Race Recap: The Columbus Half Marathon Weekend, Including the Highlights Kids’ Run

This will be a long post as it covers the entire Columbus Marathon weekend, including the Highlights Kids’ Run.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

We dropped our dog off on the way into Columbus at All Tails R Waggin. I strongly recommend this place! We arrived in Columbus around 11:30 AM and had no trouble getting around road closures to find a parking spot close to North Bank Park where the Highlights Kids’ Race was being held. We hit the porta-potties lined up near the C-Corral before making our way into the park. We quickly found the registration booth, collected the boys’ nice backpacks filled with Highlights stuff, and went off to do the passport program they had set up with three different booths.

Our first stop was a bike safety booth where the kids got new, free bike helmets. We were so surprised and happy. The team at this booth worked hard to find a helmet that fit every kid that came to their booth. It was so amazing. Then we stopped at the firefighter booth to learn about fire safety… which my kids were pros at, obviously. Then there was also a water and health booth. They got a bunch of cute and useful free things (a new water bottle, some toys). I loved this aspect of the day because it gave the kids something to do while we waited in the cold wind. The wind was brutal on Saturday and everyone kept commenting that they hoped it died down for the race the next day.

My parents showed up as we waited in line for face painting. LittleBrother went with a pirate theme, complete with eye patch and mustache. He asked if he could wear it to school on Monday. BigBrother simply went with a mustache which he made dance around by wiggling his nose. My mother- and sister-in-law showed up with our nephew Noah before the parade of kids and families, which made for a great time.

Before the Race

With the Race Sign

The parade walked around the kids’ expo area and onto the race course where the kids would run. This was a little confusing and many parents felt uneasy leaving their kids with someone they didn’t know with no real understanding of how the races would be run or how we would retrieve our kids. The parents of the younger kids (3-5 age group) were especially wary. LittleBrother was also wary, asking me at this point if he had to do the kids’ race next year. I said he could do what he wanted next year. The gentleman in charge of the 6-8 age group reassured us and we gave the boys the best instructions we could… and we went and waited down the course from the starting line to watch them run. They did a loop and ran back to where they started.

The boys did great, both running stronger and faster than I had ever seen them run. (Pics of running here.) We quickly walked to the finish to find them and did so with ease. We waited with them while they got a banana and their medals.

Later in the day, LittleBrother asked if he could run the kids’ race again next year because he had so much fun. So despite everyone feeling a little anxious about the confusion, my two kids still enjoyed the race. I imagine we’ll do it again!

We then separated. My parents took the kids back to their hotel (they stayed at the Renaissance and had great customer service) while my husband and I went to the Expo at the Greater Columbus Convention Center which I always forget is gigantic. Having run Columbus last year and having looked at the map of the Expo prior to arrival, I knew that the packet pickup was upstairs. We walked straight to the back of the Expo, went up stairs, retrieved our race packets, and stopped at the Corral Solutions booth. Despite registering with the same goal time, they placed my husband in Corral C and me in Corral B. Our pace group was in Corral B. We explained this to the man at the booth, and he placed a B sticker over the C on my husband’s bib. We were at the booth less than two minutes. We picked up our shirts and goodie bags and hit the downstairs Expo.


My husband was in search of a pair of new shoes for his next pair of running shoes. While a bunch of knowledgeable people were there from Fleet Feet, Columbus Running, and other brand name shoes, no one brought a wide selection of wide shoes. My husband needs a shoe with a very wide toe box and struggles to find a shoe that fits properly. We learned that Mizuno Wave Riders may be his best bet, but they didn’t have his size in the right width. The search continues. I bought some shirts at the official store and checked out a few more booths before we decided to head on out.

I loved this Nike “Girls Gotta Run” shirt so much I bought the short sleeve and the sweatshirt.

We checked into our hotel, the Double Tree Downtown Columbus, and rested in our amazingly awesome room for a bit. Then we headed to dinner. I made reservations for our whole party at 5pm at Elevator Brewing. I made them early because: A) My four person family eats early anyway, B) all of the people in the city for the race, C) all of the people in the city for the OSU game that would be ending shortly that evening, D) race day eve requires early bedtime, so I wanted to eat and get back to our hotel. It started sprinkling on our walk there, and the wind was whipping around buildings.

Our dinners were amazing. LittleBrother picked the chorizo nachos for an appetizer which ended up being a delicious pick. I ordered the drunken mussels linguine which was the perfect portion size of pasta, a delicious taste, and didn’t have red sauce. I can’t eat red sauce the night before a race or it’s heartburn city while running. Our entire party, kids included, loved their meals. The building was amazing, and our waitress, Sam, treated us so well. BigBrother ordered on his own, and possibly flirted with Sam the waitress. All the same, both boys loved their root beers which were made at the restaurant.

Drunken Mussels Linguine
My dinner. OMGSOGOOD.

After dinner, the boys went to the hotel with my parents while my husband and I dodged rain drops on our way back to our hotel. We watched TV for a bit, took hot showers, and I dried my hair before taking Zzzquil at 8:30. I was asleep before 8:45.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The alarm went off at 5:00. I attempted to start the coffee, but the coffee pot in our room was broken. I muttered and grumbled and decided to quit. I drank water and had some BelVita honey bars while getting dressed. I did some last minute debating on what I was wearing. Should I wear the new long sleeve I bought just before race weekend or should I just trust my tank, shorts, and arm warmers would be enough? I decided to trust my gut, but felt pleased that I tossed my new running gloves in at the last minute. I also had a throwaway hoodie to wear down to the corrals while we waited.

Sadly, my husband couldn’t get the coffee pot to work either when he got up 15 minutes later. We grumbled, got dressed, and left our room around 6:00. The walk to North Bank Park didn’t take long at all. The signage wasn’t clear about where to enter corrals, but we eventually found the entrance to Corral B.

I’d show you a photo here, but MarathonFoto says my images aren’t ready to download even though they already took my money. That’s cool of them, isn’t it? Never again.

Groups of people were huddled around heaters just outside the corrals. We decided to just enter our corral and hang out for a bit. My husband stretched while I internally debated whether or not I should hit the porta-potties down the hill from A and B or not. I chose not to, but really started to doubt my decision as 7:00 rolled around. At 7:15 I took off my hoodie and tossed it over the fence. The corral was crowded enough at this point that I didn’t feel too chilly. My husband made a comment that he would bring a sweatshirt or hoodie to toss next year too—even though I mentioned it to him before hand this year. The lessons we learn. (All tossed clothing is collected by Goodwill and donated.)

The national anthem kicked everything off, and the fireworks were even better than last year. Soon we were off across the starting line and running our half marathon.

Mile 1

Oops. Too fast. If you look at every race I’ve ever run, my first mile is always too fast. I suppose the ability to NOT TO comes with time and experience, but I’m not there yet. It was very crowded and my husband and I kept bumping into each other. I was actually surprised we were running that fast, because it felt like we were going nowhere.Split: 9:11

Mile 2

Oops. Too fast. At the start of this mile, my husband pointed out that we took the first mile too fast. I shrugged and said, “It happens.” But we didn’t slow down much. The weather was glorious, we had warmed up, the sun was rising, and everything felt perfect. We were coming down a small grade at this point, so slowing down just didn’t happen. We saw our family at the Presbyterian church just before the two mile marker. I think they were surprised to see us so early because we saw them before they saw us. I was thrilled to see them. I took off my gloves before the end of mile 2, tucking them into the front of my Fuel Belt (causing a bruise before the end of the race). Split: 9:20

Us at Mile 2
I think my husband is one of those “look at this super happy attractive guy running a marathon” type people. Meanwhile, I’m just open-mouthed, catching flies.

Mile 3

More slight downhill grade. Feeling great. Saw a sign that said “No Walken Allowed” with a photo of Christopher Walken, and laughed out loud. At the point, the pack leaders were passing us on their loop back toward the city. Many of us made jokes that we were running that fast too. Did not slow down. Split: 9:12

Mile 4

I loved this section last year and loved it again this year. It’s just so gorgeous back in this area. Apparently gorgeous enough to continue speeding up. I took off my arm warmers before the end of mile 4, tucking them into the sides of my Fuel Belt. Split: 9:01

Mile 5 This mile started with a slight uphill. As we worked hard to get up it, we passed a wheelchair racer struggling to get up the hill. We cheered him on. His name was Brad and everyone around us cheered for him. I hope Brad did well. Once to the top of the hill, we came back down. Split: 9:04

Mile 6

Did not slow down. Split: 9:04

Mile 7

Ah, mile 7. It starts on a weird back section and begins a slow, steady but low grade uphill climb. It affected our pace a little, but we still felt really strong. Split: 9:32

Mile 8

I knew we were coming back up on where we would see our family again, but I didn’t know where. The hill was still affecting our pace, but I felt really great. I just kept running. Split: 9:43

Mile 9

We saw our family just after we crossed the 8 mile marker and that gave us a great boost, even though a guy ran into me as we saw my family and then is in between us in the second picture. It’s funny now; it wasn’t then. We felt strong. We looked good. All was well. Until just after when things started to not feel so great. Split: 9:24

Crashin’ into your side…

…photobombin’ your pictures.

Mile 10

After we passed Nationwide Children’s Hospital, one of the highlights of the whole race, The Suck started to settle in. It was at this point that I thought to myself, “Why on EARTH would I EVER do another FULL marathon? This is awful! This is no good!” My husband made his first complaint, that his hips were starting to hurt. I finally ate some Sport Beans which took forever to chew because of the cold temperatures. Pace took the first big hit. Split: 9:44

Mile 11

Down through German Village, I’ve got nothing. I was struggling to keep up with my husband, falling behind him and trailing him and then pushing back up to be next to him when I felt I could again. Another big pace hit. Split: 10:04

Mile 12

So, running from the beginning of mile 11 to the beginning of mile 12 is a low grade incline up High Street. They moved the Angel Mile to this mile, and I tried to focus on the groups of families on the side cheering for us—these families who have lost their children, their babies. I waved when I could, I said prayers for their hearts. And I really started to doubt whether I would get my PR or not. I started trying to do math in my head, but doing math while running and hitting your physical wall is nearly impossible. So I whined at my husband that I didn’t think I’d get it. I even told him to go ahead if he wanted. He gave me “the look” and we just kept running. Still not a great pace. Split: 10:01

Mile 13

There’s something about passing the mile 12 marker that makes you realize, “OH HEY! I CAN DO THIS!” So we sped back up. Splitting off from the marathon and turning left on Long Street was a great feeling. We passed our family down around a bend just before the finish which gave us a great boost as we pushed it to the end. Split: 9:25

There We Go!
There we go!


My GPS had us running .42 instead of .1, which is likely attributed to turns being taken wide on occasion and back and forth from one side of the road to the other on occasion. We pushed and finished strong. I felt great as we crossed the finish line. Split: 8:38 pace

Time: 2:06:21 — a new Personal Record!
Pace for 13.1: 9:39 // Pace for 13.42: 9:25

My husband ended up with a finishing time of 2:06:22 and we figured out why. He wore his bib pinned across his stomach. I wore my bib pinned across my chest as I had my fuel belt strapped across my waist. In short: My boobs crossed the finish line before my husband’s stomach. That’s the most epic thing I’ve ever heard. Ever.

The finisher’s chute was a bit disappointing as the medals were not ready when we crossed the finish line, though the explanation offered by Race Director Darris Blackford shows what an effort was made to get the medals there at all. We got our blankets and a handy sticker to keep sides taped together so they wouldn’t fall off. We then skipped our official finisher photos since we didn’t have our medals. We got water, chocolate milk, Gatorade, a banana, a cookie, a bagel, and a bag that contained chips, pretzels, and two granola bars. Our family texted us at this point to tell us they were under a tree next to the G-J family reunion flag. Once we figured out where the flags were, we located our family immediately.

We hugged and did all of the congratulatory stuff. Then, since we didn’t have our medals still, we sent the families back to the hotel since we didn’t know how long we would wait. We only waited about five more minutes before someone walked by with a medal. We asked her where to go and she pointed us in the direction and explained the process. We had to show our bibs and then were handed our medal, still in the plastic wrap. It was a little anti-climactic; there’s something about crossing the finish line and having a volunteer hang your medal over you head. It’s usually a very emotional moment. This process was void of emotion…

…so my husband and I made our own emotion. I unwrapped the one in my hand and hung it around my husband’s neck. I told him that I was so proud of him for all of his training and thanked him for helping me push through The Suck out on the course. He unwrapped mine and hung it around my neck, telling me he was more proud of me than I was of him—because we’re nothing if not competitive. We kissed. Even now I’m choking up thinking about the hours we put in, together and apart, to train for this race; how he agreed to run it with me as a present to me. I am so loved by and in love with him. So, no, it wasn’t your typical “get your race medal” experience, but we made it a special moment and I will remember it for the rest of my life.

Then we stopped a nice woman to take our picture. She laughed and said, “Goodness, you two are so photogenic.” I kind of wanted to kiss her with my sweat crusted face, but I figured she meant him more than me. Yep. She did. He’s so handsome.


We then made the easy and quick walk back to our hotel, showered, changed, and checked out of our hotel. The Double Tree gives you a parking voucher for their garage if you stay, so that was a nice little bonus to our weekend! We had no problems driving from our hotel to my parents’ as the course had opened back up (we checked out AT noon). We parked on Gay Street, walked to their hotel to get everyone, and then walked back to the Plantain Cafe for lunch. I ate a giant plate of fish tacos while everyone else ate amazing burrito bowls.

Then we packed up, got out of the city with absolutely no problem or road closure issue, picked up the dog, and were home by 3:00. We didn’t make the boys’ soccer game, but LittleBrother actually fell asleep on the way home. If you think about their weekend, they had more exercise than any soccer game ever, so it’s not really a loss on their part.

The question after a race is always, “Would you run it again?” Yes. Always yes with Columbus. Any confusion or unfortunate timing of things can’t overshadow the amazing event, the cause of raising money for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the patient champions at every mile, the amazing course, and the AMAZING spectators. Even in the midst of the confusion, the social media team was active on their various channels, reassuring everyone that they would get their medal and celebrating people’s PRs and first time finishes. I love this team, this amazing race, and I will definitely be back again.

Today I’m not too bad off. I woke up with tight hips and achy knees, but already went on a one mile recovery shakeout run (8:53/pace!) and feel 100% better. I plan on stretching at various points in time today to continue to work the kinks out of my muscles. My husband and I have three weeks (or, rather, two weeks and six days) until the Pittsburgh EQT 10 Miler. We’re both in great shape thanks to this race, so we just need to maintain that until November 9th!

Thank you, Columbus, for another great race.


8 replies on “Race Recap: The Columbus Half Marathon Weekend, Including the Highlights Kids’ Run”

oh jenna, i am so happy for you and your husband. such an accomplishment for your both!
(and honestly, reading the recap…it feels almost if the medal mixup was just for you two so that you could be the person to hang the medal around the others neck. so much more personal, so loving.)
congratulations to you both!

That sounded like such a great weekend and way to go on your PR! What a great accomplishment that you got to share with your husband, and he did fantastic for his first half too!

Way to go! Your description of giving each other your medals has me all teary eyed at the office! I’m so proud of you and you inspire me to think that maybe, just maybe, one day I too could run a half!

I love this so much! Love that you got to run with your hubby, love your (to me) super-fast time, and love how honest you are about miles 10-12. I had a similar experience when I ran/walked my half and seriously thought I would never again. Maybe it is like childbirth and you just forget the pain after a while, because I’m starting to want to do it again now.

Finally getting caught up! And maybe getting all teary-eyed at my desk over you and the love of your life having the time of your life together. So proud of you guys!

And not sure what I’m laughing over more – BB in the early pics, or your really fast boobs. Epic for sure!!

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