Race Report: Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon 2013 (Columbus, OH)
· Date: 10/20/2013
· Goal: 3:17
· Time: 3:14:20
· Overall Place: 361/5512
· Age Group Place: 59/432
As wonderful as it is traveling to different places for a race, it is also wonderful to run a race in your home city. Sleeping in your own bed. No long days in the car. Having a normal schedule. This weekend, we had that. Terese and I headed to the expo on Friday night with our minds only partially there and our hearts 750 miles away. Earlier that day, our good friends Nic and Molly lost their daughter, Evelyn, only 12 hours after she was born. The news was a shock, as you could imagine. With there being nothing we could do to help, we prayed for them. Nobody deserves the pain of losing a child. Thankfully, they have each other and they have God.
We left the expo, got dinner, and relaxed. The only thing on my agenda for Saturday (other than some stuff around the house), was a shakeout run. After that run, we got the typical pre-race meal (pizza), and turned it in early. It was finally race day. I’d put in a lot of work for this race. We got ready and Terese drove me to the start line. If you’ve read my previous race reports, you know that time management is not my forte. I’ve made a habit out of having to run to the corral for the start. It seems that each time I get to the starting area early, I stand in a massive line for the porta-potty. My last two races have started with me waiting in that line, but getting creative and finding somewhere else to go. This time, I wasn’t wasting any time. Half a block from where Terese dropped me off, I turned onto a small, vacant street and ducked in beside a dumpster. It wasn’t until after I got back to the main road without seeing any police cars that I felt any relief.
Now at the starting line with plenty of time to spare, I positioned myself where I wanted to be in the corral and re-tied my shoes a couple times (as always). After a few words from the race director, the Mayor of Columbus, and the CEO of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, it was time for the National Anthem. Some well-timed pyrotechnics made parts of the anthem (rockets red glare, bombs bursting in air) a visual experience. It was pretty cool. After the wheel-chair participants took off, it was our turn. “Oh crap, I need to start my Garmin!” As I’m acquiring satellites…
BANG. We all took a few quick steps ahead and then nearly ran over each other as everything came to a massive slow down. Everybody who has run a couple races is familiar with this phenomenon. Why it happens, who knows. I crossed the starting line and started my watch about 30 seconds afterward (damn satellites). I had a plan for each mile of this race. Two 8:00 miles, twenty-two 7:30 miles, and the final 2.2 in 7:15 pace. I ran the first one right around that 8:00 pace and decided to forego the second half of my slow start, settling in at about a 7:30 pace. I quickly decided to shed the t-shirt I had on under my long-sleeve. The temp at the start was 39 F, so it was a bit chilly. It turned out to be perfect racing weather. I saw Terese for the first time around mile 2.5 and was able to hand the shirt off then.
We continued down Broad St. for a bit and then turned off to do a “lolli-pop” on some smaller residential roads. I was having a bit of a tough time keeping things around 7:30 pace. I felt good and my legs wanted to go faster. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to stop myself from going too nuts. Miles 4, 5, and 6 went by in 7:16, 7:24, and 7:15. At some point during those miles, I saw Frankie Hejduk cheering with a group of people decked out in Crew gear. I would later find out that he was with one of the Miracle Mile Patients. That’s awesome. Right around mile 7, as we turned back onto Broad St., I saw Terese cheering and taking pictures. I provided some camera material by putting both hands in the air and giving a big smile (I know, I’m wild and crazy) before making my way over for her to hand me some Gu. Mile 10 brought us into German Village, one of the most historic parts of the city. We passed some familiar places and actually ran some of the same path as one of my long training runs. Thinking back on that training run and knowing I’d put the miles in preparing for this race gave me some confidence.
I had broken this race out into 5 sections, the first 4 being 6 miles long and the last being 2.2. I made a pace band with my splits, total time, and the name of the Miracle Mile patient at the end of each section. The first 6 were for Addie. Now, I was coming into mile 12: the Angel Mile. This mile in the race is dedicated to all of the Angels who are no longer here with us. As I ran, I prayed for all the Angels and their families and friends, especially for Evelyn and her family. Terese really wanted to see this mile so she was there as well. She yelled as I went by but I never even saw her!
We continued down High Street, now moving more into my neck of the woods and I was clicking off miles right around 7:20 pace. We hit the Ohio State University campus and made our way to the Horseshoe (Ohio State football stadium). We ran in one corner, along the end zone, and out another. This is probably a bigger highlight for OSU fans, but it was pretty cool for me as well. The place is massive. Shortly after this, I saw Owen and his crew. Owen is the Miracle Mile patient for this section of the race. Each patient has a mile, but Owen represented miles 13-18 for me. Miles 18-20 brought us back over the Olentangy River and provided some elevation change that slowed me down a bit. I still felt pretty strong though. My pace picked back up as we ran through Upper Arlington and Grandview Heights and miles 21-24 average 7:17.
Mile 25… it was time to pick up the pace. We were about 2 blocks from my house… things couldn’t have been more comfortable. I was wrong. We turned onto Neil Ave. and followed my main daily running route, running down Neil and along Goodale Park. Here I was, running the most difficult part of the race on a route I’ve done many times. This was awesome. The 3:15 pacer had been in my sights for a long time, but I tried not to push it just to catch him. As I closed in on him, I knew I was running out of territory. He was looking back, motioning for those close enough to catch up and pass him. Despite feeling like I might vomit, I kept up the pace and passed him, finishing the last half mile at 6:20 pace. My final time was 3:14:20.
Shortly after crossing the finish line, I hear “Jeff!” coming from the side. I turn to see my wife (who is in her third trimester) standing on a garbage or something so that she can see over an 8 foot fence and yell, “You did it!!!” Haha. As always, thanks to my wonderful wife for supporting me through training and the race.