COLUMBUS, Ohio — It was a beautiful day for marathon. Or in my case, a fully-supported, nine-mile training run to test my leg.
Either way, I was just happy to back at the starting line of a marathon, even if I wasn’t going the full distance.
It was the best outcome under difficult circumstances, so I am just going to look on the bright side and think of all the fun I had today.
And it was fun. I liked all the hoopla, the crowd energy, the sounds of thousands of running shoes hitting the pavement all around me, and catching up with my old buddy, Kevin. We had different goals today, but it was fun to spend a weekend seeing him again.
We had fun bopping around the expo, enjoying dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse and watching a bad Arnold Schwartenegger movie in our hotel room (“The Predator”).
On Sunday morning, we got up at 6 a.m., ready to run. It was just a question of how far.
Kevin was aiming for a full marathon. I was aiming for a third of a marathon — nine miles, which was pretty far for me, considering it was nearly twice as long as my longest run in the past month.
We lined at at 7:15 at the corner of Broad and High, near the Statehouse building, while it was still pretty dark. This was the last I saw of Kevin. He was in Corral #1, for the speedy runners. I was in Corral #2, for the not-so-speedy.
To my surprise, however, I somehow wound up far back in the corral, a few dozen feet behind the 4:30 marathon pace group. That was weird — and frustrating. I knew it would be tough to get around this group in the first mile or two.
Behind me were two other corrals for those even slower runners. Here was the view behind me:
And here’s the view ahead of me:
We shivered for a few minutes while the race director made a bunch of announcements. Then someone sang the national anthem. That was followed by a live band playing a pretty mediocre version of (yes, you guessed it, the usual) “Born to Run.”
Then at 7:30, the gun went off, and we started moving. Due to the size of the crowd (about 5,000 marathoners and about 10,000 half-marathoners), it took me about 10 minutes to get to the starting line.
We ran east down Broad Street for three miles. Within 10 minutes, I passsed the 4:30 pace group and the 4:15 pace group.
Then we all hung a left into the leafy sidestreets of Bexley.
It was a perfect fall day — temps in the high 40s, with crisp leaves on the ground. It’s my favorite time of year to run.
The course turned frequently during this section, giving us lots of views of the mansions in this old-money part of town.
I didn’t mind carrying my little camera and taking an occasional shot. I was not running this race for time, just for pleasure.
Still, I kept my eye on my watch. I saw I was running about an 8:30-8:40 pace, which pleased me, after such a difficult summer.
The miles clicked by and I was feeling OK. Soon, I passed the 4:00 pace group, and set my sights on catching the next pace group, whatever it might be.
But by mile six, I could tell I was in new territory, distance-wise. I hadn’t run this far in months and months, probably since my spring marathon.
By mile seven, I was starting to slow down. By mile eight, I was was starting to feel fatigue. That’s just how it is when you try to stretch your distance by four miles in one fell swoop, I guess. I was glad that my run was nearly over.
At mile nine, I jumped out of the race, up onto the sidewalk, and took a shot of my “finish line.”
I was just a few blocks from the starting/finish area. So I walked in that direction, stopping to take in the sights, including the 122nd Army Band, which was playing “Cleveland Rocks,” with lots of spirit. I heartily approved of the selection.
A few minutes later, I hit the finish area, and cheered on the half-marathoners doing their final push.
Then I looked at my watch to review my own run.
I had run nine miles, with the following splits: 8:37, 8:26, 8:20, 8:39, 8:32, 8:51, 8:55, 8:58, 8:41.
My overall time was 1:17:28, for an average pace of 8:37. I was satisfied.
I went back to the hotel, got changed, packed up, and drove home.
Later, I saw that Kevin finished his race in 3:45. That was a bit slower than Kevin’s last marathon three weeks ago, when he ran 3:34 in Akron. But he’s been suffering from foot pain, and predicted he would be going a little slower today. “I think I peaked in Akron,” he told me on Saturday.
Kevin’s next big race is Boston in April.
I haven’t picked my next big race. But I can’t wait to get back to the starting line of a marathon.
Next time, I hope I run all 26.2 miles.