Jun 9, 2009

Columbus Marathon 2007

It’s about two weeks after the Columbus Marathon and my legs are finally starting to feel better. I finally have true respect for any person that has covered 26.2 miles...no matter what their time. I can honestly say that finishing that marathon was the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. And, I can't wait to do it again.

My training leading up to this was decent. I had a few higher mileage weeks (three weeks between 55-65 miles) and I was pretty confident that I had the speed to finish within my goal, 3 hours. I just didn't know how my body would hold up 20ish miles into the race, it was unknown territory.

Race morning was beautiful! Britney was nice enough to let me and Brendan stay at her apartment, which was perfect because it was right on mile 12. Waking up that morning, I felt very good...I was just extremely nervous. It was still very dark outside when I walked out of her apartment towards High street. I had a great feeling that morning. Standing outside in the dark, staring up High street, I could only think about the next time I would be looking in this direction. It would be at mile 12 and I would be smack in the middle of the race. When I was stretching, I got that feeling like I was about to do something big... kind of like I was about to embark on this life changing journey. It felt like I was a hero about to take on the world..... and all I was about to do was run. It’s amazing how something as simple as running can change so many peoples lives. I knew at that exact moment, ten thousand other people were awake thinking about the same thing that I was. I got to the starting line a little later than I thought, but it turned out to be okay. I was also lucky enough to find my brother, dad and sister before the race started. It was nice to see them and I was really happy they decided to come all the way to Columbus to see me kill myself via running. I got myself a nice spot in the second line of runners and I waited for the gun to go off.

As the race started, I found myself running with a group of guys that were aiming for a much quicker time than me. But, I felt good and wanted to stay around them as long as possible. We clicked off mile after mile at 6:30 pace. The first half of the course is really nice and there were a lot of spectators, especially anywhere near downtown. My family saw me around mile 9, but I didn’t see them. I didn't actually notice them until the half way mark. But, it was nice to see them and at that point in the race, I felt amazing.

The next five miles were straight down High street, and it was by far the loneliness miles on the course. The field was really spread apart and I was running alone. Then, around mile 16, a guy I recognized from the River Run (he finished 3 min before me) ran by. We ran together for a little bit, but I was slowly falling off the 6:30 pace and I soon lost him. Around mile 19-20, the race changed for me. Up to mile 20, I had averaged a 6:33 pace per mile. After the hill at mile 19.5, I cramped up a little and realized I was really falling a apart. My legs started to feel heavy and my efforts were really labored. At mile 21, we started our decent back into the downtown area. It was a long downhill and I was able to pick up speed, but it destroyed my legs.

At mile 22 I was starting to drift off into another world. I saw my family again and they knew I was in pain. I heard my Mom over the speaker of my Dad's phone. That gave me hope...I really wanted to finish. Those next three miles, mile 22-25, were the hardest 3 miles of my life. I had literally slipped into another state of mind and could barely read my watch. I knew I was running much slower, but I didn't care. Every step I took was labored and the pain shot up my legs. My feet were torn up and I could feel them sliding around in blood. I had started to blister at mile 7 and ignored it all day. I could tell that the skin on my foot was all ripped off...I was in pain.

When I hit mile 25, I finally came out of my daze. I checked my watch and realized I had fallen way off pace. I wanted to still finish sub-3 hours, but I knew I would have to pick it up. Coming back into downtown really picked me up. There were thousands of people cheering and I knew I'd make it. Once I hit mile 26, I took off. I may not have been sprinting on my toes, but my legs were seriously moving. The finish chute was downhill and I really opened up my stride for it. It was the best fucking feeling I have ever experienced.. accomplishment.. until I hit the finish line. My final efforts caught up with me and puked all over the finish line and a little bit on a volunteers shoe.... then, I puked again and again. I was in really shitty shape, but I couldn't stop smiling. My legs seized up and I could barely walk. My feet were bloody and torn apart, and I felt light headed and exhausted. But, I finished in 2:59:07...under my goal. And, I qualified for the Boston Marathon by 11 minutes on my first try!!!

Overall I finished 76th out of about 3700 runners. But, more importantly I finished strong and never once thought about stopping. Now, the only thing left to do is start training my ass off because I'm going to Boston to run with the best. And, I know that I can cut at least 15 minutes off my time. It is going to be a long, long winter!

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