The Real Cost of a Spring Marathon

Last Fall (2015), I broke down what your registration fee pays for. In preparation for this upcoming Spring season, I thought I’d break down what it really costs you to run a marathon (or any race) by sharing with you what I spent training for GCM 2016.

The first cost to consider is the registration fee. The Mercy Health Glass City Marathon registration fees start at $70.

The second is going to be your running shoes. Depending on what kind of runner you are, you’re probably going to need at the very least 2 pairs of shoes for training (because of all the miles). A lot of non-runners think that this is all you need…if they only knew. My Nike LunarGlides cost approximately $125 each, so $250 total.

Next will be your training plan. There are free plans on the internet. Or you can purchase a book. You can also hire a coach or join a training program. This year I signed up for Dave’s Marathon in Training Program at $125.

You’ll have to learn some way to track your mileage and training time. If you live where there are easily marked courses/roads, that’s awesome and you can probably get away with your standard stopwatch. But if you want to know how far you’ve gone and your current/average pace, you’ll probably want a GPS watch. This year I upgraded my outdated Nike+ Sportwatch GPS to a Garmin Forerunner 230 at $250.

I also prefer to run with a little background music. Thankfully my old iPod Shuffle is still alive and kicking, but due to rain/sweat/use I replace my headphones approximately every two months. Estimated at least two pairs for the training period at $15 each, so $30.

I also use some energy fuel during my long runs. Currently I am using PROBAR Bolt Chews. They come in a box on 12 packs; each pack contains 2 servings. At an estimated $30 per box and approximately 2 boxes to get me thru my training period, total cost should be $60.

I didn’t buy any new clothing during this training period, so that amount was $0.

Obviously it’s winter in Ohio. The weather isn’t always conducive to training outdoors. Last year, I joined Planet Fitness ($21.50/month) because they have the best treadmills in town; honestly, if the treadmill isn’t good, it’s going to make it even harder to get through your workout. For January-April, total cost was $86.

If you do any additional cross-training, such as Yoga, Pure Barre, or CrossFit (I do all 3), your monthly fees will also creep into your total cost. Yoga at approximately $65/month, Pure Barre currently at $149/month, and CrossFit at $100/month. For January-April, total cost was $1256.

Previously, I’ve used massages as a last resort when it comes to body maintenance; I relied on foam rolling (which I own), and a lacrosse ball (less than $5). As a Christmas present to myself, I purchased a membership to Massage Envy and worked a massage into my training schedule every 3-4 weeks. This costs approximately $90/session (90 minutes), and an estimated 5 massages to include a post-race recovery massage brings the total to $450.

Other considerations are tune-up races built into your training schedule. In the Spring I think there were maybe 2-3 races, running a total cost of less than $150.

The last costly venture of running a race is actual race weekend costs.

  • Spending at the Expo. I encourage budgeting to limit your spending. I think after all was said and done, I walked out with a $10 Nike Hat.
  • Parking (Expo and Race Day). For GCM this was FREE, but other races (hello Chicago and Detroit), parking was pricey.
  • Transportation. See above. Not an issue for GCM because it was local. But for big city races, and especially races that require you to travel (by land or air), transportation can be a cost factor.
  • Hotel. For any race requiring more than a 30 minute drive in the AM, a hotel can be nice to cut down on your time in the morning. But this comes with a cost.
  • Food. Most runners enjoy a pre-race meal, often coming in the form of a meal out. Mine is Chipotle for lunch and Sushi for dinner! This usually runs me anywhere from $30-40.

Total cost of Race Weekend was approximately $50.

Using my 2016 expenses for my own Spring Race listed above, to race this Spring it cost approximately $2777.

Obviously if I was on a tighter budget, I would forgo spending money on a new training plan (if I knew my previous training methods worked for me), not purchase a new watch or other equipment unless absolutely necessary, reduce the number of memberships I have, cut down on my massages (unless necessary, which for some people they are), participate in free tune-up races when possible, and stay local to reduce race weekend costs. This tighter budget still includes race registration fees, running shoes, energy fuels, one gym membership, massages and my local race weekend spending and has a total cost slightly under $1000.

Question: What items are including in your racing/training budget? Are there things you have to have and things that you can forgo to cut costs?


2016 Running in Review

After a Spring full of being a race ambassador, I took a step back from my blogging life and focused on living life. But I’m back (at least for this post)!

2016 Summary of Events:

  • 1564 Total Number of Miles Ran (As of 12/5)
  • 3 – Full Marathons (April, May, October)
  • 1 – Half Marathon (September)
  • 4- 5Ks (January, March, June, August, November)
  • 1 – 5 Miler (May)
  • 1 – Steel Challenge (May)
  • 1 – GORUCK Heavy (Detroit-June)


  • I paced my first race!
  • Starting off the year with two 5Ks in 12 hours! (Midnight Special and Hangover Classic) This is by far my favorite tradition.
  • Setting a Marathon PR (finally); Glass City Half Marathon in April.
  • Breaking 40 Minutes for the 5 Miler.

Next up, a link up. Last year I participated in Courtney’s Year of Running Link Up, so this year I decided to do it again.

year of running 2016

  • Best race experience: I raced less this year than last year, but I raced longer distances this year. I loved Detroit despite my lackluster performance, but my overall favorite race of 2016 was Pittsburgh Marathon because mentally I was all in and that made the biggest difference.
  • Best run: This fall I coached with Dave’s Running MIT and I loved our Wednesday Night Tempo runs and so many of our long runs were just too much fun.
  • Best new piece of running gear: I rediscovered running in shorts. Hands down my favorite are Lululemon’s Hotty Hot (Long) Shorts.
  • Best running advice you’ve received this year: I’ve received a lot of advice this year and most of it from some faster runners that I’ve had the privilege of running with this year. .
  • Most inspirational runner: This year I watched “Unbroken” and “Race.” As an alumni of THE Ohio State University, I’ve always admired Jesse Owens. In addition, I think in modern times we often overlook how much the athletes and runners before us had to go through to make it where they did.
  • Favorite picture from a run or race this year: This picture was from pacing the Boy Scout Half Marathon in September.

    bs2016We were approaching the finish line and both of these lovely ladies were headed towards a PR.

  • Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat: Coming out of the Detroit-Windsor tunnel returning to the US!
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be? Exhausting. Humbling. Reminding. This year I ran 3 full marathons. I was reminded how much training for 26.2 demands of you; not just time, but also effort, energy and attention. I had my ass handed to me twice during races. I learned that I entertainingly have a tendency to over-train and not allow myself adequate time for recovery.

Don’t forget to check out Courtney’s link up, and join if you are so inclined!

How was your 2016 Year of Running? (Be sure to respond in the comments!)







HUFF 50K: Lessons Learned

Since the HUFF 50K was my first ultramarathon, I knew that it would be a great learning experience. With that being said, here are some of the lessons I learned.

Stop when you need to. Often in road races, we push through because it’s probably only a mile or two until we can get what we need. In trail running, if you need to use the restroom you better stop because there might not be another one for 4-8 miles. Same if you need to stop to eat or stretch.

Do Trial Runs. Yes, I meant to say trial not trail runs. Test out your race outfit, preferably on a trail with similar weather conditions at your race pace. Learn if your hydration bite valve will freeze and how to thaw it out. Find out before race day if your gel, chew or bar will freeze and become impossible to chew. Learn what modifications to do with things happen. If the weather gets colder do I have to replace my either outfit or just my socks; if it gets warmer what is the first layer I take off?

It’s Okay to have Music, but it’s probably best to leave one ear bud out. Going into this I read repeatedly that you don’t listen to music on trails because they are narrow, people need to pass and because of safety reasons. While all of that is true, I was surprised to see the number of runners bust out their headphones as we approached the start line. I was thankful I had packed mine just in case (because I train with music), but I left one headphone out. Music doesn’t take away from the beauty of running trails, you’ll still see and experience it, but it was nice when I passed the mile 15 marker to have a great jam to rock out to as I headed in towards the finish.

If you bring it with you, Take it with you. When you’re out in mother nature, you don’t litter. If you have trash, you dispose of it properly. After the second manned aid station, I was surprised to see the runner-related trash on the ground in the coming miles. I started to stop and pick it up but really it was too much. Sometimes we might accidentally drop a wrapper, but remember that this isn’t a road race that has a clean-up crew to pick-up those gel packs.

Plan for the Weather. You’ll be dressed to run for hours, but don’t forget to check the forecast and be prepared. If there’s a chance of rain, pack a poncho or rain jacket. If it’s supposed to be hot, you might want to change out of sweaty clothes if you plan on running after the sun goes down. I wore layers and ended up taking off my Buff and Gloves after mile 2 to avoid overheating and sweating. But I carried my gloves for the remainder of the race because they helped warm me up quickly when I got cold in the shade or wind conditions.

Pack Accordingly. If it’s summer, you might want to include some bug spray or sunscreen (to reapply due to sweat). If there’s a chance you’ll run when it is darker, you’ll want to pack a headlamp (and batteries).

Don’t be afraid to Walk.  Especially on trails, the hills can steep. There is no shame in walking them because it saves your legs for the rest of the course.

Watch your Step. In road races, we look ahead; keep our eyes on the horizon. If you do that (and I did) on a trail run, you’ll probably trip over a root hidden under the leaves. And on downhills, you don’t want to roll an ankle.

Eat and Drink Early and Often. Also known as the Eat-Drink-Repeat plan. This concept is still hard to grasp after finishing my first ultra. In a road race, I’m intaking about 100 calories every 45 minutes and grabbing sips of water every two miles. It’s similar to how I train as well. But during a trail run, your body is doing much more work and needs the extra fuel and hydration.

Plan your Fuel and Hydration. Similar to the tip above and below. Know at which mile or time marker that you will consume your goods, or what and how much you will consume at an aid station.

Remember to replenish your supplies. I ran out of water at mile 25. I barely downed half a liter during my last 20 mile training run, and here I am out of water. Well at least I was hydrating through out the race. But unfortunately the next aid station was unmanned and it had run dry, so I was without until the finish. It was a scary place to be for 6 miles. But I was thankful that I had brought my own water and was able to drink when I needed to during those first 25 miles, instead of only relying on aid stations for hydration.

There is no right-way. I’ve read a few bloggers who take that a hydration pack is unnecessary for a 50K, but I saw plenty of runners out there with them (myself included). Some runners relied solely on the aid stations and others were completely self-sustaining. Then there was a mix that did both. Because I train with a full hydration pack, I didn’t feel that there was any extra weight to carry during the race.

Lastly, Rest and Recover. Make sure you have a detailed plan for how you will recover. Includes making sure you refuel your body, and rehydrate as well as when you will do body maintenance. I included some simple stretching and foam rolling, plus wore my ProCompression socks. I scheduled yoga daily after my race, and knew when I would take my first recovery run. But most importantly was my hydration plan especially in the first few days.

NOTE: Keep in mind that that every race is different, and many factors will change based on the season in which the race is run. So try to learn the special considerations to the conditions you will encounter.

Question: What was the biggest lesson you learned from your first big race?
Comment below!

Thanks for reading!







HUFF 50K: Packing List

For my first attempt at an ultramarathon my biggest concern after training was what to pack. There are some runners out there who are advocates of the “don’t-carry-anything” philosophy, while others have a “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” mentality. I tried to find a happy medium. Thankfully, I have multiple GORUCK events under my belt, and while not an ultramarathon, it did give me a better concept of what I might need for a multiple hour endurance event.

There were no drop bag locations for this race, but gear check was available at mile 15.6 (start/finish area). There were also aid stations at Mile 4, 8 and 15; again at the start/finish. The race was projected to be below freezing temperatures, but dry. My strategy was to go in with the plan of being self-sustaining, but utilize the aid stations if needed.

Let’s first start with what I wore. The temperature at the start was 27 degrees Fahrenheit with 14 mph winds and partly cloudy. Although the mid-morning was supposed to bring sunny skies, there was no expectation that it would bring even the slightest increase in temperature. I had tested out my race outfit on Thursday but with slightly warmer temps (36 degrees) and a bit faster than race pace.

Next I carried my Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 5 Set Pack with 1.5L Hydration Bladder. Inside I had:

  • 1.5L of Water
  • Darn Tough Micro-Crew Socks
    • I packed these just in case I got too warm and wanted to make the switch mid-loop.
  • Peppermint Candies and Stride Gum
  • 6 Clif Bars (2 each of Peanut Toffee Buzz, Sierra Trail Mix, Nuts & Seeds)
    • Estimated 1 every 50-60 minutes
  • 10 SaltStick Caps
    • I didn’t train with these, but I normally use the Clif Bloks with extra sodium.
  • Extra Safety Pins
  • Aquaphor Travel Tube
  • Kleenex Tissues (in a ziploc bag)
  • Hand Sanitizer

Huff Finish Pack

Above is my finishing pack…Addie not included. I also wore my original Spibelt to carry my phone and a course map (and my iPod Shuffle with headphones).

For Gear Check, I brought my GR1.

  • Nike LunarGlide 6 (Water Resistant)
  • Hoka ONE ONE Challenger
  • Duct Tape
  • 2 Pairs of Darn Tough Micro-Crew Socks
  • 1 Pair of Smartwool PhD Crew Socks
  • Nike Hyperwarm Tights
  • Nike Miler Long Sleeve
  • 2 Pairs of Gloves
  • Columbia Windbreaker/Rain Jacket
  • Lululemon Race Pace 1/2 Zip
  • Lululemon Swiftly Tech Tank
  • Sea to Summit Bag containing:
    • Pink OSU Fleece Hat
    • Nike Running Headband
    • BUFF
  • 2 Clif Bars
  • Baby Powder
  • Body Glide
  • IBU

Gear Check Spread

I packed the second set of clothes because I wanted to have a change in case I got wet (from weather or sweat). Everything else packed was just in case I decided to pack a pit stop between loops.

I packed my Hydration Pack with the anticipation that I would not be stopping at the Gear Check between loops (like a bag drop situation). But I did stop between loops to drop off some gear I was carrying that I no longer needed. This included the spare pair of socks (because the course wasn’t wet and I didn’t anticipate changing them during the second loop), the frozen Clif Bars (I kept one just in case), the hand sanitizer and the salt caps (I kept 3).

First Loop Loses

Since this was a winter race, I didn’t need bug spray or sunscreen.  I also didn’t plan on being out past sunset so I didn’t bring my headlamp.

Future suggestions would be for an easily identifiable bag for gear check. Taking a black bag in a sea of black bags doesn’t make it easy to find. I did see some individuals bring larger duffel bags, as well as camp chairs and blankets. Some runners did gear check clear plastic containers which made it easy to find items between loops instead of digging around a bag.

On the course I saw plenty of runners who were self-sustaining with their own fuel and hydration. I also so plenty of runners carrying just one water bottle duct taped to their hands who relied on the aid stations. There really is no right-way to pack for an ultramarathon (unless the ultra has a specific gear list, but that’s a different kind of race), I learned through the training process, that I need to wear and pack what I am comfortable with. I’ll cover more of my “Lessons Learned” next.

Question: What Is One Piece Of Gear You Must Carry With You During A Race?
Comment below please!

Thanks for reading,


Post-Race Gear Necessities

I’ve discussed post-race gear sparingly in the past. I mentioned in To Crew or Not to Crew having your “crew” carrying your gear, but never what gear. In my Race Day Preparations series, I barely mention your post-race bag in Race Day. But in 1 Week Out, I mention that (back in 2014) I had never checked a bag. I do discuss that my post-race bag usually contains “everything I may want immediately after the race, like a change of pants, a clean shirt, possibly a sweat shirt, maybe some socks, flip flops and sometimes a gatorade or a snack.”

After my last Columbus Half Marathon, I thought I should discuss exactly what needs to be in your post-race bag, regardless of whether you utilize gear check or not. I stayed so close to the start line, I was able to hear the music begin at 6:15am, but I still checked a bag. I planned on spending a few extra minutes in the post-race area, so I knew I would want warmer clothes long before I had a chance to return to my accommodations.

For THE Ohio State 4 Miler, I knew that because of the weather, I would be shedding my layers to wear again after the race. I needed a bag (and gear check) to make this happen without having to make multiple trips to and from the car.

First, we need to start with the bag. Many races these days only allow clear plastic bags to be check and usually hand these out at the expo. If the race doesn’t require a specific bag for gear check, think of finding your bag at the airport. Also, make sure that the bag closes securely and is easy to carry. Attach your gear tag and make sure it is secure in case your bag will be transported, you don’t want it falling off. Learn any special requirements of your race’s gear check, for security reasons some frown on “regular” bags being placed inside of the required clear plastic bags.


So we have a bag, now what goes in it? Anything you might want immediately after the race. Or anything you might want before you return to either your car, your house, or find your fans! Everyone is a bit different, so your list of necessities might look a little different from mine.

  • Clothes. Ideally, a complete change of clothes to include underwear, but at the bare minimum a new shirt and a pair of pants. I prefer loose-fitting clothing options. For colder-weather races, I always pack a stocking cap, gloves, and an extra layer(s) of clothing, such as a sweatshirt and sweatpants. Even if you don’t plan on staying around long, consider how long it will take for you to get back to your car, public transportation, or accommodations.
  • Footwear. I like sandals to allow my feet to breathe. For colder-weather races, I’ll bring a change of socks, probably thicker than my races socks, and shoes. Regardless, make sure your footwear is comfortable.
  • ID/Money/Wallet. They advise not to leave anything valuable in your checked gear back, so I normally carry an ID, one credit card, and some cash in case of an emergency.
  • Phone. (See the above comment…same thing applies).
  • Medication. It might be safer to carry on you; if it’s a prescription you may need. You don’t want to risk certain items falling out of your bag. Also, keep in mind that the First Aid stations typically will have Advil/Ibuprofen and Tylenol/Acetaminophen.
  • Chapstick/Vaseline. Or Biofreeze; any First Aid supplies to help in speeding recovery of chapped, chaffed or sore areas. Just as with your OTC medications, some of these items will be available at First Aid Stations.
  • Mylar Blanket. Ever run a cold-weather race and NOT receive a Mylar blanket when you crossed? It’s a quick way to warm you up before you get a chance to change your wet clothes for your dry warm ones. Besides it packs small enough to fit in a ziploc snack bag and it’s great just in case.
  • Baby Wipes. If you’re a salty (or smelly) sweater and don’t have any expectations of showering in the near future, a quick “bath” might be preferred. A small towel is also a good substitute.
  • Deodorant. (See above).
  • Sunscreen. If you plan on enjoying the post-race festivities, you might want to plan on reapplying.
  • Snacks. I like to throw in a snack with protein (Luna Bar, ThinkThin, or LaraBar). If you’re picky about your post-race snacks, make sure you pack what you like. Not every race will always offer the same “standard” fare. This is especially important if you have special diet restrictions.
  • Hydration. Similar to the snacks. If you prefer a certain sports drink or electrolyte-replacement, pack it.
  • Plastic Bag. If your race doesn’t require you to use a large, clear bag for gear check, I keep ones from previous races to hold my sweaty dirty clothes after I change out of them.
  • Other. Do you wear compression socks and will you need to put them on immediately after the race?

As I mentioned in my 1 Week Out post, pack your bag the night before, just as you do with your race outfit and race gear. Before your nerves set in or before you’re in a rush and likely to forget something. Most races have an organized system in place, that make storing your bag safe and easy to locate when you return to claim it, so it’s one less thing you need to worry about come race day.

Don’t forget to know if there is a deadline to check your gear bag. This is often the case in point-to-point races where they utilize trucks to move your bags from the starting area to the finishers area. I have seen runners racing with their gear bags because they didn’t drop off their bags before the moving trucks left for their journey.

Keep in mind that you can also throw items in your gear bag that you need pre-race. At Disney, I tossed in the layers I was wearing before the race (similar to the 4 Miler) that I wanted to wear again, as well as the water bottle I used for my pre-race hydration. Many runners did something similar, because of the travel time getting to the start line.

Lastly, remember gear check is completely optional. I’ve raced quite a few without gear check; I’ve even raced a few where my crew (my mommy) didn’t have a post-race bag for me.

Question: What do you put in your gear bag?

As always, thanks for reading!




Planning for the HUFF 50K

I ran my first Half Marathon on a dare. I ran my first Full Marathon to celebrate my 26th Birthday. While in Dublin, Ireland, this March, I decided to celebrate turning 31 by running my first 50K. I had heard great things about the HUFF 50K (and saw their sweet swag), and decided to take the plunge. There were a few other 50Ks in my region, but they just didn’t fit with my schedule. As with many race websites, trying to figure out what you need to know can be tricky with the massive amount of information presented. So I thought to celebrate being 50 days away from my first 50K, I would summarize it for you.

This year’s Hoosier Ultra Frigid Fifty 50K will be held on Saturday, December 19th, 2015. The race offers three Events: individual 50K, One-Loop Run, 3 Person 50K Relay. The race moved four years ago to a new Location: Chain O’ Lakes State Park in Albion, Indiana.

 Registration is currently OPEN. Closes at 11:59PM on Wednesday, December 16th. Current Pricing for the individual 50K is $85 (increases to $90 on November 1); the one-loop run is $40 (increases to $45 on November 1) and the 3 Person 50K Relay is $180 (increases to $195 on November 30).

Packet Pick-up is Friday, December 18th from 5:30pm until 8:00pm at Kountry Kitchen Restaurant, 901 North Orange Street (Highway 9), Albion, IN 46701. A Pasta Dinner is also held at the Kountry Kitchen Restaurant on Friday evening.

The closest Lodging (besides staying at the campgrounds) is the Brick Ark Inn just 5 miles north of the State Park. If you’re driving South on I-69 from Michigan, I would highly recommend the Best Western Western in Kendallville, IN. Other lodging ideas can be found on the VEEP Races website here. Camping is available at the Chain O’ Lakes State Park with comfort station #1  for race weekend.

Beginning at 7:30am, Race Day Packet Pick-up will be at the Main Tent at Sand Lake at Chain O’ Lakes State Park. In your race packet will be a pair of hand and toe warmers. Entry into the State Park is included in registration, so you won’t have to obtain a parking pass or pay at the gate on race day.

There are 2 paved parking lots near the campgrounds available for Race Day Parking. After entering the State Park, you will drive past the turn off for Sand Lake to access the parking lots. The Sand Lake lot is kept available on race day for emergency personnel, service vehicles and the safety of runners at the Start/Finish Area. A pathway will be lit with glow sticks guiding participants to the Main Tent from these parking lots.

At 8am, the one-loop race and relay begin; the Start Time for the 50K is 8:15am.

Gear Check is at the Main Tent; the 50K will pass the Main Tent during the race, so this can be used as a Bag Drop. The Main Tent is heated and lit with changing cabanas for after the race. 

The Course starts at Sand Lake with two separate loops. All Start and Finish lines are in the Sand Lake Lot. There is a 10.43 mile loop for the Relay, and a 15.6 mile loop for the 50K. The Course Map also notes where the aid stations are located. The race has donated money to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to construct a bridge over a potential wet area. There were some modifications to the course to improve flow and easy navigation. Previous race reports noted that the first three miles are slightly crowded but then it thins out.

There will be three staffed Aid Stations stocked with water, sport drink, hot chocolate, coffee, flat Coke, chips, pretzels, bananas, PB&J sandwiches, M&Ms, and a variety of refreshments. As well as an aid station at the Start/Finish Tent and one unmanned aid station. There will also be chocolate turtles at the Nature Center and hamburgers at the Birdland station.

After crossing the Finish Line, all participants will receive a HeatSheet blanket. Belt buckle medals are also presented to all individual 50K and 50K Relay finishers; One-loop finishers will receive a medal.  Showers are also made available after the race at the Chain O’ Lakes campgrounds, east of the finish area.

From previous race reports, the Weather tends to be dry for race day, but often the trails are wet from the previous week’s weather.

I’m not sure when you receive the coveted HUFF 50K race Swag. I know at packet pick-up you receive your tech tee and sometimes some other goodies, but I’m not sure when you get the coveted beanies.

I could not find the following details: Runner Tracking, Field Size, Course Time Limits, Transfer Policy. I do know that the race is chip timed. For additional questions, I would suggest contacting the Race Director, Mitch Harper,

With the trails being approximately wide enough for a golf cart or gator, Spectator Spots are limited. Suggestions for spectators would be the aid stations.

Since this is a 50K, there are mixed Training philosophies. Some suggest training as you would for a marathon, while others suggest training as you would for a longer ultra marathon. I started my search at Ultra Marathon Running, which led me to both the UltraLadies 50K Training Plan and to Hal Koerner’s Field Guide (which had better reviews than Byron Powell’s Relentless Forward Progress). I am using a blend along with CrossFit Endurance.

Since this race is held in the Midwest in December. Safety is a concern. The trails could be snow or ice-covered, or even wet and muddy. Special attention to footing is always a requirement of trail running. Not to mention the chance of cold temperatures presents a hypothermia risk. It is highly suggested that runners pack at least dry socks to change. Also wearing cold weather gear and layering along with a hat (or head cover) and gloves to preserve heat. Another tip to prevent hypothermia is to stay hydrated to help regulate your body temperature and eat plenty of food for fuel to keep you warm. Check out my blog for more Winter Running Safety Tips.

For more details or post-race photos, check out HUFF 50K’s Facebook page.

If you’d like to read a few race reports, Joe at Run with Perseverance is a Marathon Maniac who has run the HUFF 50K multiple times. I would highly suggest reading his recaps from 2013 and 2014. Amanda at Too Tall Fritz described her first HUFF 50K in 2014.  Also, check out Carolyn from Addicted 2 Running’s 2014 recap. And if that’s not enough, head over to Bibrave.

Hope to see you out there!



What You Need To Know About The 2015 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon

When the Columbus Marathon won Salty Running’s March Madness Greatest Marathon (that isn’t NYC, CHI or BOS) Tournament, Salty herself emailed me to ask me why I think the Columbus Marathon is the best marathon. I tried to keep my response limited but I had trouble. Salty thankfully included all 334 words I sent her, but I thought a follow-up blog would be the best way to celebrate the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon.

First, my personal history with the Columbus Marathon. My first half marathon was in 2009 at Columbus. I believe that crossing the finish line is was truly jump started my love affair with running. My first full marathon was the Cincinnati Flying Pig, but my second full marathon was 2.5 years later at the Columbus Marathon. (Yes it really took me that long to recover and run my second full!) To date I’ve run 6 full marathons (twice at the Columbus Marathon) and 13 half marathons (3 were at the Columbus Marathon). My current marathon PR is from the 2013 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon.

Second, a disclaimer. I am no way an expert at this race. The information provided below is gathered from the Columbus Marathon website and my own personal experiences and opinions on this race. I am not an ambassador (although I wish…someday!) or affiliated with the race in any way, other than being a huge fan.

Exactly 6 months before Race Day, here is what I think you need to know about the Columbus Marathon for 2015 to include some of my favorite features of the race.

  • Registration:
    Registration is by and opens early in January, giving runners 10 months to register. In previous years, both the marathon and the half marathon have sold out weeks before race day. The field is capped at 7,000 Marathoners and 12,000 Half Marathoners. I think that the pricing is reasonable for what the race offers.
  • Training:
    The Columbus Marathon introduced me to runcoach. I’m forever thankful because runcoach really has been the best training program I’ve used. If you sign up for runcoach during registration, the fee is $20, and after registration it is $25. This is a huge discount on the services that runcoach offers. Two years ago, they offered a discounted rate following the Columbus Marathon to continue utilizing their training services. The Columbus Marathon webpage also has suggestions for local running groups .
  • Transfer Policy:
    Participants can transfer races up to August 31st as long as the desired event hasn’t sold out. There is a $15 transfer fee to switch races plus the difference if upgrading, and no refund if downgrading. Transfer of race entry to another person is allowed until August 31st and there is a $25 transfer fee. There is no refunds, no deferrals, and no waiting list; these rules are no different from any other race I’ve run. Columbus Marathon also allows you to change your shirt size and estimated finishing time before August 31st.
  • Expo and Packet Pickup:
    The Expo is open on Friday 12pm-7pm and Saturday 9am-6pm. There is no race day packet pick-up. The Expo is held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. For 2015, the Expo will be in the Battelle Grand Ballroom, which is located at the south end of the Convention Center near the Hyatt Regency. If you’re going on Friday, there is plenty of parking in the Convention Center lot, on the street or in one of the Arena District parking garages. If you’re planning on attending on Saturday, keep in mind that The Ohio State University will be hosting a home football game, so traffic in and around the city can be difficult and near the Expo are plenty of game watching locations so parking may be hard.
    Next to WDW Marathon, this is the best Expo I’ve attended (although P&G hands out tons of free samples at the Flying Pig). Second Sole is usually front and center selling everything you could every want that says Columbus Marathon, but if you have your heart set on something, then get there at noon on Friday to guarantee it in your size. Yes, I’ve been there when doors opened the last two years! If you’re from out-of-town, any race gear you might have forgotten will be on sale at the expo, which I can’t say for some other races I’ve run. Not only that, but you’ll have plenty of options from the various vendors. Let’s not forget to mention all of the representatives from other races there with discount codes!
    You will need an ID to pick up your packet. Packet pick-up is arranged by last name so you don’t have to worry about remembering your bib number. With your packet, you’ll receive your bib (with BibTag tracking chip), the Columbus Marathon race guide, your t-shirt, the gear check clear bag labeled with your bib number, and plenty of coupons (there’s usually a free burrito from Chipotle!).
  • Pace Team:
    While at the Expo, meet your Pace Team Leader if you’ve signed up for a Pace Team. I suggest signing up because Clif will send you an awesome care package. If you’re interested in a cool fact, Race Director Darris Blackford is the Clif Bar Pace Team’s founder; He paced the 4:00 marathon group at WDW this year!
  • Weather:
    The thing about October races are they start out cold and warm up quick. Except for Columbus last year! Typically, the start is before sunrise, but runners have a few miles to shed clothes that will be collected and donated. The majority of the course isn’t shaded, so if it’s sunny you will stay warm. I’ve seen plenty of runners over dress for this race (including myself in 2009). I always stalk the weather report and dress for the weather at 8am or 9am and where disposable layers over it.
  • Runner Tracking:
    The Columbus Marathon utilizes RTRT-Real Time Race Tracking for its runner tracking service. Some other services are confusing when registering and I’m not certain if I just agreed to have someone else’s race that I’m tracking posted on my personal social media. This, however, is not the case with RTRT; their instructions are clear and simple and easy. RTRT also offers an app for tracking your runner, but I have yet to use it because their text message updates keep me informed when I’m not running and their social media updates keep my friends and family informed when I am.
  • Race Day Parking:
    I used to park near Nationwide Arena for an easy exit following the race. They used to also sell parking passes, unfortunately that practice is no longer continued. I highly suggest deciding which direction you will be entering downtown from and compare it to the course map, because nothing is worse than being blocked by road closures.
  • Course:
    The 2015 Course Maps have not be published yet. In previous years, the race has started near the state capital building, but last year it was changed to North Bank Park. The course still ran past the Ohio Statehouse, down Broad Street, through Bexley, added running past Nationwide Children’s Hospital (my favorite addition!), through German Village, up High Street, through the Short North, around Campus, into Upper Arlington and Grandview before turning into Victorian Village and eventually the Arena District. Last year they also changed the finish line from Nationwide Blvd to North Bank Park. This isn’t that different because it’s only one street over (you can see the old finish line from the new finish line!).
    The past few years the course has allowed runners to run through  Ohio Stadium. Unfortunately, this has been changed for the 2015 course. I’m not sure what other changes are in store this year.
  • Course Time Limits:
    As soon as the last athlete crosses the start line around 8am, half marathon participants will have until 11:30am (3.5 hours) until the course closes. I don’t think this is a change from previous years, however, the full marathon participants will now have until 2pm (6 hours) until the course closes.
  • Hydration and Fuel:
    There are 17 hydration stations on the Columbus Marathon course offering Gatorade and water. As you enter the hydration station the Gatorade is at the first tables in Gatorade cups and the water is at the last tables in White Castle white cups. The hydration stations are always less than 2 miles apart. Clif Shots are offered at mile 8.5 and mile 17.5. There are restrooms behind every hydration station.
  • Safety:
    Columbus takes safety seriously. Only race participants are allowed in the starting and finishing areas. All bags carried around the course are subject to inspection.
    Another aspect is participant health, I can’t remember a year when crossing the finish line where a first responder hasn’t asked me directly if I needed medical attention. I assume they ask everyone, or I might have just looked that bad. Compared to other races I’ve run, this race has a surplus of responders.
    As for the actual course, you do run on some brick paved roads which can cause trip and slip (if wet) hazards. I can’t remember bad road conditions in the first half of the marathon, but in the second half I do remember some construction and pot holes leaving Grandview heading into Victorian Village. I think most of that has been repaired, but as with any road course be on the look out. Also, though the course is closed to traffic, still keep a look out for vehicles when the course crosses the roads. As with any race, even though the roads are blocked off, when runners aren’t present they will be directing cars to cross.
  • Gear Check:
    With the start and finish line in the same location, Gear Check is a breeze. Most races are really strict about the clear Gear Check bags, Columbus is no exception. I’ve never need to use Gear Check at Columbus, so this is probably one area of the race that I can’t comment on.
  • Runner’s Starting Area:
    This is an athlete only area. When some races switched I wasn’t a fan because that meant being disconnected from my spectator (typically my mom). It eliminated last minute changes. Eventually I saw the light and realized that these areas are great. Mainly it eliminates the extra crowds and gives runners more space to warm up and stretch. With less crowds means shorter lines for the bathrooms, which there are plenty of. Last year they added heaters in the start area as well which was nice for the extra cold morning.
  • Start Line and Corrals:
    Until August 31st you can update your estimated finishing time (and corral) online, but after you’ll have to email registration. If it’s less than one week out, any changes will be done at the Expo. I’ve run Columbus before there was a staggered start of the corrals and before corrals were really enforced. The changes have only improved the quality of the race. The corrals aren’t over crowded (so they actually serve their purpose) and the staggered starts are too close together or too far apart. This makes for an even transition at the start line.
    Corrals open at 5:45am and the race starts at 7:30am. I prefer to get there an hour ahead of time to enjoy the festivities. I really wish they would publish their playlist because it rocks!
  • Patient Champions:
    The Patient Champions are Nationwide Children’s Hospital patients who have been selected to share their stories to inspire the participants of the Columbus Marathon. Each Champion sponsors a different mile. You get to meet each Patient Champion throughout the course. If the Champions weren’t inspiration enough, each mile gets decorated with a theme they selected. If you’d like to go one step further, you can become a Children’s Champion and fundraise for Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Become a Children’s Champion here.
    There are other Charities that sponsor teams that run the Columbus Marathon.
  • Spectators and Course Entertainment:
    As I said to Salty, the RD and staff do an incredible job hosting this race, however, without the spectators this race wouldn’t be what it is today. In all of the races that I have run, I’ve never seen so many people out on a course. The farthest apart I’ve seen spectators is maybe 100 yards, most likely less. If you ever want to watch the Columbus Marathon there is not a bad spot to do it from.
    If the spectators weren’t enough, there’s almost 100 bands, DJs and other entertainment along the course. Some of my favorites include the cheerleading teams and the drumline.
  • Finish Line:
    As you head into the finish, you’ll hear cheers from the stands and fans next to the finish line. Even with the new finish line, there’s a nice decline. At this point in the race, your adrenaline is pumping and the downhill helps give you a little bit of a kick.
    After crossing and receiving your medal and mylar blanket, there are granola bars, pretzels, chips, yogurt, bananas and chocolate milk to help you refuel. Depending on when you finish, there can be some congestion in this area, but they’ve really opened up the finishing chute to allow for a good flow.
  • T-Shirts and Medals:
    My favorite race T-shirts and medals are from Columbus. I feel like they get more colorful and bigger each year. In 2009, it was a white ribbon and a tiny triangle for a medal. In 2010, DB took over. The medals definitely got cooler and the races started to have themes which made the t-shirts better and each race more memorable.
  • Celebration Village:
    This is where you eat, drink and be merry! Reunite with your friends and family, visit the various vendors, or shop for finisher gear at Second Sole. Don’t forget to hit the PR Gong before you leave!

If you’re traveling to Columbus for the race, and are looking for non-race activities to fill your weekend, you can find travel and visitor information here .

If I left anything out, feel free to ask me. Or you can always check out the Columbus Marathon website, their FAQ page, their Blog page, or email your questions.

Also, if you haven’t already checked out my Race Day Preparation blogs, you can find them here. If that’s not enough, the Columbus Marathon has “26 Tips for 26.2 Miles.”

Good Luck and Happy Racing!