Somehow I made the smart decision to sign-up for Marathon #5 even though it was only 6 weeks after I planned on finishing Marathon #4. Last year I ran the Owens Corning Glass City Half Marathon last year, so this year it was time to tackle the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon.
The week of training going into the race, I felt confident. Maybe a bit too confident. I knew I had lacked a significant amount of speed work, but this had been one of my strongest training periods to date. I’ll have more on my spring marathon training next week here.
Friday I did my shake-out run, mainly because Saturday was going to be a busy day. Saturday was the Expo and Packet Pick-up. With the exception of having to wait in line to find our bib numbers, it went smoothly. I walked around the vendors but didn’t see anything that I “needed.” The Expo is smaller than some of the larger races that I’m used to running, but Dave’s Running and Second Sole have some great sales that beat what I’ve seen at every other Expo. Saturday night was my usual pre-race Sushi followed by some frozen yogurt as an added treat.
Sunday morning’s wake up was at 4:45am. Breakfast was Coffee and Oatmeal. I just couldn’t stomach a banana at that point. I woke up feeling ready to go, however, it took a bit too long to get out the door. The weather was a cold 37 degrees, but there was no rain and it was supposed to get mid-to-high-40s during the race. I didn’t make it to campus and my designated parking spot until 6:30am, which honestly I’m okay with. After parting with my mom, I went on a nice warm-up run and stretch around campus before heading to the start area. At the start I ran into one of my co-workers, then a friend from grade school, before seeing my other co-worker and her friends. I reconnected with my mom, then it was off to get into the corrals. Goal A was to break the elusive 4 hour mark which mean I would have to keep a 9’09 pace. Goal B was to PR at a 9’16” pace, while Goal C was a pace of 9’26”. I set my goals steeper this time, but it matched my training. My race strategy was to hold a sub-8’30” pace for the first half of the marathon, then hold a sub-9’00” pace for the second half. Based on my previous races combined with my training, I thought that this was a solid strategy.
Now for the break down of the race…
The course starts off on the University of Toledo’s Main Campus and heads north into Old Orchard. Last year despite the rain there were a lot of spectators out on their front lawns, this year with a sunny morning, I was surprised not to see many people during that first mile. For mile 2, I headed into Ottawa Hills, remember the speed bumps as you pass the high school. I had fallen in with the 3:35 pace group with the 3:40 group on my heels, and hung out there til around the 10k mark. After mile 3, I headed past my alma mater. Then it was mile 4 where for the next 3 miles I felt like I was twisting and turning almost every 1/10th of a mile, and when I also realized why it’s called Ottawa Hills; I definitely didn’t remember it being that hilly last year. Granted these aren’t your Cincinnati hills, and they weren’t even difficult, just something I didn’t notice last year. I was doing great on time and my plan so I decided to take my first GU at mile 6 instead of 5, to be more consistent with the every 45 minutes, however, my stomach didn’t like the sound of the GU but I forced it down anyway.
Average Pace: 8’22”
Right before mile 7, I crossed Central Avenue and headed into Wildwood Metro Park, which brought back memories of High School Cross Country, especially when we passed the manor house and I remembered playing ultimate frisbee with my teammates on the front lawn. Shortly after mile 8, the half marathon split off to head back to campus, as the full marathon headed north along the University Park Bike Hike Trail for about 2.5 miles. This is when the packed really thinned out and I realized I was on my own. Eventually I fell in with the 3:45 pace group, but that didn’t last long and I lost them before we hit mile 11. Shortly before mile 11, I turned off the Bike Path and headed north on King Rd. When we passed the relay exchange point, my legs felt fine but I could tell despite that that I was slowing down, and mentally I got discouraged as all of the new relay runners took off on fresh legs passing me. Although the City of Sylvania Police Officers did a great job of blocking the intersections, King Rd was still open to traffic going both ways and the runners were hugging the right side of the road. The scariest part was the vehicles who didn’t move over and definitely didn’t slow down while passing us. I was very happy when we turned off King Rd onto Brint Rd before heading into a neighborhood. After mile 12, I took my second GU.
Average Pace: 8’48”
But after mile 14 I passed Lourdes College, I knew I was half way done and headed back south. What I didn’t know was that the mild ENE wind was only going to get stronger during the next miles. After mile 15, I passed another relay exchange point before doing a lap around Olander Lake. I can’t explain what was happening to my body at this point, my legs felt strong, but my pace was slowing and I was struggling trying to hold on. Another set of relay runners with fresh legs flew by me and before turning onto Sylvania Ave I accidentally took a cup of gatorade when I really wanted some cold water to pour on myself. Oops! Turning onto Sylvania for miles 17-19 were the most difficult miles of the race with the headwinds. Granted I’ve ran in much worse, so I kept reminding myself that this was nothing. I took my third and last GU after mile 18.
Average Pace: 9’51”
After mile 20, I was headed back into Wildwood Metro Park for less than a mile and a half before hitting the home stretch that was the Bike Trail back to campus after mile 21. Turning onto the Bike Trail, I had planed on digging deep and knocking out the last few miles, and I fell in with the 4:00 pacer, but I just couldn’t hang on. I kept trying to push myself forward and pick up my pace, but I couldn’t. It was different than other races were I lacked the energy or my legs were fatigued. It was neither of those, but by mile 23-24 I wanted to quit for the first time ever; mentally I was so frustrated I wanted to give up. I took a few walking breaks to try and grab hold of my emotions because I was so distraught about not breaking 4 hours and not even PR’ing. At mile 25 I was finally back on campus, and all I could do was let the momentum carry me to the finish.
Average Pace: 10’27”
Official Finish Time 4:06:56
Average Pace 9’25”
After crossing the finish line, I got my blanket and my medal. I walked to the endzone of the football field and thankfully before I started to cry I found my mom. Then I sat down. Then I laid down. I normally don’t want to stop moving after a race so my body doesn’t tighten up, but at this point I was exhausted and I just wanted to sleep. It took a while of rest before I was ready to head out of the stadium to get my finishers mug and head home. I didn’t even want to stop at the post-race festivities. I was getting too cold despite throwing on a jacket. So we headed home.
The weather was great for race day, even with the wind for the middle part, it was a beautiful day to be running Toledo. Another perk, GCM is a relatively flat course for the majority of the race, which is definitely a selling point. It’s a smaller race that still has the feel of the organization of a larger race. For the brief periods of time that I ran with the pacers, they held the pace consistent with what they needed to. There was ample water stops, and the only downside is that I usually drink at every other stop but with so many I found that I was taking in too much water early on.
The corral system was instituted for the first time. Although they didn’t have anyone at the entry points checking bibs, and some people from farther back corrals found themselves in faster corrals, which totally defeats the point of the corrals. Since the first quarter mile is congested I was worried how this would affect my pace personally, but I didn’t seem to get stuck behind too many slower runners to really be concerned, which must mean that the majority of the runners followed the system and started in their designated corral.
There are more personal and are no way a reflection on the race and the organizers. I’m sure that some runners used the relay runners as extra motivation to pick up or keep up their pace, but for me it almost felt like a discouragement to have these fresh legged runners join at the parts of the race where I was struggling.
Some post-race thoughts:
I’m going to start off by saying that I am disappointed in my time. When I PR’d last fall, my race strategy had been to get a sub-9 min mile pace and hold on for as long as I could. I know that’s not an ideal strategy, but it worked for the first 15 miles. This race I could only hold a sub-9 min mile until the half, only keeping with my sub-8:30 goal thru mile 8. At mile 18 I ran a 10 minute mile; even at mile 20 there was still hope to meet Goal A, but that meant I’d have to get back to a 9’19” pace. By mile 21, I was done. I still had gas in the tank and my legs felt great, but the engine just wasn’t working. I know you can’t win them all, and I’m struggling trying to look for the positives in my performance. Let’s start with the fact that I ran 0:12/mile faster than I did last year at Glass City when I only ran the half marathon. Also, although there was no timing at the half marathon point and my GPS was approximately 0.10-0.15 miles off at that point, my estimated half marathon time would’ve been a PR at 1:54:03. Columbus was my best race for consistent pacing, but GCM was an improvement over Shamrock.
Overall, GCM was a great experience. Thanks to Toledo Road Runners for sponsoring such a great event!