Monday, October 22, 2012

Columbus Marathon (Half) Review

Buckeye Striders from left to right: Barb, Cindy K, Deb, Nancy, me and Pat.
The temps were in the low 40s as my friends and I headed to the start of the Columbus Marathon at 6:30 Sunday morning. Though chilly, the skies were clear and there was no wind. It looked like it would be a perfect day for a half marathon!

Because we are walkers, we went straight to the last corral -- corral F. This year the last corral was on High Street around the corner from the starting line instead of straight down Broad Street. Unfortunately, the speaker pointed in our direction was shorting out, so we couldn't hear much. We could hear that music was playing, but we couldn't hear anything through that speaker. I hate when we can't hear the National Anthem.

The start was signaled by the shooting of a cannon and fireworks. Though very cool, we couldn't see much of it because we were around the corner. The cannon went off three or four times with fireworks following. I heard that the start would be slightly staggered with fireworks for each start and that seemed to be what was going on.

I tossed my throwaway sweatshirt as we approached the starting line and accidentally tossed my gloves, too. I regretted losing my gloves as my hands were cold for most of the race.

The women's half marathon shirt
with medal and bib.
Because I had a goal in mind, we were looking for the 3:00 pacer and found him pretty easily. (He was with the 6:00 full marathon pacer.) My intention was to walk with the pacers until mile 10, then go as fast as I could for the last 3 miles. My entire group of friends -- Deb, Barb, Pat, Nancy and Cindy -- started together and tried to keep the pacer in sight.

Our first mile was 14:19, which was way too slow for my goal. The pacers picked up the pace and our second mile was in 13:10. Their pace was inconsistent, so I decided to get ahead of them and do the best I could on my own.

Pat, Nancy and I were together for a couple of miles. In Bexley we passed the Governor's mansion and some lovely neighborhoods! Around mile 4 I started to move ahead of them. We also met a nice powerwalker named Jane from Cincinnati. She and I were together for a couple of miles until we looped back onto Broad Street.

The course changed around Franklin Park. We used to go along the back and around the west side of the park. This time we came around the front of the park hitting Broad Street much earlier than in previous years. It was nice to go around the front for a change.

Around mile 6 I made a pit stop and afterward was back with Pat and Nancy for a little bit on Broad Street. (My delay was only about 1 min.) I picked up my pace and I caught up with Jane again right before we hit Olde Town. I love the homes in Olde Town and one of the first houses on the left always has a big marathon party that looks like a lot of fun.

We went through German Village, the Catholic Priest gave me a high five, and then we were back on High Street heading north toward the Arena District for the last 2 miles. I love hitting High Street at this point in the race because I know it is almost finished! I tried to pick up my pace.

The crowds on High Street get bigger and louder the closer you get to the Arena District and the final turn. This is my favorite part of the race -- the half marathoners turn to the finish, the full marathoners keep going straight. As you turn, you can see the finish line and the crowds are great! It is so exciting!

Me celebrating my new PR: 2:53:58!
I pushed  harder and harder and felt great! I finished mile 12 in 12:45 and mile 13 in 12:25! I finished with another PR -- 2:53:58! three minutes faster than last year's PR of 2:57!

After crossing the finish line, I received my medal, a silver blanket and a bottle of water. At this point I had a difficult time breathing for about 5 seconds, and it was over. While waiting for the other Buckeye Striders, my legs ached horribly. I'm not sure why they hurt, but it didn't feel like cramps.

Pat and Nancy were a couple of minutes behind me. I waited with Steve, who was just a couple of minutes ahead of me. We were handed chocolate milk, a bag with some food in it and as we walked through the food area, we were handed bagels, bananas and cookies. It was very well organized. At this point it seemed as if there should have been plenty of food for all of the full marathoners!

Those of us who finished the earliest went to Celebration Village to turn in our Competitive Walker bibs and to wait at our designated meeting spot. The walker booth was much easier to find this year with a prominent sign. It was VERY crowded and pretty uncomfortable waiting in this park. As soon as everyone was together, we left.

A highlight of this year's race is the team up with Nationwide Children's Hospital. As part of this partnership, each mile of the race featured a patient hero treated at Children's. The children were so inspiring and many of them were on the course cheering us on! Some miles had tons of people cheering with the patient hero! Mile 12 was the Angel Mile -- in memory of many children who died. I was impressed with the number of family members at this spot cheering. I'm not sure I could have done it if I had been in their shoes.

I was also impressed with the large number of bands and musical entertainment! From a bagpiper to members of the OSU alumni band, folk singers and rock bands! I always love seeing the Army band near the Statehouse. I missed the steel drum group that we usually see not too far from Franklin Park.

Overall, it was a very successful event! The weather was perfect, the course was nice, there were plenty of bands and the finish line was exciting! The shirt is great, the medal is very nice and there was plenty of food and it looked as if there would be plenty for late finishers!

I won free entry into the race this year, so I can't really comment on the cost. That said, I would have entered regardless. Over the past couple of years this race has improved in quality every single year. I can't wait to see what they do to up the ante next year!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Competitive Walker Division -- Columbus Marathon

If you plan to be a "competitive walker" at this year's Columbus Marathon October 21, don't forget to pick up your sticker for your front bib. Here are the instructions:

Competitive Walker Division Rules
All participants in the Competitive Walker Division must wear a special sticker on the front of their shirt and a special bib on the back of their shirt on Race Day. Judges will be located on the course. Any participant in the Competitive Walker Division seen running will be ineligible for Competitive Walking Division Awards.

The Competitive Walking Division stickers and bibs can be picked up at the Competitive Walking Division table at the Expo. This table will be located next to Number Pick-up.

ONLY those walkers interested in competing for awards must wear the sticker and second bib; walkers taking part in the marathon and 1/2 marathon who are not competing in the Competitive Walking Division do NOT need a sticker or second bib.

Following the Race, each participant in the Competitive Walker Division will be required to write his or her name and race number on their back bib, and turn it in to the information table in Celebration Village for verification. Those participants who fail to turn in their bib will be ineligible for awards.

NOTE: Last year, it was a little bit difficult to find where to pick up the sticker and bib and where to turn them in at Celebration Village. Keep your eyes open!

The race is sold out, but here is the website in the event you still need it:

Wouldn't Have Missed It!

The deer were too far away to photograph and I didn't want to take a picture of the exact same trail I always photograph. So, these are pretty trees in Sharon Woods park. This photo does not capture how beautiful this park is in the fall.
Yesterday morning, I overslept! I set the time on my alarm clock, but somehow forgot to turn the alarm clock on.

Luckily for me, my friend Deb, who I was supposed to meet at 7:30 at Sharon Woods, called me at 7:28. She started without me, but I was able to meet up with her and the other Buckeye Striders at 8:00.

It was an absolutely beautiful morning! The temps were perfect, there was no wind, the sun was coming up, the sky was blue... We saw plenty of deer including a young buck with tiny antlers starting to show.

It is mornings like this that just make me happy to be out walking with good friends! I'm so glad I didn't miss it!

Because the Columbus Marathon is next weekend, this week's goal was to do 8 easy miles. I ended up doing only 6, but we did a good job of taking it easy. Our pace was between 14 and 14:30 per mile.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Beautiful Morning for 15K - Scioto Miles Race Review

The race started and finished across the river from
downtown Columbus. It was beautiful!
It was a beautiful morning for a 15K race! The temps were in the high 40s, no rain, no wind -- and when the sun popped up over the downtown buildings, it was even more beautiful.

Me with, from the left, Nancy,
Deb and Pat.
The Scioto Miles race started in downtown Columbus along the river behind COSI. We had distance options of 5K, 10K or 15K. The Buckeye Striders walking club had members in all three distances, with most doing the 15K. (Several of us are training for the Columbus Marathon Half and this race fit perfectly in our training schedule.) I walked most of this race with Striders Pat and Nancy.

The course winds through both Genoa and Audubon parks and along the Scioto Mile. I don't spend much time downtown and had no idea how beautiful these parks are! It was fun seeing parts of our city as a visitor and being impressed.

The race is three loops through the parks, with the course shifting slightly for the second loop to give a full tour of the parks. The course is on streets, sidewalks, a wooden section over water, and asphalt and gravel walking trails. Because it is a loop, runners end up passing on the left. Parts are out and back, so there are athletes heading toward you in sections, too. Some of the trails are narrow, so we had to be single file sometimes to give other athletes room to get around us. Most of the runners were finished shortly after we started the third loop giving us more room. Despite the course being crowded, most of the runners were nice and many even cheered us on.

In a tree-lined section, there were leaves on the asphalt, which were a little bit slippery. Going down the slight hill here, we had to be careful.

We started out much faster than our goal pace -- we were at 13:05, but our goal was 13:20. I timed each mile (I always do, but I had a goal pace this race.), so it was when we hit the 7-mile marker that I realized there was not a 6-mile marker.We had one very slow mile at 13:49, the rest were mostly faster than our plan.

When we got to mile 9, Nancy and I tried to catch a woman walking ahead of us. As soon as we started to catch up, she started running and we couldn't catch her. Nancy was very fast and reached the finish line more than 10 seconds before I did. Pat started to lose steam and was about a minute behind us. 

Throughout, music was blasting from speakers in the starting area, which helped to keep everyone moving each loop. It was nice that the sound carried across the river so we could hear it on both sides.

The finish line was at the same place as the starting line, behind COSI. There were not many people at our pace, but the finish line was still up and there was still plenty of water, chocolate milk, bananas and granola bars left. There was so much chocolate milk leftover, we each took home half a gallon!

Technical shirts in women's sizes and
in a great color!
This was a well organized and beautiful race. Though the course was often too crowded, it was not so crowded as to be a problem for us. (I don't know what the runners thought about it.) The after food was not exciting, but it was fine. And the good thing is, there was plenty of it.

This race was the second of a two-part series. Everyone who signed up for both races received a shirt for each race and a backpack water carrier. (Like a Camelback.) I didn't do the first race. Still, the entry fee was reasonable at $35 this week and the shirt is nice!

Other than the course being a little bit crowded, I really liked this event! I think there could have been one more water stop, but it was not a huge problem. For people who were faster than us, it was probably the perfect spacing. The only other problem was that my "official" results has my finish time than a minute different from my watch and has Pat finishing ahead of me. I sent an email asking if it is possible they switched our results.

So, based on registration fee, quality of shirt and overall race experience, I would recommend this race! And if you are doing a fall marathon or half marathon, the timing couldn't be better.

By my watch, my finish time was 2:03:32. "Official" time was 2:04:29.
Mile 1 - 13:05
Mile 2 - 13:18
Mile 3 - 13:49
Mile 4 - 13:40
Mile 5 - 13:25
Mile 6 & 7 - 27:08 (13:34 each?)
Mile 8 - 13:14
Mile 9 - 12:54 (We purposely picked up the pace.)
Final 0.3 Mile - 2:55
Total 2:03:32 for an average of 13:15 to 13:16 per mile

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Race Review -- Cat Caper 5K

Sunday, September 30 I entered the Cat Caper 5K Race. Because I am not a cat person, I have never entered this race before. However, a friend of mine is the race director so a bunch of us entered this year.

This 5K is such a fun event, I wish I had entered years earlier! There were more than 400 people in the race and a large number were walkers.There were at least 10 Buckeye Striders entered.

The course was challenging! The last mile seemed to be nearly entirely uphill. Despite that, I had a great race and set a new 5K PR!

I walked the entire race with my friend Pat who kept me moving, even up the hills. Our first mile was 12:36, second was somewhere around 12:23 and the final mile (mostly uphill) was 12:57 for a finish time of 39:12. Though Pat was ahead of me up the big hill, I passed her in the final stretch and finished about 15 seconds ahead of her. This is the first time I have beat Pat and the finish was good enough for me to take third place woman walker! If it was possible to win more than one prize, I would have taken first in my age group!

After the race with my third place mug!
The handmade coffee mug was a great prize!

A pancake breakfast was available after the race. Though they looked delicious, I was more in the mood for the bagels. There were plenty of bagels, bananas and granola bars.

Though a good course and plenty of food, the best thing about this race is the support from the community. There was a raffle/silent auction with some amazingly wonderful prizes that were donated -- Rossi Pasta, Great Harvest Bread, restaurant coupons, pet toys, tickets to sporting events.... I was stunned. After buying raffle tickets, you were able to pick and choose which items you wanted the chance to win by dropping your ticket in a bag next to the prize.

Unfortunately, I had to leave early and did not get to see who won the prizes.

If you like 5K races, this one is for a good cause, has great community support and gives participants a good value for the entry fee! Mark your calendars for next year!