Holy Toledo – Sub 3!
A week and a half ago I had never heard of the ‘Glass City Toledo Marathon’. And until I decided to avoid the oven-like temperatures of Boston, I had never heard the expression ‘Holy Toledo’. However it certainly applies to my w/e of success in the Mid West.
Desperate not to throw away my months of training, a couple days before the 2012 Boston Inferno, I went online to marathonguide.com and looked for a backup race. My criteria were a fast flat course and a location where the long range forecast called for cool temps on Sunday 22nd April. It quickly became apparent that Toledo was my only choice. So I rallied to arrange last minute plane tickets and a hotel room, change vacation dates at work and add in a side trip to visit my mom in Cleveland. Then I sat and worried. Would I really be able to deliver on my training? Or would this all be an expensive stress filled waste of time? What if the weather forecast changed? Or the course wasn’t all that it was chalked up to be?
Apart from forgetting my checked bag at the airport in Cleveland (yeah – with all my running gear inside! Thank God I realized and went back), my travel to Toledo went off without a hitch. I arrived on Friday night so had plenty of time on the Saturday to visit the expo (tiny – quite the opposite of Boston) and drive the course to check out all its quirks and myriad of turns. I also went for a short jog to explore the last mile of the race so I would know exactly where it went and just how short it would feel the next day.
The Toledo Marathon is not large – close to 1000 runners, but there is also a half marathon and many relay teams which makes it feel like a bigger race. More importantly, as I found out, the course really is ‘Mid West flat’. It starts and finishes on University of Toledo campus, and winds its way through various beautiful neighborhoods and a metro park, as well as along two different sections of a bike path. All surfaces are paved and beautifully smooth. The only possible downside to the course is that the main roads are not closed to traffic and so runners are restricted to running in a coned off lane rather than being able to freely run the tangents as the course was measured.
Sunday April 22 was cold and overcast as promised, and slightly breezy. Temps were in the high 30s at the start of the marathon and while I was running never got above the mid 40s. My goal was sub 3, and my plan was to run a 6.50 pace in order to give myself a little bit of cushion. Other than a bad patch between miles 19 and 21, and the inevitable tiredness in the closing miles, I felt pretty good and strong most of the race and was able to just follow my plan. That said, I was anxious and constantly running scared, never really sure that I could or would meet my goal until the very end. During the race I went back and forth a few times with the ‘local running celebrity’ – “Tina” – who had friends on every corner and a running buddy to join her every few miles. However she opened a gap on me during my bad patch and so I just tried to keep her in my sights and use her to help me achieve my goal. The strategy paid off as in the last few miles along the bike path I managed to run in the 6.40s. I then pulled off my very last mile in 6.36 to cross the 50 yard finish line on the Toledo University football field in 2.59.14. This earned me 4th place female, a small cash prize and a jacket. Holy Toledo I did it! Sub 3! Boston here I come next year.