Nationwide Children’s Hospital Half Marathon: Race Recap

SPOILER ALERT: I PR’D BY 3 MINUTES! (unofficially.)

It’s no secret that the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon is my favorite race. This was my first half marathon (2009). I also ran the half marathon in 2010 and 2014, choosing to run the full marathon in 2012 and 2013.

Race Week Training

I. Did. Not. Taper. You read that right. No taper. The first weekend in September I ran the Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare with the second weekend walking the New Albany Walking Classic half marathon. I closed out September with a sub-2 Hour half marathon at Akron. The next weekend I welcomed October with a GORUCK Mogadishu Mile Challenge in Cleveland, OH and followed that up with setting a PR at the MacQueen’s Run for Your Life 10K the second weekend in October. I began race week with 50.2 miles for the month of October. I didn’t taper much for Akron since it was planned as a training run, and since Columbus wasn’t a goal race, I didn’t feel the need to sacrifice mileage with Huff 50K in two months.

Training Review

What training? I did not train for the Columbus Half Marathon specifically. My mileage isn’t where it needs to be with my first ultra approaching. In fact, the week of Disneyland, my only miles logged where for the event (19.4miles). The following week I only fit in a 4.2 mile run (+13.1 walking). I picked it back up with 36.4 miles the week of September 14th, and then 28.6 miles to include the Akron Half Marathon. I missed a 12 mile run the first weekend of October but still managed 25.9 miles (+16+ for the GORUCK) and then 35.8 miles including my 10K race. The week leading up to Columbus I pulled in 23.3 miles (+7 miles walk to and from the stadium!).

Expo and Packet Pick-up

The Expo opens every year, Friday at noon. And if you want to get your hands on the best swag offered by Second Sole, then you need to be there when the doors open, otherwise you risk not getting your size. My day started at 3am (after less than 7 hours of sleep) with a 1 mile with the pup and a 3 mile run, before an almost 3 hour drive to Columbus. I got in about 3.5 hours of work before heading to the Expo. The Expo was uneventful but fabulous as always. I didn’t really have any must buys this year although I was looking for arm-warmers (unsuccessful). Chipotle was what was for lunch after the Expo. The back at it for a few more hours of work. I headed to my friends to drop off my bags for the weekend then walked a mile to Melt for dinner and drinks. I was able to squeeze in 7 hours of sleep that night.

Race Day Wake-up

The day prior to race day started with a 5am wake-up, 3 mile shake-out run/test of race-day weather and then an almost 10 hour day of work. Chipotle again for lunch. My attempts at an evening nap were thwarted. I ate Melt leftovers for dinner so I didn’t have to waste energy going out for my normal pre-race Sushi. Then I was off for a 3+ mile walk to the game. I figured that I don’t normally sleep well the night before a race , and I probably would stay up and watch the game anyway…so why not go to it. Besides, my ticket was in Row 1. And by Row 1 I mean that row right next to the field (yes I’m bragging). I’m really thankful we won! Definitely not sure how I would have slept or felt on Race Morning if we hadn’t. I had a 3 mile walk back and a quick shower before getting 4.5 hours of rest.

Sunday morning’s wake up came at 5:30am. Breakfast was a Clif Sierra Trail Mix bar, because it’s almost like my oatmeal. I didn’t get coffee. I still debated on my race outfit, using my shake out run and my 10K as basis for my decisions. The weather report said it was currently 28 degrees. I ended up wearing my Athleta Be Free Knickers, a Lululemon Run Swiftly Long Sleeve Top and Lululemon socks instead of my SmartWool PhD running socks with Light Cushion. I opted for a Buff instead of a beanie, but covered it with my 2014 Columbus Finisher’s Nike Golf hat. I threw on a throw away top and my gloves and headed out the door. I met up with some friends around 6:40am, but headed out on my own for my warm-up mile at 6:55am. I was overheating with my gloves and extra top, so I made a stop at the parking garage and stowed the items under my car for future re-use. I was nervous about making it to the start on time, and I was so warm, I did an abbreviated warm-up yoga routine. I felt good. I took my GU Salted Watermelon and headed to the start.

Race Goals

Despite this not being a goal race, I still thought about what my goals should be during race week .

According to various finish time calculators (primarily runcoach and McMillan), I should finish in:

  • 1:53:46 to 1:56:25 (using my last race finishing time-MacQueen’s Run for Your Life 10k)
  • 1:57:20 to 1:58:02 (using my last true full marathon finishing time-GCM 2014)

Goal A: Since this isn’t a goal race, I’m not looking to PR. So using my race (last weekend), 1:56:25 (8:52/mile).
Goal B: Even though my last true full marathon is over a year old, 1:57:20 (8:57/mile).
Goal C: My safe goal is to break 2 Hours, 1:58:32 (9:02/mile).

Start Area

I really wished there was a 1:55/3:50 pacer, but since there wasn’t I lined up right in front of the 3:45 pacer, basically because they were in Corral B and I was in A, and it was too late to try and get back there. I figured they’d pass me in the first mile. While I thought I was overdressed, my hands began to get cold and I regretted stowing my gloves! As always, Darris puts on a show for the start. And once Thunderstruck came on, I knew it was go time.

Miles 1-3: 8’47″/8’44″/8’28
Starting at the back of the first corral, I was surprised to pass walkers in the first half mile. I tried to fall into a comfortable pace and find a rabbit. Soon the 3:45 group caught up to me and became my rabbit (along with a girl in a yellow shirt). That pacer looked fun, but learning from Akron, I didn’t want to run in a pack. The course was still severely congested, despite how wide the roads were. I was carrying a water bottle so I could avoid water stations and with two being in the first 2 miles, I was thankful. I didn’t need water that early anyways, but throughout the course, these “fluid stations” were the cause of some slowing down. Before Mile 3, we saw the wheelchairs passing and cheered, then it was the male leaders! Two were neck and neck heading into Mile 7.

Miles 4-6: 8’35″/8’25″/8’25”

Mile 4 came quick and then it was a quick loop through Bexley. I enjoyed a GU Salted Watermelon around 4.5 miles. Right after passing Capital University I saw the timing map only covered half of the road, and there was quit a bit of congested (my favorite word to describe this race) of runners struggling to get over the mat. I crossed at a GPS watch time of 42:59. The 3:45 pack remained in my view. I always fret about running up Nelson because it previous years I felt like I was slowing down because the road is narrower, but this year I didn’t experience that problem because thankfully I found a bit of land and kept my pace up. Well until the water station before Mile 7. There I had a male runner weave in and out crossing in front of me 5 different times almost tripping me twice. I slowed down severely and definitely felt my legs not want to get back to the original pace. I spent Mile 6 contemplating if I wanted to remove my long sleeve and run in my bra because I was getting a little overheated; this didn’t last long.

Miles 7-9: 8’49″/8’20″/8’18”

As I headed into Mile 7, my hands got cold, and I wanted gloves badly. The crowds were great here and I didn’t really feel like we were in the shade, but my hands weren’t warm anymore. I could see Nationwide Children’s Hospital ahead as I headed into Mile 8, and felt surprised that the race had gone by so quickly. I keep my watch on an average pace (instead of viewing my current pace) and I was impressed to see it read 8’33”. I wasn’t expecting to feel this good and have the chance at a PR, and I started to feel overwhelmed and almost a little teary eyed. I had to talk myself down and tell myself to save the tears for the end and not waste the energy now. Besides I was still hoping I would have something in me to pick it up at Mile 10. After taking a GU Lemon-Lime, we headed into Mile 9, and I threw away my water bottle because it was empty. Sometime during this block, I lost my yellow-shirted rabbit, who was consistently between me and the pace group. I turned around once and saw her behind me, but had to set my eyes ahead and keep moving forward.

Miles 10-13.1: 8’25″/8’41″/8’34″/7’55”
As we headed into German Village, I felt really comfortable. The course changes slightly each year and so far I felt it had really changed this year. I knew exactly what was ahead. Right before I saw the Starbucks (I once stopped here during a Making Strides against Breast Cancer walk–so I recognize it every time now), I smelled burnt toast. Oddly I really wanted breakfast at that moment. That quickly passed as we made a turn and I knew overhead photographers and water were up ahead. Because of the crowded course, I had missed many opportunities to be seen by the photographers, I was typically in the middle instead of off to the side. After I grabbed water, I heard someone say GO JES(S), but I didn’t recognize them. Regardless, I knew it was past time to see what my legs had in me. Then came Mile 11. I quickly checked my total elapsed time to see 1:33 and knew even if I slowed down dramatically, I would still PR. I started to cruise past the 3:45 group, until the incline started. I was worried this was the wall. Then I saw the signs for half-marathon to the left and marathon to the right and I knew that this was it. My legs didn’t have much in them to pick it up like I had hoped/planned, and then I saw the quarter-mile sign and said “F*ck it.” I gave it all I had.

Finish
Official Finish Time 1:51:43
Average Pace 8’32”

When I crossed the finish line, I couldn’t decide if I was going to cry or going to be sick. As I bent over about to lose my GUs, I was told to keep walking. But I need a trash can I thought. And then I moved and it dissipated. I looked at my watch and saw 1:51:43. My brain couldn’t remember my GCM PR (1:54:44), but it was also thinking about how crappy I felt after that race compared to how I felt this one (then my brain got sidetracked thinking about how much hard work I put into that training period compared to not training). The wheels in my head were still spinning as I grabbed my heatsheet and two water bottles, when my friend called my name. I walked over to meet her as we waited for a few others to cross. I then pulled out my phone to see my official time, and was surprised to not see any congrats messages from family who were tracking me. Then I realized my chip didn’t work and no updates were sent out. I sent out messages to family and friends with my unofficial time. And then our CrossFit coach finished and we walked out of the finishers area to meet up with their spouses. I purchased my standard finisher’s Nike half-zip and contemplated the PR Gong. We hung out there for about an hour before taking a picture and heading out.

Pros:  I PR’d! It was sunny and not windy. And although it was cold, my body handled it well for the most part. As always there were plenty of spectators and water stations. When I describe my perfect race, it’s basically Columbus. So I could probably write a whole blog post here, but I won’t. DB and staff do an amazing job putting on this race (so if you’re reading this–THANK YOU!).

Cons: Did I mention how congested it was? Maybe it’s because I normally run slower, or maybe it’s because I was chasing a pace group. That’s probably my only major con to this year’s race. Besides my chip not working, so no one could track me and I didn’t have official results; I’m working with MTEC Results to fix this, but thankfully there’s a finisher’s video and my chip did get me crossing the start. My photos aren’t posted yet either, so I’m just anxious.

Some post-race thoughts: I PR’d. I’m still mind-boggled by it. I’m trying to figure out what I did right by not training specifically for this race. After Disneyland being an ordinary performance, and then Akron being a comfortable sub-2, I didn’t know what to expect. I actually questioned myself about trying to hang in there with the 3:45 pacer as my rabbit. I thought I wasn’t in running shape for that, but I honestly thought why not. I planned on hanging in there until I couldn’t. I didn’t plan on hanging in there for almost the entire race. Now that Columbus is behind me, I have the 4 Miler next weekend and then it’s time to get some serious mileage in for the Huff 50K in December.

I hope everyone’s fall racing season is going well. If you’re interested, you can find all of my Race Recaps here!

Thanks!

Jes

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