Monday, October 17, 2011

26.2 Reasons To Smile AKA My Columbus Marathon Race Report

Saturday afternoon Deb (my best friend) and I headed to Columbus so I could head to the expo and pick up my race packet for my 3rd marathon attempt on Sunday. After a short stop on the way down for a tiny bite to eat and yet another bathroom break for me, we arrived at the expo. We entered the expo backwards and were doing a little shopping but I told Deb I would feel better if I had my bib number in hand and then we could finish shopping. She happily agreed and we headed over to the packet pickup area and I found my name and bib number on the wall. Headed to the appropriate line (which was the shortest line I might add, I guess I know how to pick them) and received my bib number and swag bag and then walked over to the other side of the pickup area to get my shirt. After this we continued shopping during which time I managed to walk out with only purchasing some 26.2 car magnets for myself and my friend Deb (no not the one I was with, the other one). I also stopped at the pace group booth and grabbed a 4:15 pace band (which by the way had splits to finish in 4:13:06) so I wouldn’t have to do math and run at the same time! Deb purchased a stick, an I-fitness belt which seemed really cool, and a sweet pair of Nike shoes. I did look at some Columbus Marathon gear on our way out but I was underwhelmed by it so I decided not to buy any.

After the expo we headed to Easton to check into our hotel. When I was checking in I asked for a late check out as I was running the marathon and the front desk lady said how about 12:00 to which I told her I was really hoping for 2:00 but I would settle for 1:00. She looked up at me and said no problem and then proceeded to ask me if I would like some bananas since I was running in the morning. I graciously accepted her offer. Once we got settled in we headed to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner. As we were waiting for a table there was plenty of people watching to be had. Deb and I were having a ball analyzing what people were wearing! Once we got seated we were looking over the menu and I was checking out the beer list to which our waitress said, “I see you are looking at the beer list. Just so you know we have Yuengling on draft.” I immediately said “done, I will take one” (what can I say; it’s the PA in me). Deb had a really yummy drink as well but of course I can’t remember the name of it at the moment. We decided to share a chop salad and we both ordered fish tacos. On our way back to the hotel we stopped at Trader Joe’s to buy a few things, namely electrolyte enhanced water for me for the race. We had talked with Dave earlier in the day and he was planning to crash on the couch of our suite so we left a key for him at the front desk since he wouldn’t be getting in until after midnight and we would certainly be asleep! After taking care of the key drop we headed upstairs and I got everything ready for the morning, read my Runner’s World for a bit, and called it a night. After all, I had a 4:30AM alarm to contend with along with a 4:45AM wake-up text from Deb and Missi who were in the middle of driving from Cleveland to Columbus to support me in the marathon.  I slept pretty well and got up with the alarm with no problem. I walked out to the kitchen part of our suite and tried to be quiet as to not wake Dave but that didn’t exactly work so since he was up anyway I asked if he minded if I turned the light on. Fortunately he was fine with that and sitting on the table was a gift bag which said it all.
After starting a pot of coffee I opened the card and gift bag. The card had the perfect saying on it for the challenge I was about to face and the gifts were very thoughtful. They included a small balloon that said “It’s your day”, the running book "Staying The Course:  A Runner's Toughest Race", Power Bar gummies, sample size bio-freeze, sample size Glide, and a cute stuffed monkey which of course my daughter confiscated when I got home last night. A few minutes later Deb came out to the kitchen and we all chatted. Shortly after I started on my first cup of coffee, Deb (the other one) and Missi who had been driving since 3:00AM arrived at the hotel. I was pretty calm while I drank my coffee, and ate my peanut butter bagel and banana. Everyone was asking me how I was feeling and if I was nervous to which I happily responded “I feel great and I’m not nervous at all”. With breakfast eaten, I got ready for the race, filled my fuel belt and handed additional items to everyone else just in case I needed them later in the race. We took a few pictures and we headed out for the start line.

Deb did an amazing job of navigating the spectating minivan. She skipped the exit that had a crazy long line and took the next one and got us pretty darn close to the start line in a very timely manner. Once we were parked and started heading toward the start line I told Deb that I needed a restroom so it would be awesome if she could locate one before I got to the start line and had to wait in the port-a-potty line. As we were walking Deb casually told me to go right and sure enough there was a hotel with clean, line free restrooms! Final bathroom break taken care of and we continued on to the start line. I thanked Deb again for finding the restroom when we got to the start line and the port-a-potty line was never ending! We took a few more pictures and shared a few hugs and then my spectators/race support sent me on my way to the start line with a promise of seeing me at mile 18 if not before (there had been discussion in the van of them being at mile 7).
I tried to make my way to Corral D but there were crowds of spectators and runners so I settled for Corral E which I got into by jumping a fence. We listened to the star spangled banner and the start horn sounded along with a fireworks display. It was pure awesome!

While waiting for my corral to go, I took a moment and touched my back bib and thought of Uncle Joe. I looked up to the sky and I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. This was my day and I knew he would carry me through.
Right before it was my turn to cross over the starting mat I sent a text message to Dave letting him know that I would be runner left so that they would be on the correct side of the street when I got to them.

Miles 1-5
The start was incredibly crowded but I managed to navigate my way through and get into a nice rhythm. Shortly after mile 1 I heard someone calling my name. I turned to my right and I saw one of my college friends, Elli. She told me she recognized my shirt and we ran together for a few minutes. I was happy to see her! I was feeling pretty good which is probably to be expected this early in the race. I remember wondering at the 5K mark why there wasn’t a timing mat since I knew my spectators/race support were tracking me and I was a little ahead of my anticipated race pace. I was feeling good, taking in water on the odd miles and sustain (my electrolyte drink of choice) on the even miles. I would go on to eat Power Bar Gummies at the 1 hour, 2 hour, and 3 hour marks. I noticed I had a pretty decent cushion on my pace band which made me smile.

Mile 1: 9:38
Mile 2: 9:17
Mile 3: 9:13
Mile 4: 9:17
Mile 5: 9:21

Miles 6-10
I was honestly having the time of my life running and taking in the scenery and all of the amazing spectators. I remember looking at my watch as I crossed the 10K mat and thinking I would be seeing my support crew soon as they had mentioned mile 7 in the van. I got to mile 7 and they were nowhere in sight but I was oddly okay with it because I knew I would see them at mile 18 when Missi and Deb (the other one) would join in and run with me. What I didn’t know is Deb (my best friend) was talking with everyone in the van and told them that she knew I was going to run faster than my intended pace so they should go with 9:00 miles to ensure they got to me in time. As I came up on mile 9 I could see Deb’s jacket and then I saw everyone else. I waved at them like crazy and gave them all a high-five as I rounded the corner and continued on. It was a very welcome surprise that put a little more pep in my step or stride as it may be! Come to find out later that it made more sense for them to walk to mile 9 from a few blocks away and that’s why they weren’t at 7.

Mile 6: 9:07
Mile 7: 9:25
Mile 8: 9:20
Mile 9: 9:13
Mile 10: 9:03

Miles 11-15
One of my co-workers had mentioned on Facebook prior to the race that she would be at the corner of Reinhard and Jaeger. I looked up the location of said intersection on the course map and noticed she would be between miles 10 and 11. As I was running along I kept an eye out for her and sure enough I saw her right before mile 11. I yelled her name a few times and then she finally realized it was me. It was nice to see a familiar face on the course again. Still feeling incredibly good at this point I was just taking it all in and enjoying the moment. Right around mile 12 I noticed a familiar ponytail swing and pink shirt. I knew instantly that it was my co-worker Kristin who was running her first half. I called out her name and said hello. She asked me if I was running the full and I said yes. She squeezed my hand and told me I was looking great and shouted good luck as I went by. I wished her luck as well and continued on my way. Imagine my surprise when I approached mile 12.5 and I saw none other than my support crew! I was beyond happy to see them as I was certain I wouldn’t see them again until mile 18. Once again I waved at them like crazy and gave another round of high-fives. This is the part of the race where you have to mentally prepare yourself as you essentially run past the finish line to continue on the marathon course. As the half marathon runners were making a left to the finish line we were going up a small hill towards mile 14. One of the volunteers looked me dead in the eye and said “you’re awesome, they suck (pointing to the runners turning left).” It totally cracked me up and it was just what I needed. Let me clarify before I go on, I have the utmost respect for half marathon runners in fact the half marathon is my favorite race. Her comment just happened to be the comic relief I needed at that moment to propel me up that hill. I happily hit the half marathon mat at 2:02:14. As I passed mile 14 there was a couple sitting on lawn chairs with a sign that read if you are running, we are drinking. I looked over at them and said “I’m running, why aren’t you drinking?” They immediately picked up their cups and took a drink. I was still feeling good as we approached a water stop. I was happy that I had my own water because the water stops were pretty crowded.

Mile 11: 9:07
Mile 12: 9:29
Mile 13: 9:15
Mile 14: 9:19
Mile 15: 9:29

Miles 16-20
I continued to feel good and had some nice memories of Uncle Joe at mile 16. I smiled knowing that he was watching over me. I thought of Uncle Joe a lot during mile 16 because of the significance of the number. During this stretch of the race we ran on The Ohio State University Campus. It was really neat to be able to see right into The Shoe. There were college students outside cheering for us and the campus water stop was by far the best water stop energy wise. The only thing I found odd about running on campus was that we turned around a cone in a parking lot to head back out onto the course. This was the only time that you were able to see the runners who were behind you. I knew after exiting the campus I would see my support crew again which also meant that I would be getting some much needed company on the course. I spotted my support crew from about a ¼ of a mile away and waved at them as I had done the previous two times I saw them. I got the best hugs ever from Deb (my best friend) and Dave and then Missi and Deb (the other one) jumped in with me. During the hugs my earphones got all tangled so I asked Missi to fix them for me. Once I was readjusted the girls asked me how I was feeling and I told them I was feeling really good and I was having fun. They told me I was looking great and that I had this. I was so happy to have their company at this point. I didn’t talk too much but I did tuck in behind Missi a lot to get out of some of the wind that had kicked up. Once we hit mile 20 I said “how about we run a 10K” to which Missi replied “you’ve got this, you’re doing awesome”. Moments after I made that comment the pain set in. I started saying my running mantra to myself, “Uncle Joe, Uncle Joe” and of course it helped. This race was just as much for him as it was for me.

Mile 16: 9:25
Mile 17: 9:26
Mile 18: 9:35
Mile 19: 9:59
Mile 20: 9:49

Miles 21-25
I knew we would be seeing Deb and Dave soon as Dave would be jumping in with us around mile 22 and mile 22 is when the pain really hit me. I wanted to walk so badly but I was terrified to do so in fear that I wouldn’t be able to start running again. After the fact Deb would tell me that she could see the pain written all over my face. Dave jumped in and that certainly lifted my spirits. Now I had three people supporting me when I needed it the most! Most of you know my previous two marathon stories but if you don’t you can read about them here and here. Mile 22 holds a very significant place in my head and my heart so it was only fitting that Dave asked me what the flag up ahead said to which I replied 22 with a smile. I realized how badly I was hurting and at mile 23 I told everyone that we were running on Uncle Joe reserves. Missi pointed up to the sky and said that’s right, don’t you worry, she’s got this. Deb also told me I was doing awesome at this point. I was seriously ready to be done and even said can we just get me to the finish line? I kept plugging along and throwing out expletives when the wind would grab me. Dave asked me what the flag said again at mile 23 and I said 23 and managed a smile. It was getting harder by the minute. Everything was hurting, I was tired, and I was ready to be done. My pace slowed a bit before we hit mile 24. I once again responded with a smile to Dave’s flag question! I was exhausted but I knew I was doing it and I knew I would have to really slow down to not make my goal time. As we rounded a corner there was course entertainment that was playing an awesome song (can’t think of the name of it for the life of me) and I threw my hands up in a fist pump. I was trying anything at this point to get me to the end. We approached the mile 25 flag (which is by far the most incredibly significant mile in my marathons) and Dave asked me one last time “what’s that flag say?” I pretty much screamed 25. He asked me no less than 3 more times to which I happily replied 25! At this point Missi looked at me and said “let’s finish this, enjoy these last 1.2 miles. This is what you trained for, this is YOUR day.” I told her she had to stop talking or she was going to make me cry. It was all I could do to hold it together. I am certain I took her advice as mile 25 was my slowest mile all day. I was taking it all in!

Mile 21: 9:36
Mile 22: 9:39
Mile 23: 9:43
Mile 24: 9:47
Mile 25: 10:13

The Finish
I can vividly remember the last water stop because one of the workers was holding a sign that said 1.2 to go. This water stop also stuck out in my mind because there was a young boy who looked at me and said “you’ve got this, you’ve got heart, you can do it.” Before I knew it I saw the ½ mile to go sign. Just before I hit the 26 mile flag Deb, Missi, and Dave gave me some last minute encouraging words and told me to finish it. The moment I ran past the 26 mile flag the tears started flowing. There was only .2 miles standing between me and the finish line of the Columbus Marathon. I gave it my all and owned that last .2 miles. As I crossed the mat and heard my name announced I threw my hands up in the air and that’s when the uncontrollable sobbing started. I had done it. I had finished MY marathon, I had beaten MY goal by 5 minutes, and I had done MY Uncle Joe proud. I bent over to collect my thoughts and one of the volunteers asked me if I was okay to which I responded “I’m great”. With full fledged tears still running down my cheeks I received my medal from a very nice looking military man. I stopped to have my finish picture taken and then I headed to the family reunion area.

Mile 26: 9:52
Final .2 (.42 according to my Garmin): 3:33
FINISH TIME: 4:10:11*
(Garmin says 4:10:24 however I didn’t stop it right away because I was too busy celebrating!)
*A PR of 1 hour and 43 minutes

Once I was in the family reunion area and had my water and chocolate milk I texted Coach Joe, who created my awesome training plan, my finish time.  Thanks again for everything Joe!   After I sent the text I walk past someone and she says “Jodi?” Sure enough it was April, a girl I went to high school with. I graduated with her husband Mark and he was running the marathon as well. It was crazy that we ran into each other. I shared a hug with both April and Mark and she decided she needed to take a picture of the high school classmates almost 20 years later. Really April, did you have to age us?

I congratulated Mark and then Dave called my phone and I was reunited with him, Deb, and Missi. Many tearful hugs were exchanged. Although I’m pretty sure I was the only one bawling like a baby! I immediately asked where Deb (my best friend) was and it turned out she was stuck in traffic trying to get to the finish line. We finally reunited with her and we shared a hug, she told me congratulations and said I'm sorry.  She was really upset and felt bad that she wasn’t at the finish line but I told her having her on the course at miles 9, 12.5, 18, and 21.5 meant the world to me. I also told her the hugs at mile 18 totally trumped her not being at the finish line and no apology was necessary.  I wouldn’t change it for the world.
The painful walk back to the car commenced and we made it back to the hotel where I felt human again after a nice hot shower. I am happy to report that I didn’t have one ounce of chafing and only a tiny blister on my pinky toe to speak of. After I showered I told them I had to run another one so I could break 4 hours. Deb (my best friend) said who are you kidding, you’re going to run until you qualify for Boston. Once everyone was cleaned up we headed to California Pizza Kitchen once again because I was starving and I really wanted fish tacos and a chop salad again. We enjoyed a nice lunch and then we said our goodbyes and headed home.

This post is not complete without my expression of gratitude to Deb (my best friend), Missi, Deb (the other one), Dave, and last but not certainly least my Uncle Joe for seeing me through to the end. Talk about friendship at its very best! Thank you will never be enough!

So, how am I feeling post marathon? I am fully aware of every single muscle in my body right now. I am still flying on my “runner’s high” and I am over the moon happy and can’t wipe the smile off my face. I can honestly say it was PERFECT!!

Final thoughts:

When’s the next one because I had the time of my life yesterday!!
Keep running, you’re simply the best, and you inspire me!!!


  1. Congrats!! It sounds like it was a wonderful race!

  2. I love being able to hear the smile on your face in your words! I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!! Everything I could cross was crossed on Sunday and I kept obsessively checking for updates all morning! You totally rocked that race and finally ran the race that everyone who knows and loves you knows you were capable of running! I am SO glad the day came together and I can't wait to read the next recap where you go sub-4. :) Congrats again girl, you are my hero!

  3. WOW great recap! I'm a new follower, found you on the Ragnar Team facebook page. 1hr+ PR! Epic!

  4. Hey Jodi, found you from the Ragnar group!! Did you seriously PR by 1 hour and 43 minutes? You are incredible!! Awesome race!

  5. Wowzas! What an incredible race! You really did it, girl! Another fabulous training cycle and you have Sub 4 in the bag! Recover well, and bask in the sulight of your success!

  6. Jodi!! I have tears in my eyes reading this!! :) I was obsessively checking Facebook all day waiting for the updates to come in and every time one came in I would get a huge smile on my totally rocked this race!! What a journey you have had. So proud of you!!

  7. Congratulations, Jodi! You are a rock star!

  8. just amazing Jodi! i knew you could do it! you made my eyes sweaty with this recap. congrats doesn't seem to cut it! seriously though, great job. and great recap. you are an inspiration!

  9. AMAZING! Congrats on an awesome race! :)

  10. Jodi - I am so proud of you! You ran a tremenous race and really honored your Uncle in a grand way. Those final miles are the ones that you train so hard for - the first 20 are just the warm-up :)

    Great, great job - enjoy this one for awhile. When you are ready for that sub 4:00 Marathon you know who to call.

    Congrats again Jodi! So happy for you.

  11. Awesome run Jodi! Congrats!! Amazing!

  12. I had to work hard to keep from crying reading this! Granted I'm a little emotional these days, but WOW what a race! This pre-race Jodi is NOT the girl I saw in Cleveland, at all. I am so, so happy for you. You nailed this!

  13. Congratulations on the huge PR and on beating your goal time!

  14. This made me cry! I've been following your marathon story and am so happy for you. What an accomplishment! Brava!

  15. Awww. Wonderful, Jodi! I know Uncle Joe was with you every step, and wow, way to knock out a PR, sista. Congratulations!

  16. Congrats on an amazing race Jodi! You are truly blessed to have such an amazing group of family and friends who support you in your running! This was truly your race! I've read many marathon recap blogs from friends who have run their races in the past two weeks, and yours truly has me even more pumped for my first marathon on Oct. 30.

  17. Great recap, Jodi! I'm glad that I waited until now to read it because it gave me a chance to re-live my own race now that the sore muscles have all healed up. You captured all the emotions that I felt that day so well and in my mind I was back running those streets again. Awesome, awesome job!!!