Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Columbus Marathon Review

Sunday's Columbus Marathon Half was fantastic!

The temps were in the low 50s when we arrived at the starting line. Because I am always way too cold, I was wearing a throw-away sweat shirt and a trash bag over my long-sleeved technical shirt. Deb did convince me to wear shorts.

As soon as we got there, we noticed the lines for the Port-a-johns were horrible! I was really worried we wouldn't get through before the start of the race. We must have picked the right line because we both got through relatively quickly. (Whew!)

While waiting for the start of the race, the sound system was great! In Corral F -- right before the last corral -- we could hear the Danger Brothers playing, we heard the National Anthem and we heard the start! (Well, a cannon was shot off, so I would hope we would hear it regardless.) The coolest part was the fireworks going off!

As participants approached the actual starting line, a live feed of all of us crossing the starting line was broadcast on a big screen across from the band stage. I raised my arms and waved, but I didn't see me in the crowd. Very cool!

The first mile of any race is rough. Too many walkers and runners who do not know how slow they are and too many runners go too far back. Add to this that lots of people in the front corrals tossed clothes, and we had to watch our step. Still, we hit mile marker one in 13:48.

Early on I tossed my sweatshirt.

As we went up Broad St., we passed the walking pacers who obviously lined up in the wrong spot. None of us walkers in the back could find pacers (other than 2:45) before the race.

In Bexley, the 3:00 pacer passed us and was at a slightly faster pace to make up for being behind early on. (He got stuck in a back corral and had trouble picking up his pace.) We could not maintain his acceleration pace at this point, we let him pass but we kept him in sight for the entire rest of the race. At this point Deb and I met a really nice woman named Debbie, who also wanted to finish in under 3 hours and couldn't keep up with the pacer either. She ended up staying with me till the end.

Somewhere before mile 8, Deb started to slow and said to go ahead. We had an agreement before the race, and it was OK with her that I went on ahead. I turned around periodically and did see her for a while.

In Olde Town there were tons of people on the porch of one house partying and cheering. It was neat that all of those neighbors got together to cheer us on!

Somewhere around Olde Town, we heard sirens and a firetruck and two squads were given the right of way and we were moved onto the sidewalk for a short stretch. We saw paramedics working on a man, but I just couldn't look. I never did hear what happened or how he did.

The rest of the race was very fun and uneventful. We saw great water stops, heard great music and there were plenty of great signs held by cheering crowds. One of my favorites held by a little boy said "Worst Parade Ever." (So cute!) There seemed to be much more crowd support this year than in previous years. We saw a couple different groups of people more than once, which was fun.

We turned onto High Street and the wind picked up. Lucky for us, it was at our back and almost helped us move faster. It did feel quite a bit colder than earlier in the race. Most of High Street is a slight uphill. Despite this, we kept up the pace and kept the 3-hour pacer in our sights!

At mile 12, I decided to see if I could go faster. I pushed hard and when I made that left-hand turn to the finish line, pushed even harder. Debbie tried to keep up with me and ended up jogging a few steps to pick up her pace. We did mile 13 in only 12:25! Really excited at that point, I crossed the finish line with a watch time of 2:57:19! More than 2 minutes under my goal of 3 hours!

With me after the race are Deb (middle) and Pat.
We got our medals and silver blankets (really needed), grabbed water and I ran into other Buckeye Striders who finished in about the same amount of time I did, but were just enough ahead of me in the corral that I never caught them.

The food line was efficient. We were each handed a bag with food in it. However, the food in the bag was not very exciting. I had a bag of cheese curls, a chocolate cookie, an orange, granola bar and some energy chews. We did get chocolate milk which is one of my favorite recovery foods! Though I appreciate that we got food at all, I didn't eat any of it -- I just drank the milk.

There was a security guard working hard to keep family and friends from blocking the exit out of the food area. The exit was huge, so I cannot believe that there were so many people standing there that we still could not get out. It was so much better than last year and the guard was doing his best.

It took quite a while to find where we were supposed to turn in our Competitive Walker bibs. When we finally found it, the process was easy. I can't wait to see how it is going to work. The results haven't been posted yet.

The after-race party in Celebration Village was very crowded. A band was playing and it could have been fun, but we were cold and it was difficult to get around, so we left fairly early.

Overall, the Columbus Marathon Half was a great event! Though there were a couple hiccups with pacers and after-race food, there is a lot to like about this race.

What I especially like is that the race director listens to the participants. He heard people complain about the food distribution last year with early finishers taking too much, and he tried something new. He heard that it was hard to get out of the food area, and he tried something new. He heard that the participants in the last corrals couldn't hear the music and he tried something new. Walkers asked for awards and he tried something new.

Even if everything that is tried doesn't work, you have to admire a race director who listens and is willing to make efforts to make a race better.

And I think that is why this race gets better every year.
___________

NOTE: Because I took pictures with my iPod, many of the low-light photos did not turn out. And, because I had a speed goal, I didn't stop to take photos mid-race like I usually do.

4 comments:

Amber said...

Congrats on coming in under 3 hours!! It really was the perfect race weather. We were lined up at the very back and had trouble hearing and because I was coaching the full, I followed the last TNT person in....to find lots of chocolate milk but not quite as much food and no spectators. I agree that the race director did a great job at trying new things!

lizloses286 said...

We must have been close to each other! I also saw that poor man being put into the ambulance. Also no word on what happened. I was also disappointed with the food bag. The Air Force marathon had warm, gooey pizza after the race. It was the best. I did love the chocolate milk! Congrats on your race!

Cindi said...

Amber,

Thanks! It is really hard walking a full marathon so far back. I'm impressed! Congrats to you and all of the TNT walkers!

Cindi said...

Liz,

Thanks! I must have been right in front of you. You are right, Air Force has great after-race food. The last time I did that race I ate way too much pizza and felt queasy. (I love Rotolo's.)