Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Goodbye, Columbus

Goodbye, Columbus is the title of a great short story by Philip Roth.  I read it at some point during college and then again a few years ago.  I really loved the feel of the story - young love that grows and fades.  I think it popped into my mind again this weekend because everything about Columbus Marathon seemed a bit different to me.  I was not nearly as enthused as I have been in the past and my training was certainly not up to par. Although I originally set out saying that I would like to do 10 consecutive Columbus marathons I am now thinking that it might be time to say Goodbye.  Fifteen thousand runners : 10 in the half and 5 in the full. 

The BAD:  Crazy traffic getting into the expo, nothing spectacular (and no chocolate milk!) at the expo, poor sleep at the hotel, more crazy traffic getting to the start, and a humongous CROWD at the start.  We usually have had time to enjoy the band and hang out for awhile but this year I did not even use a port-a-pot.  Just jammed my way into the corral with about 15 minutes to spare. 

The GOOD:  Fireworks at the start, fabulous entertainment and spectators as always, superb weather,  I did not walk and I did not cry.

Here are the splits: 
10K @ 56.02
13.1 miles @ 1:58.54
20 miles @ 3:03.33
Finish Line @ 4:01.59
The old dog paw sign from San Diego!  Makes spotting my peeps real easy!

My finishing time was exactly where I expected it to be.  I have never been so worked up about a race before.  I know how hard I have worked for my 3 sub-four hour finishes and I knew that mentally I was not up for the beating this year.  I also put a lot of thought into the message I am sending to my daughters.  They really struggle with putting undue pressure on themselves to perform in school and sports.  I swear I do not know where they got that from!  Jerry?  I realized before the race that I was talking nonstop about whether I could go under 4 hours.  I was being negative and incredibly hard on myself.  This is not the pattern I want to set up for my girls.   They both sort of gave it to me on Saturday with a verbal scolding.  I took their words to heart and incredibly felt the four-hour monkey melt away during the race.  With every mile I became more determined to have a great day and stay positive.  I knew from the splits that I was a couple of minutes off pace and made a cognizant decision to not give a rat's behind (as my momma would say!) and just stay the course.  Instead I focused on not walking and not crying.  I don't care how many marathons a person does - it hurts like HECK and there is NOTHING easy about it.   I may never get to Boston but I am okay with that too.  Truth be told if I did qualify I would have to make the difficult decision of whether or not it would be worth the money to sign up and take the family there.  I can think of a lot of other places we would like to go.  Not to mention that this morning there are a lot of sad runner faces who got shut out of Boston registration.  Not me though, I'm still smiling!

The results summary is really great this year.  It indicates that during the last six miles I passed a total of 255 people and only 10 people passed me!  I really really love that!

Quick bottle exchange at mile 20!

Just after mile 26.  Happy moms make happy kids!

Marathon #10 complete!  They still love me!
I am really looking forward to choosing my next race.  Maybe I can stop obsessing over colleges for Gina and start researching race venues.  Or maybe I can combine a race with a college visit!  Hey kids now that would be fun!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ten Days Till Columbus

My tenth marathon is now ten days away!  This afternoon I headed out for a nice 4 miler down the bike path.  Apparently I was not the only one in need of some fresh air and sunshine.  I saw at least six snakes, a big old toad and a tiny turtle.  The past few days of cool, rainy weather seemed a cruel hint of what is to come.  It's hard to believe that winter could be just around the corner.

But first I have to make sure that marathon #10 goes down in the books.  To be honest, I don't really have any huge expectations for the day.  There are a few things I am really looking forward to:  the awesome excitement at the start of this marathon, the great entertainment during the first half of the course, the Ohio National Guard band on High Street, the super friendly faces (especially my 3 peeps) all along the course, and definitely the downhill to the FINISH LINE!  I am trying not to think about the things I am not looking forward to:  being super cold at the start, the constant mental battle of what lies ahead, the lonely feeling of the second half when more than half the crowd turns to finish the half marathon, my legs turning to mush, my feet feeling like they were run over by a truck, the lump in my stomach and throat for last 5K, the sound of the pace group coming up behind me, not being able to pee for four hours!

You would think by now I know the drill, but the element of the unknown can be overwhelming.  I know that I will get to the start with the plan to just let the day unfold.  I don't know what else I could possibly do.  I will take with me my mental arsenal of positive thoughts and inspiring images of family and friends.  I will think of Jerry and how amazing it is that he can run a 100 mile race.  I will think of Abby and how she plows and pukes her way through middle school cross country.  I will remember Gina and the thousands of miles she has put into swimming and how good it makes her feel.  I will think of my mom and my dad for reasons too numerous to count.  My sister and her victory over breast cancer.  My sister-in-law who was supposed to be running with me but was injured.  My friend Veronica who kicked Boston in the butt this year as her mom was fighting in a hospital for every breath.  My friends JP and Maria who will be running the half marathon and hopefully loving every minute of it.  And many many more faces will pop into my head throughout the day and I will cherish the thought of each one.  Who knows, with any luck I just might make some new friends along the way.