Saturday, I was nervous. Sunday, I was ready. I tossed and turned all night, feeling pretty awake by 5am. I was up by 5:35 and full of anticipation, ready to take on Columbus. I spent the next hour pacing the hotel room, trying on different clothes, and forcing myself to eat. I knew I had to eat a decent amount to have enough energy for the entire race, but with each bite I thought it was going to come right back up. I managed to get down a Blueberry Clif bar and part of a blueberry bagel. I made my way down to the the start line and was right at my corral by 7:00.
Surprisingly I wasn’t nervous. I kept looking around, amazed by how many people were out here. I chatted with a few people, but as the air started to get colder, all I wanted to do was get going. Every couple of minutes the cannon would go off followed by fireworks, and each time it would take me by surprise. We were moving closer and closer to the start line, and soon it would be my time to start. I left my headphones out so I could take in every sound. With every step I was getting closer to running and with each step I had more tears flooding into my eyes. I knew if I cried right away I wouldn’t be able to get my breathing under control, so I kept thinking of other things, like how cold I was and how crazy it was that all these people were out here to support the runners they knew. I put my headphones in, started my Garmin, and began my journey of running 26.2 miles.
Mile 1: 10:43
I was cold, it was crowded and my teeth wouldn’t stop chattering. I was having trouble getting my breathing into a normal rhythm from my teeth shaking so much. I needed to figure out what would be my best pace so I looked around to find the closest pace group. I quickly found the sign with “4:45″ on it. I picked up my pace and settled right behind the sign. At this point, it was my best guess at how to manage the giant crowd and how I wouldn’t let myself go out too quick. 25 miles to go, this isn’t so bad.
Mile 2-4: 10:34, 10:38, 10:37
I started to warm up and I got into a pretty comfortable pace. It was still pretty crowded so we would slow down or speed up at times, but overall I felt good. My music was playing songs I didn’t think I had on my iPod, but I tried to ignore it and focus on the race. By mile 3 I pulled out the iPod and changed the playlist, I instantly felt better having my “go to” music playing. I saw a fellow Second Sole RR runner from my summer runs with the group. I took my first set of Sport Beans at mile 4, with a plan to take them every four miles. I saw Elayna along the course and quickly sprinted across, gave her a hug and thanked her for coming. It meant a lot to have support along the way.
Mile 5-6: 10:37, 10:33
I kept going, feeling pretty good. I made sure to stop at every water stop to keep myself hydrated, mixing water and lemon lime Gatorade (my fav!) The weather was warming up a bit, but I held onto my gloves because I knew I’d need them for later when I’d probably be freezing. At mile 6 I decided I’d go ahead of the pace group. I had no intention of sprinting to catch the 4:30 group, but I wanted to give myself a time gap to fall into.
Mile 7-10: 11:09, 11:06, 10:57, 10:57
I started to remember this part of the course from last year. We went through Bexley, German Village and by Capital University. Lots of crowd support and some wonderful signs to put a smile on my face. I was a quarter of the way done and did a quick check on how I was feeling; legs were good, breathing was good, my mindset was good. I took my first Clif shot around mile 8, because at this point, I was already hungry. I was thankful that I was in a much better place mentally for this race than previously. I was at a steady pace and I had yet to walk.
Mile 11-13: 14:23, 11:05, 10:51
At mile 11 I had to break my pace and stop at the port-o-pots, I was definitely drinking lots of water. I spent a while waiting for one to open up, but it was ok, I wasn’t in a rush, I still had a long way to go. We were now getting close to the half way point, and there were more spectators and a great energy. I couldn’t help but be excited that my race wasn’t over yet. I asked myself, could I do that again? Sure, I felt like I had only run a few miles, I would feel good for at least another 5.
The closer we got to the the turn off point, the more I was surrounded by half marathoners. I panicked thinking I forgot to take a turn, I couldn’t see a single marathoner anywhere near me. Right then I saw the sign for the turn off, followed by Darren on the sidewalk taking pictures as I went by. I smiled, I felt good, I was so glad he made it to the race. I was running the second half. I was running a marathon.
Mile 14-16: 10:54, 12:17, 13:32
After the half marathoners turned off I felt alone, most of the runners disappeared as well as the crowds. I felt like High Street was going on forever and I had no idea how long it would take to get to the Shoe. I stopped to stretch, and take some more sport beans. I could feel my body starting to tighten. It was starting to wear down a bit as I got closer to mile 16, and I knew this would be a turning point. The next miles would be my longest run ever, distance and time wise. My pace slowed down, but I wasn’t too worried yet. In mile 16 I suddenly felt weak, my hands started shaking and I felt that if I continued to run a few more steps I would pass out. I stopped. I drank a bunch of water, ate some sport beans and ate the only Gu I had left in my FlipBelt. I didn’t know if I would get to the finish.
Mile 17-18: 12:58, 12:11
I started to do a walk/jog combination for the next couple of miles to get my energy level back to where it should be. As long as I was moving, I would be ok. At this point in the race we were approaching the stadium, and I was excited for my chance to run through it. We came around campus and over a bridge to a winding path around the side. It was an amazing feeling come into the Shoe, but it was a short run through. Darren was there somewhere, but I didn’t look around. I just had to keep going. As soon as we entered, we left and would enter the darkest miles of the race.
Mile 19-21: 14:31, 17:57, 14:06
I honestly struggled from mile 17 to mile 21. But mile 19-21 were my slowest miles for sure. I went back and forth between walking and running. I felt like I was going to get sick, and wasn’t sure if I was better off running or walking. I felt miserable. Running a marathon was miserable. And it was hard. I was exhausted, hungry and in a lot of pain. I kept counting down the miles until I would finally be done. But I never once wanted to quit. I knew I had to keep going, I wasn’t going to give up. Right around mile 20 I stopped at the port-o-pots again, I felt over hydrated, but I clearly wasn’t. I thought I was going to get sick and didn’t know if I’d have energy to get me through the last 6 miles. I looked in the mirror and told myself to get it together. Yes, it was hard. But I signed up for this. And I wasn’t alone, there were plenty of other people that were hurting. I couldn’t give up now.
Mile 22-24: 15:26, 12:26, 12:15
Somehow, someway I got to mile 22. Because I don’t know Columbus very well, I never knew where I was in relation to the map or the city. I took more sport beans and told myself I had four more miles, just four more! I started to find a pace that was decent, I was feeling good all things considering. I kept going, and going. I felt almost free, a second wind. Everyone around me was walking, but I didn’t want to, I didn’t need to. I tried to figure out how I would approach the last couple of miles. I stopped at one of the water tables and filled up my hand held, I knew I would need as much water as I could get. I spoke with a gentleman who was also struggling. It was his first marathon and he was having IT problems, we shared the same thought that yes this was hard, but we’ve had a good day weather wise and the course was pretty flat. We had two miles left, and we were going to make it.
Mile 25-26: 12:53, 16:23
I took my ear buds out at mile 25. I wanted to cherish that last 1.2 miles of the race. I had come this far, I wanted to make sure I remembered the finish forever. I saw finishers walking to cheer others on with the medal around their necks, I wanted that. A half mile to go and the sun was shining. I took my last sport bean to have just enough energy to get me across the line. I could see the amount of spectators growing. The closer we got the the louder everything became. I started to get teary eyed, I was working myself up and I had to calm down. As I was approaching the turn, I heard my name called and let out the tears. I was going to finish a marathon! As soon as I turned the corner, I had to stop. I was going to get sick, not once, but twice. Nothing. I told myself to stop it, this is embarrassing. You’re fine, and you’re going to get up and finish this race. A few hundred feet from the finish, I had the energy of someone who had fresh legs, I picked it up and sprinted. I crossed the line. I finished. I finished a marathon.
I was crying and smiling. A volunteer placed a medal around my neck and told me congratulations. I heard my name called, it was Darren. I went to the fence and as he reached over for my hand, I saw tears, something I’ve seen only one other time. He told me how proud he was of me. It was the absolute best moment, such an incredible feeling. I walked towards the food, got my picture taken and let out a big sigh of relief. I was officially a marathoner.
I grabbed a small snack and got a massage. I was in a lot of pain, but at that moment I felt nothing. I wasn’t tired, I wasn’t sore, I was in a daze. I stood around to take in everything. I was an hour off my goal time, but I finished. I gave it everything I had and left it all on the course.
Official Time: 5:28:10