On Saturday, May 4, 2013, over 14,000 runners (including yours truly) crowded the streets of downtown Columbus to take part in the 10th Anniversary Capital City Half Marathon (which also included the Patron Quarter Marathon and the Commit To Be Fit 5K). It was a picture-perfect day with runner-approved weather - mild temperatures and zero preciptiation. Save for some windy conditions, it truly was an ideal day for a race!
The Capital City Half Marathon holds a special place in my heart. It seems silly, but it is true. It was one year ago, on May 5, 2012, that I ran in my first ever half marathon (and, to date my only half marathon). I remember being exceptionally neurotic (more so than normal) about every detail of the event - arriving a good hour and a half early, bringing extra layers of clothes for any possible scenario, having friends there serving practically as my personal assistants (err, I mean "moral support"). It was a whole new monster and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never really run a race before, save for competitvely in high school and a silly ol' Warrior Dash. Nothing serious or to this magnitude.
Last year's race was euphoric - tons of spectators cheering me on, tons of friends running with me, and tons of money raised for American Cancer Society. The event catapulted me into the wide world of running, and I have competed in a total of 16 foot-races in the past year alone!! I owe all of this to the Capital City Half Marathon.
Which is why, when I returned in 2013, I had an indescrible and surreal feeling. I was back at the very event that started it all! I couldn't help but look around and be grateful for the past year and the journey I have had. All the fun people I have met along the way, all of the bonding I have had with friends and family who have participated with me in various races, all the causes I raised awareness for.
That being said, I also was now an old pro at the whole race scene. I knew what to eat the night before and the morning of the race (my friend Jem will call me out for eating some queso dip and ice cream so I may as well admit it here now), I knew what stretches to do, where to park and where to go when I arrived, I knew it all! But that still didn't stop me from having the inevitable butterflies before the race. Had I trained enough (ahem, no)? Did I get enough rest (thankfully I did, this time)? What if I have to pee (tough luck - I ain't stoppin!)? A lot of worries went through my head still, but it seemed like that was natural.
This year I was running the Quarter Marathon instead of the Half. This decision had a lot to do with the fact that I hurt my knee big time last year, and I want to slowly work my way back up to a half. This lightened the mood a bit for me as well, knowing I didn't have as long to run as I did last year!! I didn't bring those "personal assistants" with me to take a thousand pictures and hold all my luggage. I arrived alone, and met up with one of my best friends, Richard, and my pals Lyndsey & Rachel (sisters!).
While I was running for the American Cancer Society (and had my jersey adorned with ribbons of cancer survivors and victims), Richard was running for another great cause: Team Kelly, in honor of a friend of his, a fallen Marine, Robert M. Kelly. And, we were all running for another cause: Boston. Fresh on the heels of the recent bombing at the Boston Marathon, a moment of silence was announced just prior to the race followed by Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," which holds special meaning to the tragedy.
After words from Mayor Mike Coleman and Race Director David Babner, the horn sounded and all 14,000 of us lined up in our corrals on Front Street made our way North to the Arena District. We were greeted almost immediately by a challenging hill - thankfully our adrenaline was taking over at this point! We turned left onto Vine Street, where DJs lined the streets cranking out dance remixes to get us pumped up! Soon, we hit a water station, which I regretfully bypassed, and then turned right onto Olentangy River Road. A few folk/rock bands later, it was time for the Quarter Marathoners to split from the Half Marathoners. The Half-ers kept going North on Olentangy while the Quarter runners (like me this year) made a right onto 5th Avenue.
On 5th Avenue, traffic was backed up all the way to High Street. I tried not to look any of those motorists in the eye, because you know that they were all pretty P.O.'ed at the fact that their day had been snarled by us runners. I joked to myself that if you don't want to have to deal with the road closures from the marathon, you can avoid it by just participating in the event yourself! After running all the way down Fifth, we turned right onto High Street in the Short North, running south to approach downtown. Hundreds of spectators cheered us on, and surprisingly a good number of HALF marathoners had caught up and were passing me by! I admire those who are REAL runners. You know, the ones who are genetically predispositioned to run faster than one should ever be able to run? The people that look like they aren't struggling at all, yet are running faster than I could bike? Yeah, those people!
I had the last laugh, though, because I knew that when we got to Broad Street, all I had to do was circle around the Statehouse and I was practically at the finish line, while those people still had to weave through German Village for another 5 miles or so. I finished my race with a time of 56:55, ranking 151st place out of 2,010 runners. Not too shabby! My face was beet red and I was dying for water! I swear I was more concered about getting water than I was about getting my medal (which said Patron on it, so it definitely is cool in my book).
Security was tight this year (for obvious reasons), so once you got your bananas and bagels and such, you couldn't get anymore! So I stocked up and went to the Columbus Commons to listen to a really awesome cover band singing old 90s tunes while I sipped on champagne and Michelob Light (who cares that it was only 9AM?? I just ran a quarter marathon, damnit!). I met up with my coworker Ericka and I then made my way to the finish line to cheer on Lyndsey, Rachel and Richard!!
There was truly no where else I would rather have been than at the Capital City Half (cough, Quarter, cough) Marathon that morning. It begs the question: why don't even MORE people I know do this?? It may seem crazy to run all these miles, but trust me, it's ALL worth it! Just try it, and you will see for yourself!