As we get ready to celebrate the 15th year of the Cap City Half Marathon on April 28, I think it is important to look back at the history of the race. And what better way to do that than by asking someone who has run every single one of them.
Fortunately for me, I work with one such person. Jeff Baldwin, the vice president of franchising and development at Donatos Pizza, has completed every Cap City Half Marathon dating back to the first one in 2004. And what is amazing about Jeff is his consistency. He finished the very first one in 1:48:25 (which is still his fastest finish) at age 32 and 13 races later finished the 2017 race (pictured at left) in 1:50:26 at age 45.
I decided to ask Jeff about his history with the Cap City Half Marathon and running in general and included some questions from my social media followers who had also chimed in. This is what I found out:
Was there something specific that made you decide to start running? “I started running after college when I started working and needed that release. I tend to daydream when I run longer distances and it seems to give me a break from day to day. Running gives me time to reflect on things going on in my life now, which is kind of cool since that was never the intent.”
Why did you sign up for the first Cap City Half Marathon in 2004? He’s pictured at the right in the inaugural race in 2004. “It was called the ‘Commit to Be Fit’ race, so it was perfect for me at the time. I didn’t have enough drive to stay fit and I wasn’t playing any other sports.”
What kept you coming back each year? “I joked with an attorney friend that it was a verbal contract to run the race every year with a sub 2-hour finish, so the joke has just kept going all these years! Twice, I have been so close to two hours I felt like I could pass out trying to finish strong. Those memories make me train a bit harder as I get older! I also joke with my girls that I try to stay in shape so I can keep up with their kids someday. They just laugh!”
At what point did you realize you had a streak going and is that streak important to you? “It only dawned on me a few years ago when I realized how different the pre-race atmosphere was than back in the first year. Music and local celebrities are everywhere. There are so many runners now and it has turned into a huge event. It’s very cool to have been part of it from the beginning.”
Which year was your favorite race and why? “I think 2009 was the first year my older kids were there to cheer and actually understood what was going on. I stopped to give my wife and kids a kiss. Today, they understand the value of health and fitness and watching Dad has been a small part of that.”
Which year was your least favorite race and why? “The second year in 2005 when the race was in early April and it was 32 degrees with driving sleet. I wore a hat very low and had to look down the entire race. It was really tough running conditions which I think helped move the event later in April and even sometimes the first week of May. I also had a bad IT band issue one year. Running injured is never fun.”
What kind of training do you do each year to get ready for the race? “I play ice hockey and tennis and normally run 10-15 miles per week throughout the year. Starting in January and February, I will start to build to 20-25 miles per week with a few races over 10 miles. I concentrate on pace and also speed training. When I run distance, I wear a watch so I don’t have a set route and I don’t have to stop!”
If you could change one thing about the race, what would it be? “I wouldn’t change much really. There have been several race routes over the years – some good and some too tight for the volume of runners. It was fun to run to OSU and around The Horseshoe several years back. The most recent route is fair and interesting, but nobody likes the uphill climb from German Village to downtown near miles 11 and 12.” (Note: Jeff and everyone else will be thrilled to run on the new and improved course in 2018.)
What makes the Cap City Half Marathon so special that you do it every year? “I enjoy the fact that this is something I have done for so many years, longer than jobs, age of my kids etc. Knowing it’s on the horizon keeps me honest the balance of the year with training and exercise. There have been a few near misses such as a daughter was born April 7 and a couple of weddings out of state near May 1, but none have disrupted race day.”
I can’t wait to see how Jeff does in 2018. If you want to join Jeff and I at this year’s race, make sure to register now. Use code 18VOCDAVE at checkout to save $10.