Matt McCoy, author of the 610WTVN.com sports blog, shares his experience as a returning participant in this year’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon:
Back in 1988 when I was much younger and more athletic, I ran the Columbus Marathon. It is still the one and only time I’ve run the full 26.2 miles. It was a fantastic experience but unfortunately my running days were short-lived. Shin splits and back issues took me off the road and onto the couch for more than two decades.
A few years back, as a father of two kids, and at the urging of my wife, I decided it was time to live a more healthy lifestyle. I started exercising every day, mixing aerobic work with strength training and got myself in decent shape.
In the spring of 2012, my daughter signed up for a half-mile run in Gahanna. I helped her get ready by doing short jogs with her and found myself enjoying being on the road. It inspired me to start running again, which I did for about two weeks. That’s when the old back issues started again.
Rather than give up on it, I turned to something my back and shins could handle…walking. So I added two to three walks per week to my exercise routine. To give myself something to shoot for, I made a goal to return to the Columbus Marathon. This time as a walker, and doing the half.
The experience last year was so enjoyable, my new goal became to make it a yearly event so Sunday, I walked the 13.1 miles for a second year in a row.
With 20,000 people doing the Columbus Marathon or Half-Marathon, it’s obviously an event that continues to grow in popularity and once you experience it, you know why. Any physical pain involved is overcome by the thousands who line the streets. The countless bands playing music, the volunteers at water stations, the people on hand to cheer on loved ones and/or strangers make each step that much easier.
The other athletes are equally inspiring. I saw runners and walkers who were doing the race in remembrance of a lost loved one…some were on the course to raise awareness to a particular cause…each mile is dedicated to patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital…I saw firefighters, in full gear, on the course…and runners with shirts indicating they were cancer survivors. Awesome.
There are also those who deliver inspiration through humor. It’s bit blurry because I was walking, but the shirt below made me chuckle at mile four.
I also saw a shirt which read “Stopping at 26.2 miles or when the Browns make the playoffs…whichever comes first.” The supporters who lined the streets kept the mood light as well, like the sign in Bexley that said “Look alive…mortuary ahead.” There were also plenty of “Kick Asphalt” and “You’re running better than the Government” signs.
My personal favorite signs though were the two below…made by my daughter Ana and my son Jonathan.
I guess the message here is, if you’re like I was a few years ago, and looking for a reason to get off the couch, circle the Columbus Marathon as a goal. It’s for runners and walkers of all skill levels, from the exceptionals to the beginners. Best of all, however is every runner or walker has their own story.
It took me 2 hours 54 minutes and 59 seconds to walk my 13.1 miles…and I enjoyed every step and every second…and I’ll be back next year.
This post originally ran on Matt McCoy’s Sports Blog on 610 WTVN.