Columbus Marathon 2021: the recap

Holy crap, are my legs swollen.

However, I hadn’t been running and training like I should have been. The past month with work has been going well, but also leaving me exhausted a lot. My body was needing rest and cross- training, so I decided to focus on those two leading up to race day. The week before the race consisted of four mornings of hour-plus elliptical sessions and two days of absolute rest. As well as scheduling a Covid test to prove I was negative so I could pick up my bib on Saturday.

This past Sunday was the Columbus Marathon. My first full marathon in two years. The race that was going to remind me why I fell in love with the marathon in the first place, and why I’ve been missing it over the past year and a half with cancellations and races going virtual.

Physically I was feeling relaxed. Mentally I was elated to run again and couldn’t keep the excitement in. I felt like I was about to run my first full back in 2017. In a way, because it had been so long since my last 26.2, I did feel like I was starting over from scratch.

I woke up Saturday excited to go downtown for the expo and pick up my bib. It was a little smaller this year because of social distancing restrictions, but the energy was still there. I walked around downtown a bit afterwards, seeing the murals and what else was new in the Short North.

Now, the real challenge of Saturday was deciding what to eat. I was burnt out on rice and macaroni, but I couldn’t think of anything else I could eat that would stay with me and not cause GI distress in the middle of the race. Fettuccine alfredo sounded pretty good and I hadn’t had that dish in a while, so I decided to get the old standby as my late lunch/early dinner.

The excitement made falling asleep on Saturday night a struggle. Thankfully, springing out of bed on Sunday morning was easy. I woke up, stretched, got my fuel belt gathered up and cuddled Marina a bit before leaving.

I did have exchange outfits though. Originally I planned to wear shorts, a cropped tank top and arm warmers, since it was going to be sunny. The rule of thumb about running and what to wear is to expect to feel 20 degrees warmer than the current outside temperature. So if it was going to be 55, I should dress in anticipation of it feeling like 75.

I went outside a little after six in my crop top and shorts. I know October mornings are cold, but I wasn’t expecting it to be that cold. I wound up changing tops to a looser t-shirt so I could at least keep my midriff warm at the start line.

At 7:30 the start line fireworks went off. “Born to Run” blared throughout the Arena District as the sun rose over the city. My heart skipped a few beats right as it was time for my corral to move up to the starting line. The energy and nerves were bouncing off everyone, and all my brain could register was, You’re back where you should be.

The course was exactly as I remembered it. Each mile is dedicated to a Patient Champion at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and seeing the kids with their families on the course warmed my heart. Each Patient Champion picks a theme for their mile. Mile 4’s champion, August, went with a Star Wars theme. I was so focused on finding him that I didn’t even realize a stormtrooper and Darth Vader were there for high fives until I got right up on them.

I high-fived both.

Around Miles 6 and 7 I was passed by Mr. Incredible, Elasti-girl and FroZone from The Incredibles. They stayed in character while offering words of support and encouragement to the runners around them. (Incidentally, all three of them looked great.)

We ran past Nationwide Children’s Hospital, south through German Village and north on High Street towards downtown. Around Miles 13 and 14 in the Short North, I felt tired and decided to run-walk the race with plenty of Gatorade breaks. I still felt strong until we made it to Neil Avenue and started towards Ohio State.

No matter how many times I run through OSU’s campus during training runs to mimic the marathon route, I always forget about the hills and inclines that like to sneak up on me. They’re all over the place, and you never realize you’re fighting one until you’re actually fighting it. At one point I asked some college kids who were cheering how many hills were on this campus.

Running around Horseshoe Stadium was cool, but at this point, I was kinda over the sneaky inclines. Miles 17 and 18, running on Woody Hayes Drive, was my least favorite part of the course. I always forget just how big OSU’s campus is and how much land it actually entails, and the hills of WHD just felt nonstop, as though there were no end in sight.

Eventually we picked up the bike path into Upper Arlington. I was tired but still had some strength to carry on through Upper Arlington into Grandview Heights.

At Mile 23 my body finally had enough. That mile starts with a steep uphill that I had to walk most of until I got to flat terrain. I will say I’m proud of myself for making it 23 miles before hitting the wall, but hit the wall I did. The last three miles was mostly walking, with some running downhill to pick up speed, and then walking again at another stupid hill.

Eventually I hit the Mile 26 marker. I had walked it, but I made a promise to myself when I first started running I would never walk across a finish line. It felt like hell, but I made myself run across that finish line.

My final time – 5:40. It was three minutes slower than my first marathon, which was Columbus 2017. My body was feeling it, but emotionally and mentally? I felt great. I was relaxed through most of the race, completely at peace with how I did since I knew my training wasn’t up to snuff for a PR, and overall I just had fun being out on a course again.

I called my mom and grandparents to let them know how it went, got home and got a shower. Amazingly enough I didn’t chafe and I was able to shave my legs before the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) kicked in.

Once the DOMS kicked in, that was a whole ‘nother story. I’m better today minus holding water. But Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were rough. The entirety of my legs, as well as my core and spine was stiff and hurting. My manager okayed me going home early on Monday to rest up and recovery had primarily been sleeping.

I guess if there was a lesson to Columbus, it would be don’t forget to enjoy the race and that it takes a real love to commit to 26.2 miles. Not that I did before, but I definitely won’t be taking in-person races for granted ever again.

Marathon #9 is done. Next up: the Indy Monumental Marathon on Nov. 6th. That’s right – I’m doing this again in three weeks.

Told you all it’s a love.

Yours in reading and running,

Allison

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