I initially signed up for the half marathon and in June after going to the HDSA National Convention in Louisville in June. I was pumped up, I was inspired, I wanted to run another 26.2 for my Dad and to celebrate my birthday by running the same marathon - twice - in the same year of my life. My intentions were good, I had other races lined up to help with training runs and I was really excited about this year's race season. Yep, I'm a *real* runner now, I have a race season! It's crazy.
Things were going well and when I ran the Emerald City in August I was on par with where I needed to be to run the full 26.2 again. When I got a sinus infection following the race, was out from training for a whole three weeks, I was really skeptical about being ready. I thought I would dredge on and finish somehow, but the more I thought about it I knew that was a bad idea. Could I have finished? Sure. Would I have ended up in a walking boot with a stress fracture from being severely undertrained? Probably. No bride wants to wear a walking boot down the aisle so I decided to play it safe by sticking with the half marathon. The race was sold out and I couldn't transfer my bib back to the half, so I made the turn with the half marathoners and called it a day. Best decision ever. The only thing is I feel weird about wearing a 26.2 shirt I didn't earn and hanging a 26.2 medal on my rack I didn't complete… so I'll hang it in the back.
SO… to the actual race! We headed to Columbus on Saturday late morning after dropping Penny off at her favorite doggie boarding spot. (She subsequently broke out of her crate in the middle of the night and the staff found her in the small dog yard in the morning, but that's neither here nor there… she does what she wants.) We stopped for Raising Cane's for lunch and met up with our wedding florist and checked off our very last vendor after having all the others booked for at least the last 10 months! We made it to the expo at around 3:30pm, right during the Ohio State game, and it was PACKED. I was so surprised at how busy it was during the game, but not everyone who runs this race is from Columbus so I can understand. The expo was big and awesome, as usual, and held at the Columbus Convention Center. There was a Nike store, other race vendors, the few running stores in Columbus were represented, and many fun booths with swag and gear. I picked up a few packages of sports beans and made my way upstairs to pick up my race pack. They had the list of those celebrating their birthdays and gave out birthday buttons again, but I didn't get one because my birthday is today, Monday, instead of either Saturday or Sunday. No worries, I had my own birthday button to wear! I was pretty much in and out without any problems. Kyle and I went to Olive Garden, our old stomping grounds, for dinner instead of my desired Spaghetti Warehouse just for logistical purposes and I was full and happy. We went back to our hotel and set the alarms for 5:00AM - someone (not me) wasn't happy about it, but he's a good sport!
I woke up just a few minutes before the alarm went off and I was up and ready to go. I fixed my hair a bit and of course put on some mascara (cameras are everywhere, hello!) and put on my very favorite race outfit to date. I was celebrating my last race bling before the ring and I wanted to go in bridal style! I had a shirt made with some pink fabric paint but my cat, Felix, jumped on the table just as I had finished it and walked right through the paint. Fail. I bought another shirt.
I was ready to go and we headed to Panera for my usual bagels for the drive. Yes, I eat two plain bagels before a half! My other races have been on Saturdays and I forgot until we pulled in that Panera doesn't open until 7 on Sundays instead of 6, so that didn't go so well. There was luckily a Tim Horton's not too far away and I got my bagel fix there. The one perk of race season - bagels. Mmmm.
The weather was perfect, about 45 degrees with an expected high of about 55 and sunny for the day. Honestly, this was my ideal running weather and I was loving every second of the cool air. In the corrals there were so many people that you couldn't feel the coolness and I was warm while waiting for the race to start. The start and finish was combined this year, unlike previous years, and it was a bit confusing to get into the corrals when the whole block was fenced off. I was in the very back in corral D and that was the only entrance I saw into the area and there were TONS of people. The bathrooms there were way backed up and I had seen some further up and fought the crowd to get to them and back into my area. I think that's definitely an improvement they will need to look into for future years if they choose to keep that same place for the combined start/finish, but they're aware. I don't know how the A and B corrals ever got where they needed to be unless there was another gate to get in that I never saw.
Anyway, I arrived around 7:00 and before I knew it, it was 7:25 and the wheelchair athletes were off! I ran into a few instagram followers/friends (Hey Katie! Lyndsey! Lisa! whoop whoop!) The big perk for our large field of athletes is they have a double start so everyone can enjoy it since we're wrapped around either a city block or in this case in a U shape this year. The national anthem was sung, and the fireworks were set off. Those of you who know me know I HATE fireworks, but it sure was a pretty way to start the day! Then once the A and B corrals were off they did the whole thing over again for the C and D corral and that is truly one of my favorite parts of this race - it's all about the experience for everyone! The new start was electric - the street was lined with speakers so the music was pumping and the fans at the start in the new bleachers and all along the roads were packed in. There's always great crowd support but I think this years start was better than previous years! The first two miles flew by with all the people and cheering. I didn't feel as cramped nor did I experience the dodging that comes with bigger races and people all trying to get away from each other at the start, it was fabulous.
Every mile of the Columbus Marathon has a patient champion represented and the mile is decorated with their chosen theme. All of these kiddos have been patients at Nationwide Children's Hospital, home of my first nursing job out of school, and it holds a special place in my heart. It was my mission to have a fun time, high five and greet each and every patient champion, and all the parents in mile 11, the Angel Mile, who were there to honor their angels who have already finished their race. It is always a very emotional mile for me, but this year after some experiences I have encountered in my nursing career, it hit even closer to home. I wanted to hug and thank each family for supporting US through their grief. I'm tearing up just writing about it, and I can't explain what it's like to see these people smiling and cheering in honor of their children for US. I have a special bond with some families and have shared in some part of their grief over the last year, and I can only imagine their faces as I ran through the mile. Every sign of their babies, some smiling, some intubated but with pretty bows in their hair and their big eyes looking at the camera, reminds me of my job and my families. Our families. I am so thankful for my job and these families who trust me with their babies day in and day out, and my heart is both full and aches in a constant feeling of wondering if I did enough, if we did enough, every day that I work. These families are like my families and they are there for all of us running through their mile. It's more than I can put into words. More than I can properly convey. I shook the hands of each parent holding a sign of their sweet loved children and wiped the tears with my sleeves as I carried on.
I had no intentions of PRing. I had no intentions of being able to run the whole race considering how the last few weeks have gone. But when I was finishing mile 11 and my RunKeeper app told me my time and I was figuring it out in my head - if I kept running, I would CRUSH my PR. There was a PR gong waiting in the finishers area to be hit by all those who scored PR's that day and I wanted to HIT IT. So off I went; through mile 11, the turn into 12, past the 13 mile sign and across that finish line in 2:40:58 according to my RunKeeper. 2:42 official time. I had done it! My PR of 2:46 was SMOKED, my last weeks time of 2:50 DEMOLISHED… I had finally freaking done it. Minus greeting those parents and patients and the slow down through the water stops - I had run the whole half marathon. I was elated and got through the finishers area with my marathon medal (whoops… but it's the bib I had!) and got my finisher goodie bag, water, chocolate milk and cookie. I went out the athlete exit to look for my family and fiancé and to FIND THAT GONG. While it was a big cluster of people, I never found the gong. I found my family and I got hugs and pictures and we called it a day. I was on top of the world and I knew that if I wouldn't have felt guilty having them wait several more hours for me, I would have kept going and finished that marathon. Just knowing that I could have done it had I really wanted to makes me feel like I can do anything. On this day last year I completed a marathon, not knowing how I would make it through and with a lot of convincing from my sidekick, Carrie, I crossed the finish line. This year - I could have done it. I know I could. I am confident that with the right mindset I can accomplish all of my dreams, both physical and beyond that. I know I will one day get to my goal weight, I know one day I'll finish that triathlon and I will finish another marathon. I have so much life ahead of me and I know I will accomplish everything I want to do in my life - and that is enough for me. It may sound arrogant and it may seem cocky - but the confidence I have in myself and my abilities isn't something I had a year or 18 months ago. The mental changes I have had over this two year journey is bigger than the pounds lost or the new clothes I can fit into. The Lindsay who hid behind jokes and smiles is no longer hiding - they are genuine feelings that I have 99% of the time. Not every day is good, but there is good in every day. Yesterday was both a good day and there was so much good in the day that it was palpable.
I'll see you next year, Columbus. My favorite city, my favorite place. My home.