downtown my brother left us to look for the 3:10 pace group and my sister and I headed over to the 3:40 pace group.
I could tell by the amount of people at the start that they had a good turnout for the race this year. Eventually the announcer said over the loud speaker that this was a record setting year with 4,700 registered marathon runners and a total of 10,000 people participating in all of the races. I always enjoy the atmosphere before the start of a big road marathon. People scurrying to get to their spots... Music blaring over the speakers... You can feel the excitement in the air! After the national anthem and the start of the wheelchair race, marathoners were presented with a helicopter flyover by the Army. We were now on our way...
The weather for the race was nice and cool and hardly any wind, which is unusual for the Columbus Marathon. At the start it was mostly sunny and in the 50's. By the finish it only got into the 60's, but the sun made it feel a little warmer than it was. At the beginning of the race I just wanted to stick with the 3:40 pace leader and keep somewhat close to our 8:15 planned pace, which would give Jamie and I around a 3:36 finish. By looking at my GPS watch though I could tell that the pace leader was going a little bit too fast and I tried to keep reassuring my sister that we were fine and that we should just keep running our own pace. However, as we neared closer to mile 6 we were getting closer and closer to the pace group and by mile 8 we already had a minute or two in the bank. At this point I told Jamie that we should just try to stay a little bit ahead of the pace group but not get too crazy.
We eventually got locked into our pace and cruised through the miles at this point. As we neared the turn onto High St. which takes you from mile 12 to mile 17 through downtown the amount of spectators really picked up. (Click Here to view the course map) All I had to do to get the crowd into it was raise both of my arms and yell "Come on!" The sound that came as a result was incredible. It really got me and my sister and everyone around us pumped up... Once we turned to head north up High St. I knew that this was going to be the toughest part of the course though. The C-Bus Marathon is billed as a flat course but from about mile 13 to 18 there is a long uphill grade that slowly begins to wear on your legs. It isn't a steep incline but it's enough to keep you honest and make you rethink how fast you really want to be running this section.
Going through downtown in front of the statehouse I saw my wife, Tami, snap a few photos of us and then a little further down we saw our dad. As we passed him he yelled to us "Jamie, are you guys on pace?" She yelled "Under!" We were already a little bit past him so I just pointed to the ground to let him know that we were under our 3:40 pace. We reached the halfway mark in 1:47.48.
We continued up the hill and around mile 17 I told Jamie that I needed to back it down some and I told her to keep going. She looked back once or twice and that was the last time I saw her. Once we separated I was a little worried that we went out too fast and that she might slow up some. But then I remembered her telling me as we were going up High St. that she was feeling pretty good and that made me feel better.
After grabbing more Gatorade to drink, an orange (which tasted good but doesn't sit well in my stomach), and a bagel from Panera Bread I looked around for my wife and family. In the alley next to the race aid I heard my dad yell my name and I walked over and talked to him. He told me that my brother and sister both qualified for Boston and I was very happy to hear that. Jeff finished with a time of 3:09.32 (181st overall and 171st out of all males) and Jamie finished in 3:34.24 (698th overall and 77th out of 1,533 females).
As for me, I really slowed up from about mile 18 to 24 and did a lot of running/walking. At this point I could tell that my lack of road training and high mileage was beginning to take a toll on me. I would speed up for awhile and then slow down or walk once I felt like I was depleted of energy. I felt slightly nauseaus as well (either from dehydration, lack of salt, or both) Through this section I just tried to drink lots of water and gatorade and recharge for the end of the race. Runners probably got upset when they would catch up to me and then see me sprint another 500 yards ahead of them just to walk again, but it was the only thing I could do to hang on to a decent finish time and a sub 4 hour finish. At least I made a lot of friends along the way and helped to push a few runners that were in the same boat that I was.
Closer to the finish I met up with this guy that had a Boston Red Sox hat on and I told him that I'd run into the finish chute with him. (You know that I'm tired when I'm not only running with a Red Sox fan but also talking to him!) He really appreciated my motivation though and we were able to put on a pretty good kick at the end, finishing in a time of 3:54.57 (1,420 overall and 1,124 out of 2,463 males). I wasn't extremely happy about my time but it always feels good to finish under 4 hours and get another one in the books. This was my 12th road marathon finish, with 10 others being ultra marathons.
It was great to finally see them suffer after a marathon instead of having them just watch me! My sister threw up some water after the race I guess and I threw up some Gatorade myself when I went back to get more food. I think not having any clouds in the sky during the race kind of drained everyone's energy a bit.As we walked back to our hotel we decided to stop and take a swim in the hotel water fountain (which we had planned the day before) I thought this might help to take away some of the post-race soreness. The water felt extremely cold... probably because we were in the shade and dehydated from the race. But it felt good and refreshing!
Once we were all showered up we ate at Max and Erma's next to our hotel before driving back home. My brother and sister both ordered their famous Garbage Burger and I got a bowl of French Onion soup, half a turkey sandwich, and fries. The soup tasted really good with all the salt in it.
Overall, it was a great day and a very enjoyable weekend. Running the Columbus Marathon always brings back good memories... It reminds me of all the trips we would take as a family to watch my dad and his old running buddies participate in this race. It reminds me of when I qualified for the 2000 Boston Marathon back in '99 with my old college roommate Jason. And after today, it will also remind me of the great joy of being able to help pace my sister to a sub 3:40 finish and watch both my brother and sister qualify for Boston.