As I mentioned in my last post, I made the impromptu decision to run this race after a fellow ACS teammate reminded me it was happening by tweeting about it. The Scioto Miles training series is hosted by the same running store that hosts my training group. They do two races in the fall and two in the spring. The spring races are the “official training series of the Capital City Half Marathon.” The course is a 5K loop so participants have the option of running a 5K, 10K, or 15K. Since 9 miles was on the training schedule for today, I obviously chose the 15K. This is going to mostly be a recap about my actual race performance and experience rather than a review, because unless you live here there would really be no reason to register for this race. As with most runner’s race recaps, this will likely be a long post, but I will try to keep it short and simple!
I registered for this race with the intention of treating it like the training race it is meant to be. My goal was just to try to maintain around a 8:30 pace and go a little faster in the last lap if I had it in me.
I woke up early and got dressed and had my normal pre-race meal – a whole grain English muffin with peanut butter, some Powerade, and of course some OTC meds to keep my stomach in line during the race. I was nervous about finding parking downtown because that always stresses me out, so I left pretty early to allow myself extra time. I was able to find meter parking about a block away from the start and walked up to the start line just as the wind was kicking in full-force. The “Wicked wind of the Midwest” as I like to call it.
Most of the participants were inside an office building located at the start staying warm and picking up packets. This race is usually held along the Scioto river (hence the name), but due to construction it was moved into the downtown area. I think this kind of messed with a lot of the preparation. There weren’t any port-a-john’s, but the awesome security guard in the building was swiping his badge at the elevators so runners could go to the second floor to use the bathroom. Needless to say, I think all of us preferred this over the port-a-john, but were still surprised none were available.
After a bathroom stop, I ate a Gu and talked with two other runners inside while I waited for it to get closer to start time. About 10 minutes out I went back outside and dropped my bag at bag check. I made a last minute decision to wear my sweatshirt for the race and I was really glad that I did. They called us over to the line up to get ready and I spotted another fellow ACS teammate (he also happens to be a teammate for the fall distance relay!) and lined up with him. We chatted about race goals for the day, said good luck, and we were off! His goal was nearly 90 seconds slower than mine, but despite not having corrals I found it easy to get going at my normal pace with only minimal dodging.
This was my first race with a loop course. We went through the start and ran one block before turning right, did a short straightaway before hanging a right onto East Long Street. Let me tell you, that street name is no joke. Longest. Street. Ever…. and now also my least favorite street in Columbus. Another right turn took us down a short street with some really neat homes and an extremely friendly police office before making a right to head down to the finish. The first time around went very quickly. I remember glancing at my watch as I passed under the arch and seeing a time around 25 minutes. That’s when my competitive side kicked in and I switched my goal from casually trying to maintain a 8:30 pace to seeing how fast I could push myself within reason.
At the start of the second loop, there was a super sweet family manning the water station. The girl I took a cup from had to be only 6 years old and she was with her brother, mother, and father. The second loop also went pretty well. I now had an idea of where I was going and a Gatorade station had been set up on Long Street. I grabbed a cup and had a sip and kept going. I realized on the final stretch of the second loop that I was running part of the final mile of the half marathon course, but backwards. This was slightly downhill which felt nice. I decided to have a second Gu at this point because I had been feeling really tired that morning. I found myself wishing I had only signed up for the 10K, but mostly just because I didn’t want to run the loop again. I think my watch time at 10K was around 50 minutes. I felt warm during this loop, but am glad I kept my sweatshirt on because the third loop was cold.
At the start of the third loop the sweet family at the water station were handing out BOTTLED WATER. I think they temporarily ran out of cups, but this was so exciting to me. I would’ve carried it most of the loop, but unfortunately they didn’t give me the cap which made it hard hold and not spill. I drank probably a fourth of the bottle before dropping it in the trash. The third loop was definitely the hardest. Not only were my legs tired, but I was bored with the course. I knew how long the stretch would be before I could turn right again. I thanked some of the police officers on this loop, but also walked for about 10 seconds at the Gatorade station to get a good gulp in. When I turned down the final stretch it felt so flipping long. The first two loops felt short to get to the finish, but I guess because I was growing tired and knew I was almost done this just dragged. I felt this was my slowest loop, but I think I actually maintained my pace pretty well.
Official chip time: 1:16:36, 8:15 pace. 5K time 25:29, 8:12 pace (PR). 10K time didn’t register.
Watch stats: 9.61 miles, 1:16:38, 7:58 pace. (Clearly I need to learn to weave less.)
When I finished I was going to hang out for a while to wait for some of my friends to come through the finish line, but after about 5 minutes I was flat out freezing so I headed back to my car. I skipped the post-race food, but all I saw were Nutri-Grain bars of which I am not a very big fan. I think they had more, but I wasn’t really there for the food. I would say overall I really appreciated this race for the opportunity to gauge where I am for my race in May. I saw some complaints on their Facebook about lack of water, but I had no problem with the one water station and one Gatorade station. This was a small-scale race meant for training and I think they did a great job. I’m still on the fence about the loop course. I think I would consider it for 15Ks and under, but I don’t see myself registering for a loop course half marathon anytime soon!
Have you ever run a loop course? Do you feel like it helped or hurt your performance?