One Eddie George stated that running his half marathon was the hardest thing in his life. I find that highly dubious because he won a lovin’ Heisman and went to multiple Pro Bowls as an NFL player. He played running back, one of the most physically demanding positions in sport. Then again, he probably had on a good 50 pounds more than necessary.
I ran the 2012 Columbus half marathon, which feels like a long, long time ago. It was a race that I nearly didn’t run, but became a great experience and motivator for me in the future. This was back in the days of my FiveFingers minimalist shoes (even though my new shoes weigh even less). It fueled my fire for future big-city, long-distance road races.
Years and years ago, my home county, T-County if you care, starts its very own half marathon. At the time running 13.1 miles seemed like a very daunting achievement that only super humans could achieve (not that it’s super-easy today, but I can pretty much run it whenever I want, although I might not run it as well as possible). I started running a little bit with a friend, Mitch, but for whatever reason I didn’t even up running it (it is an April race; I wound have initially started training whilst attending Ohio State, which would have been at least 2008).
Anyhow, this was during the period of my life of running on-and-off depending on the season of the year. But I knew I wanted to run a half marathon on day; a marathon was not even on the radar at the time.
I started running in FiveFingers shoes in the beginning of 2012 (or you can read the previously linked article to learn more). Sometime during which I signed up for the half marathon (I signed up in the spring, because the sooner you signed up for the half marathon, the more money you saved). My body was still adjusting to the ultra-minimalist shoes, but I wanted to make it a point to run in the half marathon.
Well, my mind and body and had separate ideas. In the spring my foot decided to sustain an undiagnosed stress fracture. It kept me on the sidelines until July, when I reaggrevated my foot. Double bummer. I was, however, able to continue to do P90X, which was awesome because I was able to continue to cross train.
Toward the end of September I started to run a few blocks at a time again, to test my foot. (For those who don’t know, running barefoot, as compared to heel-landing, taxes your calves and shins to levels they’ve never experienced. It’s not uncommon for fast marathoner to only run a mile – at the most – when transitioning to barefoot running as you have to condition a different part of your body. I only ran a few blocks at a time while starting up so I could build up my leg muscles.) I got up to about ~2 miles the Thursday evening before the half marathon. Yeah, I know that that’s over ten miles shorter than a half marathon, but I felt really good. I figured that I would walk through the water stations or something.
I gave up on running the half marathon, so I didn’t request off that Sunday morning. The stars aligned for me to have the rare Sunday off, so I had no work conflict on my athletic conquest. I told some people at work and they were impressed, as who wants to run 13.1 miles? In any event, if I had to work that morning I might not have even run that half marathon.
I ended up waking up earlier than expected (I can’t remember the exact time as this is going on two-and-a-half years ago, mind you), but I was glad I did so I could move around and get ready. Plus, it’s nice to wake up on your own without that blasted
alarm clock cell phone smartphone. As I milled around, I had no idea what to expect. I left super-early – it’s nice living in the same town as you can drive there in 15 minutes – to a very early, dark, cold half marathon morning (every Columbus half marathon, and marathon, is really cold in the morning, and actually pleasant that afternoon, after you’ve finished, of course).
My body was freezing upon arrival at the Arena District. I mean I only had on shorts, Under Armor (the real deal, not the brandified name), and a baseball hat, which I seemingly only wear those while traveling abroad or during road races, go figure. I think I took three leaks during the hour or so before the race. I didn’t want to have to go during the race.
The Columbus marathon, and half marathon, officially, as both races go on simultaneously as the crazy people take a larry while running up High Street while the insane people keep up trucking, is a really big event. This year, 2015, will hold 12,000 half marathon athletes, I think, and like 7,000 marathon athletes, or so. Before the gun went off, and by gun went off I mean AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”, and other sporty-ish music, you were in starting corals of many, many runners with quite a few volunteers. One volunteer asked if I got paid. Apparently it is not common knowledge that the preponderance of runners don’t get paid, but instead have to pay, and sometimes a lot, to run. I’ve had friends question why I want to pay to run, neverminding the atmosphere and achievement of the races themselves.
It struck up a conversation with a few people while starting. I was placed in a coral that was entirely too fast for me, especially since I don’t think I ran 13.1 miles the previous six months. It was interesting that the people running the half marathon and marathon both run the first 13-ish miles together. Orange bibs run the half marathon and blue bibs run the marathon. Although I would only run the half marathon, I didn’t feel worthy next to those running 26.2 miles.
Eventually the race started. It’s kind of amusing that you jog the first few hundred feet until the actual starting point and then you start to run a little faster. (From me running the marathon, the traffic doesn’t give out until the half marathon runners exit; if you have to move up to get to your pace it can be difficult for the first few miles). I’m getting pumped just typing this!
It seemed surreal running as I started on Broad, in downtown Columbus, Ohio. I started fast-ish, but then moved to a more manageable pace. I had to take a leak soon into the race, and drained the lizard around the third mile. That little break was really good because at that point I knew I could run the whole damn race. And run the whole, damn race I did.
I had no idea how many people were out to support
me the runners. I usually run with music, but for a race like this I wouldn’t want to run because you miss out on so much of the atmosphere (plus, of that whole safely issue…). If you’ve ever seen any road race motivational posters, I saw them too! Our names are on our bibs, so I had a few people mention something positive in my direction.
It was a perfect, sunny day.
I never once started after my potty break at mile three. I didn’t even drink anything. I didn’t think I’d have the energy after mile 6 to both stop, drink some refreshing sports drink, then start again with the same pace. I averaged about a 8:40min/mi pace during my triumphant, inaugural, long-distance race, which is pretty good since I pretty much trained with Tony Horton. My stomach was doing energetic-cheerleader somersaults, but pain is temporary pride lasts forever.
I did start to feel some pain in my foot, remember that was why I didn’t train much in the first place, but this was my Super Bowl and I wasn’t going to stop until I knew it was injured, not hurt. It turned out that it was just hurting from running for miles on end, and I sustained no further injury.
The last five miles were pretty damn long. I kept thinking “are we there yet”. But I knew I had it in the bag once I hit High Street, which at the time I didn’t know it extended south past South Campus Gateway. At that point, I tried to pick up the pace as I was “almost there” (“almost there” to a distance runner, in this case, meant a 5K; I’d literally rather run a marathon than a really fast 5K — they hurt too much).
About mid-way through the half marathon I thought I could beat 2:00. (Yeah, I went from running it, but walking the water lines, to actually racing for time; I’m high-speed.) I forgot that the time displayed at each mile is the time after the start of the race, which was before I started, so I actually had about two minutes on the official time of the half marathon. But to be sure, I tried to book it. I wasn’t happy when spectators were cross at the corner of High and Nationwide — the turn of the crazy people.
I finished my half marathon in 1:53.25. Since I ran the last ten miles straight, on very little training, I felt nearly weightless! And I got a finisher’s medal, which I forgot that we got! They were handing out foods and drinks at the end (no booze, which is probably why the Capital City half marathon charges more than the Columbus Marathon). However, my fingers had no dexterity, so it must have been amusing watching me fumble through people handing me free stuff. I people watched a little bit, as I sat down while my calves became tighter than John Cooper coaching against Michigan. It was a low-key half marathon for me, so I didn’t tell too many people about it, so I didn’t have anyone there with me. It was peaceful because two very expensive, chic condo buildings.
Road racing can become addicting. Maybe it’s the endorphins and dopamine in your system, but once you’ve finished a race, you’ll never want to do it again or you will see when the next one is and sign up for it. It’s a great feeling of people achievement, because half marathons take months to train for, let alone how long it takes to train for the marathon. The half marathon is a great distance because while it’s still very long, the half marathon doesn’t have the same physiological effects as a marathon.
The atmosphere of the race was phenomenal — this definitely wasn’t amateur hour — these were pros at work. It’s the kind of experience that makes you want to do it again. Hopefully they live up to expectation. There are several half marathon races in Columbus each year, so I’d rather not run the Columbus half marathon again but run the marathon instead (marathons can get pricy because there are a limited amount, and you often have to travel to them, which ostensibly adds to the cost).
And I have no pictures, unless you want me to show a picture of my FiveFingers or break copyright law. Thanks for reading!