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The Hometown Favorite: NCH Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon

This Sunday morning, The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon will kick off at North Bank Park. The race is not only the largest marathon in Ohio but also one of the fastest and most competitive courses the mid-west offers. Live music and familiar streets lined with cheering crowds create an electric atmosphere, making it a hometown favorite race for CRC Elite members. Here we asked our team to share how training with teammates in their hometown shaped big goals for Sunday’s race.

Brooke Benner

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Last year was my first year running the Columbus marathon and I had a lot of fun running at home and with friends that I knew I’d race again this year. However, for most of the spring I wasn’t sure whether I’d race the half or the full. I struggled with recovery after running two marathons in 2015 and felt myself sink into a running funk. But my CRC teammates were there to pick me up! Listening to their goals and training plans inspired me to return to regular training and take another shot at my marathon goals.
In my training for the Columbus Marathon I’ve done most of my running in the morning as I recently started graduate school. I typically wake up at 5:00AM to run before heading to school for the day. Occasionally I’ll split my daily mileage and run a second run in the evening. My favorite workouts were long runs with marathon pace segments and long intervals at marathon pace. Most of my hardest workouts were on double workout days. Finding the energy after a morning workout and full day of class/lab was tough! One of my goals is to use the nutrition regimen I’ve practiced during training. As silly as a goal it may seem, it’s one I hope to finally accomplish in my fourth marathon. I also have the goal to set a personal best! This has been my strongest training cycle so I think this goal is achievable.
The teams biggest impact in preparation for the race has been their support and inspiration. I can always count on someone to run a long run, easy run or workout! It’s not always easy for me to stay motivated and knowing that my teammates are up early putting in the work with me helps keep my drive going. I remember traveling with the team to Chicago last spring to race and returning home with big goals for training and fall racing. Our conversations about training and goals as a team was exactly what I needed to gear up for summer racing and training in preparation for the Columbus marathon. One of my favorite parts about being part of the store team is seeing the growth of so many of my teammates/friends through the time I’ve been a team member. They motivate me to set higher goals and they’re faces I look forward to seeing on the weekends for a run and the morning of race day!
Jessica Hoover

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I’ve been a spectator at the Columbus Marathon several times.  I can remember coming as a little girl to watch my mom run the marathon and getting hot chocolate in the North Market with my grandparents to stay warm before heading to the next mile marker to see her.  She is the reason I started running and it’s really fun to finally be able to step on the starting line myself and feel some of that marathon morning magic! I’m honored and excited to wear the CRC jersey across my chest and test myself in an extremely accomplished field of runners!
My training has incorporated some longer workouts and increased my long run bit by bit every Sunday.  I’ve also done quite a bit more work at half marathon goal pace! A lot of the workouts have been slower than what I’ve been used to in college, but longer to prepare me for this race. I’m up at 5:30 & out the door by 5:45am! I love the feeling of getting in a solid workout before work and before the rest of the world is awake.  My favorite workouts are when I’m out at the Grandview Track before the sun comes up and just start to get into a rhythm. I love visualizing being in a race in the middle of 3 mile or 2 mile repeats. I also really like to finish off my workouts with something faster – a quick 800 or a couple 400s to really get the legs moving and prepared for the end of a race.
Since it’s my first half marathon, I don’t have a specific time goal, but I’m excited to mix it up with some of the other elite women! I think it’s really special to be a part of something that’s so connected to your hometown.  Running through the streets of Columbus, passing people I’ve grown up around…I’m just excited to experience that electric feeling on marathon morning.
I think there are a lot of big adjustments after graduation – moving, working, and living without the daily structure of college classes and practices are things that can be difficult at first.  The store team has provided me with support and a group of people I can lean on. I can count on them to get me through long runs on early Sunday mornings and encourage me on those days when running just isn’t easy.  It’s been a great feeling to be a part of something that’s positive and growing. I wouldn’t be where I am without CRC!
Cory Irwin

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This is my 4th year running the half at the Columbus Marathon. A typical day is 6-10 miles with strength training 2-4 times per week. I enjoy hard long runs with closing the last miles at or near race pace. My goal is just to run hard and have fun, sub 71 would be cool.
The race directors do a phenomenal job coordinating and executing the Columbus Marathon. Plus it runs past my front door, hard not to participate! It is extremely fun to be surrounded by friends and familiar faces all enjoying the sport. The store team has allowed me to train and race with awesome people and given all of us the opportunity to reach our goals.
Kelsey McAlpine

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My goal for this race is to be confident with my training from the start.  Knowing this is a much longer race than I am used to, my goal is to stay calm when the gun goes off and to be strong mentally when the race begins to get tougher. The only change in my training was having long runs with 6 plus miles of tempo pace instead of just running an easy long run.  Those runs were definitely not something I was used to, but now I kind of like them.
A typical training day for me consists of running around 7am or 8am in the morning.  So I get up at least an hour beforehand to eat a little bit of food and drink coffee.  Usually my runs have ranged between 5 and 14 miles. 2-3 days out of the week I would do harder workouts, whether that be on the track or fartlek/tempos on the bike path.  Sundays are usually my long run days and the other days are for recovery, which is in my opinion one of the most important parts of training. My favorite/hardest workout I did was 8 x 800m on the track.  I had never done more than 5 x800m before, so I was excited to tackle this workout and do something I’d never done before.
This race means a lot to me because I grew up in Columbus and have always been a spectator of the race, so now I am finally taking a part in an event that brings so many people together.  The energy of the crowds amongst the streets of Columbus is unreal and something that I am excited to experience.
CRC has honestly been such a great support system for me and my running goals.  They are an amazing team of such talented, hard-working individuals who all balance full-time work and running.  I love being a part of a team with runners who have the same passion and goals. I know a lot of us are racing this weekend, so we have all been training for this very moment together.  CRC has helped me stay motivated even when life gets difficult. I can’t wait to represent CRC on the course this weekend for all that they do for myself and the rest of our squad!
Sakiko Minagawa

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This is my first time running the Columbus Half marathon. I wanted to run the Columbus Half Marathon because after I was done competing collegiately, I wanted a goal and a challenge to keep running. My goal for this race is to have fun! I want to be competitive and hope to run under 1:20.
Training for the half marathon did not change my training that much in terms of mileage, but I did not do as many speed workouts but instead focused on quality long runs. My typical training consists of an off day, a track workout/easy run double, easy day, medium long and long runs. My favorite workout has been an 8 mile tempo and my hardest workout has been 7 x 1000s.
Running this race in my hometown means a lot to me. Running at Sells Middle School, to Scioto High School, then to Ohio State University, and now as a CRC Elite, I would not be where I am now without all the people I have had the opportunity to meet as I grew up here in Columbus. It is a reminder to myself of all the people who had helped me fall in love with running.  Being on the CRC Elite team and being around a group of men and women with similar goals and work ethics, helped me stay motivated to train for this half marathon. Getting together for Sunday long runs and helping each other get through the long mileage was something I really appreciated. Being part of the CRC Elite, I was be to receive some very helpful advice from those that had previously run this race.
Christina Murphy

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This isn’t my first time in the CBus half but I’m really looking forward to it! I have stuck with a less structured training plan this go around to work around a busy work schedule and some mild injury struggles. My Saturday runs were anywhere from 14-18mi usually done at a medium effort and I threw in a few tempo and track workouts over the last month to round things out. My favorite runs are always he progressive style longer runs, it feels good to go a bit longer and finish fast! Track workouts are always tougher for me and last month was the first time I’ve been on a track in over a year so I had to knock some rust off.
My biggest goal is just to enjoy getting back into racing, this will be my first race since February and only my second race this year. I would like to be under 1:17:00 but will be happy to finish strong and healthy. Running Columbus is always an easy decision, it’s one of my very favorites and I couldn’t think of a better training goal for this fall. I love that it’s our hometown because of all of the familiar faces and familiar neighborhoods. Having this be the location of our team is a bonus too because it’s a great opportunity to represent the team that does so much to support us and is always a nice opportunity to run with a ton of teammates.
Em Odle

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This will be my first half-marathon that I ever trained for and raced! The timing fit; coming off an injury from my 5th year track season and I thought it would be a cool experience to have my debut half-marathon that I moved to after college, started my first “big-girl” job, and where I ran for the first time as a post-collegiate/ CRC Elite team member.  So that along with racing with my CRC teammates in my new city is an invaluable experience. I admire and support the amazing work that Nationwide Children’s Hospital does for children so it is an honor to race in support of their mission in tackling some of the most dire health conditions, illnesses that kids can face.
I have never trained to race a half marathon so this buildup has been focused on getting in long runs around 15 -16 miles and longer tempos of 6 – 7 miles. A typical training is waking up at 5:20 a.m. in hopes of getting out the door by 5:40/5:45 a.m. to run with Elite team member or join my boyfriend, Pat, for those early, dark morning runs. I try to incorporate core and stretching x3-4 a week. My favorite workouts are progression long runs. They’re incredibly hard but the runner’s high that I feel after those workouts empower me to get out the door. I love long running on hilly dirt/crushed gravel roads. My goal is to break 80:00!
The store team has been so great to me. From team runs on Sunday mornings to the sweet gear that I get to race in – the team has made my transition to a new city smoother and honestly, more fun!
Evan Schwartz

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I ran the half in 2014 and the full in 2015! If you’re thinking about running your first half/full Columbus is definitely the place to do it! We are very fortunate to have such a great race so close to us. I wanted to run a fast fall race and staying local is a huge plus. Being able to run familiar streets and see people you know throughout is a major advantage. To me it means the comfort of knowing where you’re at on the course. It means seeing familiar faces throughout the race. It means less travel and more time focused on the task at hand. Also the CRC after party may or may not be a motivating factor.
In my training, a normal easy run day I’ll wake up at 5:30am and run with some friends for anywhere between 8 to 14 miles in the morning. Then it’s off to work at 10am or 12pm. I work until 6pm or 8pm depending on the day, then do another shorter run of 4 to 6 miles. Workout days are the same work schedule, just with a quality session in the morning and an easy run again after work. Mileage on workout days is usually between 16 to 22 miles in total.
I would like to run faster than my PR of 68:40 and get as close to 67:00 as possible. Other than that my goal is to always just enjoy the race experience and opportunity to compete. The store team has helped me in so many ways! The 6am morning runs in the dark, the track workouts, Sunday long runs. The store team is vital to producing an environment conducive to training hard.
Jack Schlabig

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I ran Columbus last year and it’s a great course. I want to see how much I’ve improved in the last year and this is a great race to find out. I love it because I run near or on the course everyday. Plus I know many people who are running the race or cheering from the sideline.

Typically Monday through Friday I’m up at 5:30 am, out the door at 6:00 for a run of 6-8 miles. Then I have a second run at 5:30 pm, either another 7-9 miles or a workout. On Saturday I run easy for 8-9 miles, and on Sundays I do a long run of 17-18. My hardest workout was when I did a 3-2-1 (miles) @ 15:10, 10:20, 4:51. My goal is to run sub 1:09:00.

The best thing the store team has done is brought like minded people who are all chasing their dreams and trying to become the best runners they can be together. It’s nice having people to run and do workouts with. Running can be a lonely sport so having a team makes a big difference.
Logan Wells

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This is my first time running the Columbus Half. My Dad ran the full here last year and I helped pace him the second half. The atmosphere was amazing, and I knew as soon as he finished that I wanted to come back again this year and run it myself.
I wouldn’t say I have altered my training so much as gone back to what has worked well in the past.  My focus this fall has been much more on the aerobic side of things as I’ve built strength with a lot of tempos and long runs.My typical training week consists of 3 “quality” days. I’ll usually do some sort of interval training on Tuesday–anything from 400 repeats to 2×3 miles @ faster than half-marathon pace. Friday I will do a longer tempo of anywhere between 5 and 8 miles. I use my long run as my third workout of the week, usually trying to cut down over the last half.
I’ve yet to run a half-marathon that I’m fully pleased with, but I think I’ve set myself up well this time around. I always go win with an A, B, and C goal depending on if I have a great day, a good day, or an okay day. If I have a good day I think I can run sub-71. The key is going to be getting out there, staying focused every mile of the race, and being ready to hurt in the last few miles.
Laura Wetz

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Ths will be my fourth time running the Columbus Marathon and it is always one of my favorites because it is so nice to run through all the different parts of downtown Columbus and seeing so many people that I know cheering for me along the course. The energy and excitement throughout the course never disappoints and I also love how the Columbus Marathon is partnered with the Nationwide Children’s Hospital and helps so many children and their families. Seeing the young patients and families out on the course at each mile marker really elevates the emotions and meaning of the race for me.
This training cycle has not been the smoothest one as I faced some medical challenges that interrupted my training half way through the season. The fear and insecurity of the safety of my running really affected my competitive mindset and at times I felt like quitting all together. However, the support and guidance that my coach and all my team members/friends at CRC had given me through this uncertain time helped me push forward. I truly believe that if it weren’t for them, I would not be racing this weekend. Being part of the team has also been so much fun. My favorite memories have been during races where there was a group of us running together and then celebrating our achievements afterwards. I’m looking forward to this weekend where there will be many of us representing CRC on the streets of Columbus!
Dustin Whitehair

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I haven’t ran a marathon since 2012 Columbus and want to try for another great effort. However I’ve ran either the Full or the Half since 2006 right after I graduated. I didn’t run in 2009 due to injury, but Columbus Half/Full has always been one of my favorite races during my favorite times of the year. My first goal is low 2:30’s, second is mid 2:30’s or 6:00 pace, third is to just break 2:40.
Weekdays are very busy due to work and during the Summer/Fall when I coach XC. But it helps now that I telework from home on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so I can get in a few miles and make those my double days. I have gotten my high mileage back and feel comfortable after being banged up on and off with minor injuries over the last 2 1/2 years. My favorite workouts have to be 8 x 1 mile repeats starting at Marathon pace and going down each 1 after 1 minute rest and 4 x 2 mile at half pace with 1/2 jog or full recovery. The hard workouts and long runs on weekends have been helpful since we have met as a team on Sunday Mornings.

We’re excited to cheer our team on as they race the streets of Columbus this Sunday! After the race, join the CRC Elite team celebrate their race at the legendary CRC Post Marathon Party!

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