Before I talk about my race, let me just say that the Columbus Marathon does an amazing job with this race. I’ve run bigger marathons, smaller marathons, destination marathons and even a Canadian marathon, but I’ve never run a better marathon than Columbus. Excellent pre-race communications, a nice expo, well organized corrals, fast, fun, interesting course and outstanding crowd support the whole way. If you haven’t run it, put it on your list, they do a first class job all around.
I went into this race with the goal of running a Boston qualifying time (3:25:00), but that didn’t happen today (3:39:26). Still, as we got into our car after the race, I told my wife, “This wasn’t my fastest race, but it is the one I am most proud of. In all of my marathons, I have never had to call on more grit and determination than I did today.”
The truth of the matter is that I just fell apart physically. The marathon will find any physical weaknesses and shove them the hell in your face. While laughing maniacally. And although I did everything in my power to remain positive in the lead-up to Columbus, I knew it would have to be a miraculous day for me to run a BQ. While still dealing with left hip issues caused by a spine problem, I found out late this summer that I also have a hernia that needs to be repaired. Maybe either one of those issues on its own would have been manageable, but asking the marathon to turn a blind eye to both is foolhardy. I knew going in that I wasn’t as strong or as fit as I was when I ran Glass City last spring, but I wanted to try anyway.
The day started off great: no troubles at all getting to my corral. While it was pretty chilly (mid 30s) during the wait, the time passed quickly and soon enough, the gun went off. My wife, her mom, and our two sons came to the race to cheer me on, and I got to see them for the first time just after mile 2. My wife told me the entire first two miles had thrown-away clothes strewn along the road as the runners shed the warm gear they needed for the corrals. The miles ticked on through 6 and I did a decent job keeping the pace right where it should be: 8:04, 7:48, 7:31, 7:44, 7:36, 7:36. I saw my crew again at mile 7, and still, nothing but smiles. And, I was still feeling good the next time I heard them cheer, at 14. Miles 7-13: 7:45, 7:42, 7:34, 7:44, 7:59, 8:07, 7:47.
I held onto BQ pace up through mile 19 (7:46, 7:46, 7:50, 7:57, 7:50, 7:51), just after running through Ohio State’s football stadium, known locally as the Horseshoe. After climbing a sharp incline as you exit the stadium, I started to get intense pains in my left hip. Very reminiscent of Houston earlier this year. After a while, it seemed to loosen up briefly, so I made an effort to catch back up to the 3:25 pace group. As the pain in my left hip started to come back, I started to try to compensate with my right leg, which promptly brought the pain train to the area where the hernia is (right groin, TMI). Now I was one big compensatory mess. As I continued on and watched the 3:25 pace group fade into the distance, the pain in my hip made its way to my hamstring, then eventually my knee. I ended up having to stop a few times to try to get my left leg working again, but there was nothing to do but slow down. The final 6 miles were nothing but gritting my teeth and trying to maintain some semblance of a pace. But the pain never abated. By the time I met up with everyone in the family reunion area, I had to have help just to stay standing.
So, while I won’t be heading to Boston as soon as I’d like, I know I can keep my head up about this race. I earned every inch. And that’s why it’s the race I’m most proud of.
The surgery to repair the hernia is already scheduled for the end of this month, so I will be forced to take some time away from running, which is for the best. Even getting off that hip for a little bit may help. I know that by the time Thanksgiving comes around, I will be back to hitting the roads again, doing what I love to do. And for that, I am grateful, and very happy.