My 2011 Columbus Marathon Weekend Report!

My weekend began on Friday night after work at the Spirit Award Reception that I was fortunate to attend with nine other well-deserving individuals. I also picked up my race packet, which unfortunately did not include much more than the race shirt, but I was too excited about the reception to care!

I attended the reception with my Dad, my husband Michael, Dave (who nominated me), and his friend Chad. Both Dave and Chad are first-time Marathoners as of this Sunday! Congratulations to you both!
Dave, Me, Michael and my Dad
There were cocktails, o’devours and an inspiring speech from the race director, Darris Blackford and a video about the marathon. The 2011 Nationwide Insurance Columbus Marathon featured a record, sold-out field of 17,000 athletes and after hearing Darris and watching the video, I was really getting excited for the event!
The Spirit Winners were introduced to the crowd, along with a short bio. I also got to meet several of the other winners including Jack McClain, who was leading a family of runners – his son, grandson and granddaughter. This was Jack’s 30th Columbus Marathon this year and he is 90 years old! According to Running USA, only eight other men in the world have ever completed a marathon at 90 years or older. Jack has run more than 45 marathons in several states. I hope to still be here when I am that old, not to mention running marathons! It was a fantastic evening and one that I am proud to have been a part of. 
Me and my Dad with my award.
You may never see me in a skirt again!
My award and purple flowers from the office!

Saturday I spent the day relaxing, getting my gear ready and clothing ready and continuing the battle against the cold that started on Tuesday. I spent the evening napping and was up almost all night Saturday and into Sunday morning with horrible stomach issues. Not how I planned to start my race morning! I knew when alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. after about 1 hour and 45 minutes of sleep that I was in trouble – and my stomach was still cramping.

Still, I was excited for the race and the Lucky 13’s and made it to the MIT meeting spot around 6:00 a.m. fully dressed and having remembered everything I needed. I choked down a banana and some frosted mini-wheats and it hit my stomach like a rock. I knew the race was going to be ugly for me, but not for the rest of the group.

They were all sporting anxious and excited smiles by the time I got there: 

The Lucky 13’s Ready to Race!
Duane, Judi (it was her birthday!) and Me
Me and the Birthday Gal
Me and my sister Mollie.

After a whirlwind of pictures and final preparations, we were off with the rest of MIT to the start line. Believe me; you don’t miss over 700 runners and walkers parading to the staring corrals together – just one of the things I love about training with MIT! The race-day logistics are all pre-planned and all you have to do is show up on time at the meeting spot and follow the crowd! I don’t think I would know how to get to the start of a race on my own! 😉

We made it to the corrals as [mostly] a group. I got separated for a minute – from everyone, which was scary – but we all made it together. Except for Keri, who we couldn’t find, but were screaming for her in a crowd of 17,000 people. It’s no surprise she didn’t find us until we started. The cannon sounded at 7:30, but we actually didn’t start until several minutes later. Until then, it looked something like this:

Ready to run?!
The start of the race went well for me. We set out a little under 13:00 minutes, a relief to me that Judi was successful (I knew she would be!) in not starting out too fast. I knew this race would be tough due to stomach issues already so I slowed down after the first mile to a 13:45 or so. I watched the Lucky 13’s pull out ahead of me and mentally tried to prepare myself for the miles to come.
That looked something like this:

Pretty hot close-up, right? I’m thinking, “Who is that close to me snapping a picture?!” Imagine my complete and utter surprise when this is what I saw:


Yes, folks, that would be our fearless leader running right along side of us, bringing smiles (and maybe tears?!) to young and old alike! It sure put a big smile on my face and reminded me above all else – HAVE FUN! 

Miles 3-6 there’s really not much to tell. I battled stomach issues, stopped to use the Porto-John a couple of times and tried to focus on running from one water stop to the next. I still felt like I had a rock in the pit of my stomach. There was not much I could do about it except try to finish the race, no matter how long it took.
I knew I had to at least make it to Mile 8 where my Dad would be waiting with more fuel. I knew seeing him would give me the motivation I needed to finish.
What I was not expecting was for Keri to find me before I found him. She was also struggling with the dreaded cold and cough and was taking it slow like me. I was beyond thrilled to have one of my best running buddies with me!
Me and Keri coming into Mile 8.
Smiling for Dad!

Seeing my dad gave me the confidence boost I needed. There was no way I wouldn’t meet him at the finish line. Keri and I continued on our way, slowly, but surely. We ran – and walked – most of the miles together, talking and laughing as we went. We also walked right by Jack McClain (90 year-old Spirit Award Winner mentioned above) who shook my hand and told me to keep up the great work. Talk about inspiring! He looked fantastic too. Mr. McClain finished the marathon in 7:12:37. Hats off to you, sir!
The last mile was uphill and very hard. I wanted to stop, but Keri kept me going. I couldn’t imagine going past the finish half turnoff to 26.2. Not today. I wouldn’t have finished without Keri by my side that is for sure.
Here we are coming in for the home stretch:

The finish line shoot and Celebration Village was packed. We got out of the way and made it to the MIT tent where my dad, husband, Mollie, Duane and the rest of the Lucky 13’s were waiting. It was a victorious celebration – swapping race stories, taking pictures, and taking advantage of post-race ice baths and massages (Thank you MIT!). So many of the 13’s PR’d – I have never been more proud of a specific group of runners. Congratulations to each and every one of you!

Me and my sister Mollie at the MIT tent.
Here are two ladies that I spent some time getting to know this season, Kelley and Nita. Both are first-time half marathoners and it was a privilege getting to run with them and watch them grow from week to week. Superb job, ladies! I hope to run with you both again, soon. 
Kelley, Me, Duane and Nita
My results, although my Garmin said differently (about 10 minutes faster!):

Per my Daily Mile recap, which I wrote soon after the event:

This wasn’t the best race for me running-wise, but I had so much fun! Half Marathon #7 done! A little slow and painful due to stomach issues, but I wouldn’t have finished without my Lucky 13’s and the fabulous and funny Keri, who met up with me at about Mile 7 and we finished together!! Thank you to my Dad who was a Mile 8 to cheer us on with water and Gatorade. It was also great to see my husband at the Finish Line – thank you for being there, honey! 🙂

CONGRATULATIONS TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU WHO RAN COLUMBUS TODAY! I am so happy and proud of you all and so thankful to have you all in my life. Thank you to everyone who cheered me on, called me name and told me not to give up today. It was a tough race, but I did it and I am happy about that! Another great season of MIT – thank you for all you do to keep us happy, healthy and prepared to run! I’m already looking forward to next season!!

 Until the next mile marker,


  1. Congrats Sara! Sounds like a wonderful day. That pic of the home stretch brings back memories. I was so thankful for the downhill but afraid I’d fall at the same time!

  2. runningperseverance says

    Thank you for sharing your race recap with us Sara! You are so positive and strong. You pushed through a lot during the race and had fun along the way! I loved reading this! Congrats to everyone that you raced with…it sounds like it was a great day for many! and congrats again on the well-deserved award!!

  3. Wait, that was Jeff in the monkey suit? Amazing!

  4. Christina Patterson says

    Congrats on your award, Sara!

  5. Christina Patterson says

    Ah, that sent before I was done typing.

    Congrats on your award, Sara! You look lovely in your skirt. 🙂 You are rocking the 13.1 distance. Your next race is the Goofy?

  6. Niki Miller says

    Great Job!! You are such an inspiration! 7 Half Marathons is incredible!! I love reading your blog, it keeps me going, and makes me want to join MIT and be able to run with such an amazing group of people.

    Congratulations! You deserve it!

  7. Congrats on your award! And great job on the half!! Ha! Sasquatch! That is funnny.

  8. Laurie Bilovesky says

    Somehow I never saw Jeff in that costume but the pictures have been cracking me up! Congratulations on the award! Totally worth it! The friend I always walk with stayed home because she felt like you did. I hope you are recovering well!

  9. Stephanie Grigely says

    Nice work!! You are so inspirational, great job!

  10. Kimberly Turner Bouldin says

    Fantastic recap, Sara! I am sorry that you weren’t feeling well! I have run a race like that (Cleveland marathon) and it sucked. 🙁 Congrats again on the award. You are an amazing woman & I am so glad that I have gotten to know you through MIT, daily mile & facebook.

    ((HUGS)) & love!


  11. RunningMandy says

    Great recap! Congratulations again on the spirit award! You look very happy in the post race photos, never would have guessed you had a tough race! Congrats on another one in the books!

  12. Suzanne Westenhofer says

    Congratulations on a great race and an amazing award!

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