Sunday, April 15, 2007

Columbus Distance Classic 5K - My Fourth Race

As race day approached, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to race in this race or not. I pulled my Achilles Tendon the day after my last race. :( I wasn't able to run for almost a full week and had to resort to biking only. I had lost a lot of momentum from not running everyday. It sucked too, because my race times were getting faster and faster and I really wanted to do better this race since it was my birthday and all. Up until the injury running was getting easier every day and I could go faster and longer than the day before. However, I think ultimately this is why I hurt myself; I thought I was invincible and pushed myself too hard. My ankle spoke up and said "WTF!? Chill out!!" It put me out of commission for almost two full weeks and gave me a nice little reality check. :)

Since I didn't want to go out on race day and completely rupture my AT, I decided to do a couple of training jogs last week before the race. I did a 2 miler one day and a 3 miler another day, both at a snails pace, just to prove to myself (and my ankle) that I could. I did a lot of research on my injury and got all kinds of mixed advice. Most people said "STOP RUNNING!", but I decided to ignore that advice and "run it off". I was actually quite surprised at quickly my Achilles Tendon healed. Of course, it still is not 100%, but it's good enough to run on. Here is my story...

The Columbus Distance Classic is was a huge event for Columbus. There were 3,107 racers running in the half marathon, and 739 people running in the 5K. The half marathon brought an elite class of athletes from all over the world. For example, one of the winners (yes, it was a dead-even tie) was from Kenya, Africa!! Cool. Needless to say, I was surprised at how many people I had to run with. This was the first time I had to strap on an electronic device to my shoe for recording my time. I had always wondered how they kept track of times for the people in the back of the pack. I know for the Boston Marathon (which is tomorrow), it takes hours for everybody to get started. Well, I learned how... for these big races, everybody is assigned individual monitoring devices. The devices are called ChampionChips, and each runner has to tie them onto their shoes. When you cross the start line, it records your time and then when you cross the finish line, it records your time again. This gives you your time down to the milliseconds. This device allows each runner the luxury of having a floating start/end time. So this means that for all the people that were in the back of the pack, there time didn't start until the crossed the start line. For the Half Marathon, some of the people in the back didn't even cross the start line until 10 minutes into the race.

There were lots of big time people at this race. I started right behind Mayor Coleman at the start line. I mean I was directly behind him. Before the race, I actually tapped him on the shoulder and shook his hand. Chris Spielman gave a little speech before the race too; he was about 10 yards away from me. I'm still waiting to see my picture in the paper because there were all kinds of reporters and camera men taking pictures of Mayor Coleman before the race, as we were standing at the start line. If you see any pictures of Mayor Coleman at the starting line of the race, let me know!! I'll be that guy in the shades and green tobogin right behind him. :) Not that it matters, but I finished almost 5 minutes before him. :)

Before the race, I decided that I wasn't going to try and beat my last time because that would only put strain on my ankle and could have possibly put me out of commission even longer. I didn't want that because 2 weeks of no running was already bumming me out. I was starting to get stir crazy and couldn't wait to get back on the black top. The first mile was a breeze, I basically jogged it just to make sure I didn't strain anything right away; my first mile was 9:07. I knew that I could go a little bit faster than that because my ankle didn't show the slightest bit of strain. I bumped it up a little bit and increased my stride. At one point I gave a huge power burst for almost 100 yards during a kick ass Tool song on my iPod. I just got in tune with the music and passed about 12 people or so. Once I got pretty winded, I set back into a nice pace and kept up with my new neighbors. I know my second mile was much better than my first mile. Unfortunately there was no 2 mile marker and I wasn't able to accurately record it. If I had to guess, I would guess it was about a 8:30 mile. The third mile was a little longer because I was getting winded and there a slight uphill slant for most of the last part of the race.

As I got closer to the finish line, the crowd got louder and louder and the finish line itself was pretty impressive looking. They had the big sign above the finish line showing the time for all the spectators. I crossed the finish line at 27:28!! (this calculates to a 8:51 pace). I came in 117th place. :) Here is the results page: Columbus Distance Classic 5k Results Page (bib #10242)

My time is very respectable given my ankle injury and my "weight class"... if there is such a thing in running. Of course my time was much longer than I had originally wanted it to be, but I am (by no means) disappointed with it. Honestly, I was just happy to finish the race without limping or crawling. Believe it or not, I had no pain at all. The cool thing was that once I crossed the finish line I saw that there was a HUGE FEAST for all of the runners!! There were apples, bananas, all kinds of pizza, bagels, pretzels, water, gatorade, etc... To be honest, the last thing I wanted to put in my stomach after an exhausting run was a greasy piece of pizza. I grabbed an apple and a water; both of which were very refreshing.

To wrap it up, the one thing that I liked most about this race was the crowd. The Columbus fans were awesome!! At one point, there was a group of people sticking out their hands to give the runners high fives as we passed, almost as if we were celebrities or something. I thought that it was very cool and (of course), I obliged. :) Seriously though, every step of the way, people were cheering the runners on and it really did help give an extra "umph" when I ran by someone and they clapped for me and said "good job", "keep it up", "almost there", etc...

I will be running this race again next year. However, I plan to do the half marathon instead...

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