Location, distance, theme and swag — each factor makes a race unique. The OSU 4-miler took me by surprise in every category, and I can honestly say it is the best race I have completed to date.
First of all, location. Our starting line was just outside of Ohio Stadium, on a crisp fall morning in Columbus. Awesome, right? Even more awesome was the finish line, which was right on the 50 yard line of the Horseshoe. That's right, Kyle and I ran "Across the Field" to end our race.
The distance of 4 miles had me skeptical at first. Why not a 5K or 5 miles? Who knows. All I know is that the course took us on a scenic tour of campus, and time seemed to fly by, despite the fact that my phone died right before the race, leaving me without music. Four miles ended up being the perfect distance to make me feel accomplished, yet still able to enjoy the celebration when it was over.
The theme, obviously, centered around a love for all things Ohio State Buckeyes. Former football and basketball players raced alongside us, high-fived us on the field, and led us in "Quick Cals" at the start of each corral. Names included Bobby Carpenter, Anthony Schlegel, Scoonie Penn, Dimitrious Stanley, JJ Sullinger, Ryan Miller and more!
Brutus and the OSU cheerleaders cheered us on at the starting line, and we saw members of The Best Damn Band In The Land running in their uniform hats. (They have to be in shape to march in those amazing halftime shows, right?)
Swag included OSU bags, custom bibs and long-sleeved tech tees. Plus, our sweet medals shaped life the Horseshoe.
Put it all together, and you have an runner fan's perfect day.
Kyle and I both had a blast, and we vowed to run it again. This was the first year for the race, but it set a record for being the largest inaugural race in Ohio history with 10,000 participants. Of course, we bet they'll have another. I told Kyle from the beginning this race was genius, because putting Buckeyes on anything makes it sell. He agreed. He said if they had "Buckeye prostate exams" people would line up out the door. (Maybe I should send this to the director of marketing at OSU Medical Center, ha!)
I also made the race memorable for myself. A few weeks ago, I realized I could be right around the 100 pound weight loss mark on race day. A funny T-shirt idea came to mind, and that was that. I got a lot of compliments from people before, during and after the race. I almost chickened out and left it at home, but I'm glad I chose to use the occasion to celebrate all that I've accomplished.
Plus, I got to mock Michigan. Win-win, right?
I also feel like I enjoyed this race more than any other, because I decided not to run for speed and instead pace Kyle. He did such a great job! A few months ago, he basically said he was done running after he finished his first 5K. But after training for and running this race, he's not ready to stop. I am so, so happy to have him by my side for our fitness journey. Next year, I hope we can do some more races together. He's got his sights set on a Spartan race, but we'll see what the wind blows our way.
Though I was really annoyed with my phone for shutting off before the start, it was a blessing in disguise. Without music, I was more aware of my surroundings and felt more present while running. I truly enjoyed my run the entire way, and I can't say that very often! I felt like I was smiling the entire time, and when we ran down the ramp to enter the stadium, I started dancing my way to the finish. It was the perfect ending to the perfect race!