2011: A Year to Remember

I’ve been reading everyone’s posts recapping 2011. It seems like the thing to do with the New Year only two days away.  It’s inspiring to read back over your victories, races, accomplishments, challenges, struggles and goals – especially the joyful times. Last year on this day, I wrote my own recap and it was happy. My mother started running in 2010 and I said then that she [Mom] has once again reminded me that no matter what you think stands in your way – it doesn’t – you can still accomplish your dreams if you put your heart into it.

Mom and I finishing her first 5K in August 2010.
 I closed with this:
As I lace up my shoes, zip up my jacket and head out the door this afternoon for my last run of 2010, I have a lot to be thankful for. A lot to be grateful for. And a lot to look forward to. I hope you do too. My sincere wish for each of you is that you have a happy and safe New Year, and I can’t wait to see where the new year takes us. I’m already looking forward to reading your blogs. Happy New Year from us.

It’s funny how everything changed on April 21, a short four months later. 2011 was horrible. There’s not really much I wish to remember. In all honesty, I wish I could just forget. My life changed forever a little after 2:00 p.m. on that day when the local police called to tell me there had been an accident and my mother was being taken to the hospital. What I didn’t know until I got there was that she had passed away. I can’t ever change that. 2011 ripped my one of the people who loved me the most right out of my life without even a chance to say goodbye. The last time I saw her? After a six and a half mile run the Saturday before and we went to breakfast with our friend Wendy. The details of that morning? They’re fading faster. The last thing she texted to me I’m going out for a four mile run! Love you, angel!The last thing I said to her? I don’t remember.

Sure, there were some memorable times in 2011. Even some happier times, but everything is overshadowed by how much I miss her and how lonely I am sometimes without her by my side. So many questions, so many things left undone. Not unsaid, my mother knew how much I loved her, just undone.
We ran Cap City, the race she had been training for, in her honor:
Cap City Memory Bib we wore.


The Lucky 13’s getting ready for the race.


Mollie & Me after the race.


Julie finishing the Cap City 1/4 wearing Mom’s Bib #.

I ran Pittsburgh, my first full marathon, with the unexpected help of my dear friends:

After the Pittsburgh Marathon.


My friends drove all the way to PA to surprise me on the course – AND RUN WITH ME!

I kept running even though I wanted to quit:

Westerville Rotary Fourth of July 5K.


Me & Mollie on the Fourth of July.


Running in the rain.


2011 Race Club. I’m in there somewhere.


Me & Mollie after the Columbus Half.


Mollie & Me at the Veterans 5K.

I continued coaching the Lucky 13’s with MIT.

I was honored to receive the Spirit Award from the Columbus Marathon in October:

My friend who nominated me Dave, Me, Michael & Dad.

We carried on the family Thanksgiving Day Tradition:

I know there are good things on the horizon for 2012.

Continued reporting for Pace Per Mile Radio:


Representing FitFluential as an Ambassador to inspire others to achieve their health and fitness dreams:

Pace Coaching, of course:

And my biggest challenge, happening soon, The Goofy:

Spending time with the ones I love. I’m not taking them for granted.

And more blogging, you blogland friends, have been with me through the darkest time in my life. Your support, love, encouragement, sympathy, understanding and friendship has not gone unnoticed.

But, I also know 2012 won’t even be the same. Every joy is laced with sadness too at all that is left undone. Opportunities lost. Death is so final. You can’t demand a redo. I never knew what that felt like before this year.

So, for as much as I wish I could forget, I will remember. For my mother. Because she would never want me to forget that I love running – and so did she.

My wish for you all? A joyful New Year filled with love, happiness, friendship and good health.

Until the next mile marker,

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,

Exciting News – This One’s For You, Mom!

This year, I will be running my third Nationwide Insurance Columbus Half Marathon with MIT, the Lucky 13’s and about 17,000 runners from my hometown and across the globe. For the fifth year in a row, the marathon and half marathon have sold out. Ladies and gentleman, if you haven’t made it to Columbus yet to run this race, what are you waiting for? Get ready to register for 2012 and make your plans now – after all, you already have a tour guide here!

Don’t miss it!

I like this race for several reasons and I will continue running it as long as I can. One of my favorite things about it is that is takes place in a big city, but has a hometown feel to it. And not just because it is my hometown. The streets of Columbus, jam-packed with a flood of runners on race day, are also lined with spectators through some of the most interesting neighborhoods and districts the city has to offer. I definitely do not get bored on this course because there is always something to see on a brilliant tour the best parts of Columbus including Downtown, Bexley, Olde Town East, German Village, Short North, Ohio State, Upper Arlington, Grandview Heights, Victorian Village and the Arena District. The course is flat (not to mention fast!) and offers a chance for many runners obtain a PR.

I also like the Columbus Marathon because I don’t feel like I need to be a professional athlete to run it. I feel welcome by the race directors, volunteers and course support stuff, not to mention the entire city. I feel like whether you are the winner of the whole race or the last person to cross the finish line, you are important.

The Columbus Marathon team does a fantastic job of recognizing individuals who are running the race that are not your “typical” athlete, but have overcome sometimes devastating obstacles to be able to participate. Every year, the Nationwide Columbus Marathon recognizes these race participants by presenting them with the Spirit Award.

Per the marathon website, “The Spirit Award honors those people who have not only taken on the challenge of completing a marathon or 1/2 marathon, but who have overcome considerable obstacles while doing so. Throughout the years the marathon has witnessed runners and walkers who train while overcoming major illness or who use the marathon as part of a lifestyle change to accomplish significant weight loss, among other odds.”

Much to my surprise, I was nominated and selected for the Spirit Award by a running friend that I met through Daily Mile not too long ago – Dave.  He said he was touched by my story and what my mother’s passing and suggested that the race directors check out this blog. Dave was given the opportunity to share the news with me first and I couldn’t believe it when he called me – I was completely ecstatic!  I’ve had to keep quiet ever since last week! 🙂

Me & Dave at the Emerald City Quarter in September.

I am completely honored and humbled to be recognized along with nine other Spirit Award recipients who are running in the Columbus Marathon or Half Marathon on October 16th.

Not only am I touched to receive this award, but by the kindness and thoughtfulness Dave has extended to me and my family. You see, I barely knew Dave at all. We communicated mostly via Daily Mile and Twitter, offering support and encouragement to one another as fellow runners. I have only met him once, even though we live in the same area and attend a lot of the same races. Dave is running Columbus – his first full! – and has been battling injuries this training season, which I can relate to. This is exactly why I have come to love and treasure the relationships I have formed in the running community. Dave could have easily nominated himself given his circumstances or any other runner he knows, but he chose me because he wanted more people to know about mine and my mother’s story. For that, I am very grateful to you, Dave and the Columbus Marathon.

Dave said something to me on the phone, when he announced my nomination, that has stuck with me ever since. We were talking about my mother and how much she loved to run and how running brought us closer together as a family. Dave knows I have been struggling with running – and with life in general – these past few months, but has always offered a kind or encouraging word to me, despite his own struggle. Sometimes, it hurts to run because I think about my mother and how much I miss her. I told Dave that she passed away completely happy, doing what she loved – running. Dave said, “You will always have that. No one can take that away from you. Every time you’re running, it is just you and your mom out there together, and you will always have that time with her.” I was in tears, literally, but was trying to keep it together on the phone! It wasn’t until later I realized, Dave is right.

My mother and I will always have running. It brings people together, and she will forever be a part of me, both as a person and as a runner. This one’s for you, Mom.

Until the next mile marker,