Friday, October 25, 2013

Columbus Marathon

I am not a runner.  I did run cross country in high school for four years, but as one of the slowest members on the team, I was there more for the exercise and the chance to hang out with my friends and cheer on our faster teammates.  I loved my cross country team and wouldn’t trade that experience for anything, but I’m still not a runner, at least not a very good one.  My preferred forms of exercise are gentle, like yoga and hiking (my hiking is at a pretty slow pace because I’m distracted with taking photographs or trying to spot a bird I hear… this happens a lot, I walk faster than I hike!).

My mom and sister are runners.  They actually enjoy running and do it both for exercise, and for fun. 

This is something I appreciate and slightly envy them for because it’s a great way to exercise, but I mostly do not understand it.  In cross country races my favorite part of the race was carbo-loading two nights before.  My favorite year of cross country was the year all of my training was done on my bike and I only ran the races due to severe shin splints (this may be the real reason I dislike running, my shins start to bother me if I walk too fast for too long, they’re that wimpy!).  I enjoyed the long bike rides even though I rode three times the mileage and am slightly unsteady on two wheels, but my legs didn't hurt!

Columbus Marathon 2010, walking to the start of the race.

Since 2010 when Kenneth and I first moved to Columbus, my mom has ran the Columbus Marathon every year.  The first two years she and my sister, Brittney, ran the half-marathon, last year the two of them upgraded to the full marathon.  This year my sister is co-oping at an architecture firm in Chicago and was unable to run the marathon, so my mom ran it by herself.  I think my mom is incredibly brave and a little crazy to take on 26.2 miles on her own.  She trained all Summer and Fall and finished the marathon in 5 hours and 55 minutes.  My shins are still sore from the short walk that I went on with my dad and Kenneth just to see her run by the gigantic OSU football stadium.  My mom and sister are awesome!

Columbus Marathon 2010, still working our way to the start line.

Watching a marathon from the sidelines is no real way to experience what it’s like to run a marathon.  Since I have little desire to ever put my puny shins through such an experience, I have asked my mom and sister some questions about why they run and what the Columbus Marathon is like.  The photographs in this post are from several years of the Columbus Marathon, including this year's marathon which was held on this past Sunday on October 20, 2013.

Columbus Marathon 2010, the start of the race.

Why do you run?
Brittney - I enjoy running because it gives me time to de-stress. I'm pretty bad about motivating myself to go run between work and school, but every time I manage to get myself out there – it’s always worth it.
Lori (my mom) - It makes me feel good. The actual running is relaxing on shorter runs and I like the feeling of accomplishment on longer runs. It’s a time when I don’t have to answer any questions and no one interrupts your thoughts. Your mind can wander wherever it wants. I also like how I feel better the rest of the day if I run in the morning.

What is your ideal distance to run?
Brittney - I like the longer distances. I don't tend to run very fast, but the long, slow distances (LSD's as we called them in high school) are always the most enjoyable for me. If it’s a nice course and not just a repeating mile track, I'd prefer the 6 mile range runs.
Lori - 5 miles.

Columbus Marathon 2010, Brittney running (and rocking an old Piqua Cross Country t-shirt!).

What is your favorite race experience?
Brittney – [It’s] hard to pick a specific race experience that really stands out. My most memorable races were instances that I was really proud of something, could have been my time, or that my training really paid off. The RIP Runs (Run in Piqua Run - a bit redundant, I know) are always a great experience and I'm looking forward to being back in Piqua to try and get a tombstone at some point in my life! The RIP Run is a 5K held in Piqua near the end of October. Most of the course winds through the cemetery and finishes at a nearby park. People always dress up in their best Halloween costumes, so the atmosphere is pretty amazing!
Lori - Running across the Mackinac Bridge, which connects the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. The race was just under 6 miles and the view watching the sun rise as I ran across the bridge was unbelievable. The weather was also perfect.

Columbus Marathon 2013, the 4 hour and 30 minute pace setter and other runners.

What do you think about when you run?
Brittney - My mind is all over the place when I run. It’s part of the reason that I don't listen to music (and because Frazier, my amazing high school cross-country coach, was so against us listening to music while we ran). Running gives me time to think about the day's events and plan out my schedule. It also just gives me a time to slow down and appreciate things. During a normal day, I have to focus on the task at hand and when I take a break, it’s normally to read or watch a movie/show. Running is down time that lets me focus on other things.
Lori - Sometimes I think about things that are going on in my life at the time or what I have to do but most of the time, I just take in the scenery and listen to music if I am outside or watch a movie if I am on the treadmill.

Columbus Marathon 2013, my husband and my dad leaving me in their dust (they walk really fast!).

Do you listen to music when you run or just take in the scenery? If you do listen to music, what are some of your favorite running songs?
Lori - I listen to music. I don’t have any favorite running songs. As long as they have a good beat, I’m happy. Nothing slow.

Are there any other exercises you enjoy? 
Brittney - In high school, I loved the winter season when we did strength training at the weight room. I was pretty puny in high school, so building muscle felt very satisfactory. I found it so fascinating that one could target such a specific group of muscles and really tell that you were making a difference. Strength training definitely falls behind running as far as enjoyable exercises, but it’s probably my next favorite thing to do.
Lori - I like hiking, biking, swimming.

Columbus Marathon 2013, outside of the Ohio State University football stadium.

What is the best part of the Columbus Marathon?
Brittney - The Columbus Marathon has a ton of amazing parts. I always enjoy the music along the way and the crowd support! The Short North area is very deceptive because you think you're running on flat ground, but it’s a gentle incline for most of the way. Whenever I'm going up a hill, I hear "Attack the hill!" which makes me smile and attempt to attack that darn thing. That was always a phrase that coaches would use during practice, so I get to reminisce while I run up a hill.
Lori - Reading the signs and all the people cheering you on. I haven’t ever been a spectator at any race longer than a 5K so I think all the people who come out to cheer people on that they don’t even know, is awesome. I’m sure it’s really neat to watch at first just because of the size of the marathon but after awhile, I would think it might get boring.

Columbus Marathon 2013, Mom running outside of the stadium, still feeling good!

What is the craziest sign you’ve seen at a race/marathon?
Lori - I don’t know that I would call them crazy but my favorites were this year [at the Columbus Marathon]. One was “You’re running better than the government” and the other one I liked was two signs and the first one was “This seemed liked a good idea” and the second sign was “four months ago.”

Do you have any pet peeves about running or running races/marathon?
Lori - People who sign up as a walker and run during the race. You should sign up as a runner and walk if you have to.

Columbus Marathon 2013, I asked the group of four guys on the stairs to cheer for my mom and they did!  "Let's Go Lori, Let's Go!

Do you have any running tips or tricks to share?
Lori - If you haven’t run, start slow and don’t get discouraged. I can remember the first time I started running; I went from our driveway to the neighbor’s which isn’t even 1/10 of a mile and thought I’ll never be able to do this. While I’m not fast and I may have to walk some, I have completed two marathons so never give up.

Any other thoughts on running?
Lori - The other thing I have noticed about runners, is how friendly and encouraging they are. Also the races (whether a 5K or a marathon) are always held to raise money for a good cause. I’m sure there are other adult sporting events that raise money but I think every race I have every done, was raising money for a good cause.

Columbus Marathon 2010, Mom and Britt at the end of the race, exhausted and proudly displaying their medals!

There are a ton of races in Columbus and Central Ohio throughout the year.  For a calendar of upcoming races in the area, check out Ohio Runner or Running in the USA.  For reviews of Ohio races and other fun outdoor pursuits, check out a blog by fellow Ohio blogger, Mike Evans, OHventures!