Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Half Marathon Recap!

Photos by OHventures

After months of training, including many setbacks and triumphs, the day had finally come for my very first half marathon, the Capital City Half Marathon in downtown Columbus.

The days before the race, I carb loaded with pasta and bread, stretched, and did some "mini runs" of 1-3 miles a piece. Attending the American Cancer Society DetermiNation Team Dinner at Buca di Beppo on Thursday night had helped not only fuel me with food, but fuel me with fire and determination.

The night before the big race, I went to bed extra early to ensure that I had a good night's sleep. I had a rabble of butterflies rumbling in my stomach and I had my fair share of tossing and turning in bed, fearing that I hadn't adequately trained, or that I would be too tired to complete the 13.1 miles before me.

When the alarm went off at 5:45 AM on May 5, 2012, it seemed that all of those nerves had been replaced with excitement and adrenaline. I showered, changed into my running shoes and singlet, and had a small breakfast consisting of a banana, almonds, and a 5 Hour Energy shot.

Expecting chaos in downtown Columbus, I had mapped out the best way to get to the parking deck near the Columbus Commons, where the finish line would be. It was not a bad drive at all, as I live just 15 minutes or so from all of the action. Because I had raised over $1,000 for the American Cancer Society, I was deemd a "VIP" runner and given a free parking pass, which was very helpful.

It was a beautiful morning, with a slight breeze by the starting line (located by the Scioto River). The sky was overcast and, while it was a bit humid, it was better than the bright sun beating down on us, or pouring rain!

Arriving at the American Cancer Society tent in the park, I met up with my team for a group photo and a much needed prayer. I wisely utilized the port-a-potty before the race (TMI?), attached my bib number (2108), and headed to the corral. To get myself in the zone, I threw on my iPod (attached to my arm band), and did some last minute ballistic stretching.

Once the horn was sounded, all 13,000 runners - or 26,000 sneakers - pounded the pavement, with folks cheering and applauding all around! This was it! The energy and excitement practically had me floating during the first mile of the race, as I high-fived my friends who were cheering me on by North Bank Park.

The first mile zoomed by with no problem, and I even passed over the first refueling station, as my spirits were too high to slow down! The course headed west on Spring/US 33/Dublin Road, past the post office to Twin Rivers Rd. Along the way were fun bands and DJs, and soon the 2nd mile pit stop, where I grabbed a Dixie cup of water.

As we neared the third mile, we headed north on Olentangy River Road. My morale was boosted by soldiers walking the course in their full fatigues, shaking hands and giving encouragement as they proudly carried the American flag. I also popped my first helping of "runner's goo" that I brought with me in my pocket. The goo helped replenish my electrolytes and give me a surge of energy.

Between miles 4 and 5, our course took us east on Lane Avenue. The familiar sights of Ohio State's campus, including my old college dorm and of course the Ohio Stadium, kept my mind off of running, and instead on a journey through nostalgia. High school marching bands and dance teams lining the streets also put an extra pep in my step as I neard High Street.

Running south on High Street for miles 5.5-8 was the best part of the entire course! Not only was it slightly downhill, but this is also where I got to see dozens of familiar faces of friends and acquaintances who were rooting for me as I whizzed by! Each time I saw a friend, my pace increased with happiness! This is where I saw my friends Joe, Ryan, Allison, Josh (AKA) Butters, Matt, Cribb, Nathan, Deanna, and Alex peppered along High Street on campus and the Short North. I took a quick restroom break, had some more runner's goo, and grabbed a water bottle from a friend.
It was then, at mile 9, as we ran east and south toward German Village, where I started to slow down. My knee (which I had injured during training) had suddenly started to act up. The pain became too severe, and I was forced to walk for mile 10, as well as a large portion of mile 11. Needless to say, this was the worst part of the run and the lowest moment for me that day. To get through the pain, I thought of all of those who had donated to my cause, all of the people I saw cheering me on earlier in the race, and all of the hard work I had put into training the past few months.

With positive thoughts, as well as encouragement from strangers in the crowd, I finally got running again in German Village, near Katzinger's and Schiller Park. I conjured up enough strength to run the final stretch of the race (albeit slowly and with a wincing face). Miles 12 and 13 were challenging, as we circled back north on High Street to the finish line.

My eyes lit up and my pace became quicker when the glorious finish line was finally in sight. Roars of the crowd whisked me to the end and I threw my hands in the air in sheer satisfaction! My final time was 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 19 seconds.
When all is said and done, my time was fantastic, given that I had to walk a large portion of the race due to injury. Although my knee throbbed (I went to first aid to get an ice pack shortly after finishing), I was not out of breath or nauseous. I was grateful that my stamina, endurance and running abilities were up to par and that - above all else - I was able to complete the race!

I soon met up with my closest friends who also participated in the half marathon (Joe, Faye, Spenser, Lyndsey, Rachel, Jason, Christina and Caroline) so that we could take victory photographs together and grab a flute of champagne to celebrate.

Hobbling around the park at the finish line, I had a great sense of euphoria for the great feat I had completed. Looking back, it's hard to believe that I ran that far of a distance, but it's a pretty awesome feeling! Will I do it again? Time will tell. But for now, I am just happy to scratch this off of my bucket list and lay around for a few weeks!

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