Cleveland Marathon Recap Race Recap
The race was 2 weeks ago! I figured I should get my recap done now, because I have had plenty of time to reflect, and I also don’t want to forget anything…
1. I CAN’T BELIEVE I RAN A MARATHON
2. Before it was over, I knew I would do it again.
3. There were things I would change, it was not easy, and I fully admit to crying at Mile 24.
4. OMG, really?! I ran a marathon!
I traveled to Cleveland from Columbus on Friday morning. BF and I both got a long weekend off work, and getting in to town early was really nice. It took a little bit of the stress off, and we were able to enjoy things other than just the race. We had lunch at Great Lakes Brewing Company, and then went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That was a total blast! After that, we headed to the race expo, checked in to our hotel, and then scoped out Italian food for a pre-race carbo-load. 🙂 We found Peppers of Lakewood near the hotel, and it was exactly what we were looking for- tasty, simple Italian in a neighborhood setting with decent wine. Saturday, we went back in to Ohio City, checked out the West Side Market, had a great brunch at the Flying Fig, then mostly took it easy during the day. I loaded up my ipod with new running tunes to give me something to really look forward to! In the evening, we met up with my running partner, her husband, and some other friends running the race, for dinner. We met at Nano Brew (also in Ohio City – we spent a lot of time in Ohio City). It was hard to decide what to eat, I had been obsessing about pre-run fuel for months… I ended up going for a meatball sandwich. It came with fried cheese on it, and I think I made the wise decision not to eat that! 🙂 I also broke my own rule, and had one beer. They had a radler on the menu, which is my new favorite thing, so I had to go for it. After dinner, we grabbed ice cream and headed back to the hotel. I fell to sleep almost right away, after making sure I had everything laid out for the morning. 4:45am comes pretty quickly!
It was MASSIVE. There were a few things about the expo that disappointed me. For one, it was pretty far away from the course, so it was a little disorienting for out of towners to have to go so far out of the way to pick up their stuff. It sort of felt disconnected from the race itself. The volunteers were friendly enough, but there were not nearly enough of them. Most tables were unmanned, so you waited by your bib number until someone was freed up to come help you after being 5 or 6 tables away. I’m sure this event is hard to staff, but it was a little hectic! Also, running partner and I were both disappointed in the shirts. The marathoner shirts were highlighter yellow, which just does not look good on anyone. Also, the logo is a guitar, and it says that this “The Cleveland Experience” which is totally cashing in on the RnR Hall of Fame, and Cleveland’s claim to Rock, but it seems like it’s conflicting with the Rock and Roll Marathons… and also, the course goes nowhere near the Hall of Fame, and nothing about the race says “Rock and Roll” to me. Anyway, just my input in that part!
Race Day Recap
Since we were staying in Lakewood, we did a little investigating, and decided the best bet was to take public transportation downtown. I got up at about 4:45 and got ready, and headed to the train station at 5am. I was really nervous about pre-race fueling, so I had crackers and peanut butter, and some water. I was also really unsure about what to wear. It was about 45 degrees that early in the morning, but I stuck with a short sleeve shirt, shorts and compression socks, so I was shivering away on the train platform! It was dark and cold! Luckily, it wasn’t that long of a wait until the train came, and most of the riders were runners anyway.
Got to the race start without any trouble, wandered around a bit, then huddled in a doorway with a lot of other people trying to stay warm. I was in Corral F which was right in front of the walking group, so I was lining up towards the back. Our training group got together for a picture before race time!! (Sadly, running buddy missed it, so I managed to find her and snap one before we started!). She and I chatted, and shared our nerves and dread about what we were about to do. But there was literally no going back!
My plan was to do a 10:1 run:walk for my entire race. So when we started moving towards the starting line (stepping over SO MANY discarded hoodies, mittens, garbage bags, socks, and any other scrap of thing a human uses to stay warm), I started my iPod and my timer. I kept my phone with me but decided not to use any running or racing apps. I decided this because I had enough things to stress out about. I decided this because I didn’t want to drain my battery. I decided this because I honestly did not care when I finished (okay yes I did). We ran past Jacobs Field, we ran through downtown, we ran through some great neighborhoods. There was even a group of spectators with a keg in Tremont. Way to represent, Tremont!! The run:walk felt great… GREAT for the first six miles.
Nothing drastic happened at mile six, except I stopped to walk a little longer so I could have a GU. It was probably a 2 minute walk. And it felt great. And then starting the run up again was a little tougher. Mile Six was also when I saw the 4:55 Pace Group ahead of me. I had caught up with them, and thought “Oh, wow! I was aiming for 5 hours, but look, here I am with this group! Go ME!” And then I walked. And then I ran and caught up. And then I walked. And then I ran past them. And then I walked. And never saw them again… More on that later.
The next thing I had to look forward to was Mile 10. Because of the way the course was laid out, a lot of this race was through residential Lakewood in Cleveland. This happened to be where our hotel was, so BF planned for this to be the spot where he watched the race. I got to say hi, he got a picture of me, and even made me a sign at the hotel. That was AWESOME and a real boost for my motivation. That only lasted like… a mile. Between 10 and 13, time slooooooowed down. I kept running, and walking, and running and refeuling, and this is when reality sinks in, and you realize you still have hours to go. That is a rough patch, and there is also the realization that it is only going to get rougher! Around Mile 10 or 11 is also where the Half Marathoners split from the Full, and the race field became pretty much desolate for me. As in, I could see maybe 5 people in front of me, and I didn’t even know if ANYONE was behind me. It felt pretty desolate, and that really takes the wind out of the runners’ sails, and the spectators’ sails. Oh, and did I mention the elite runners were on their way back? Like, they were at Mile 22 when I was at 11? Yeah, that. And some of THEM were encouraging ME.
Around Mile 14, running buddy and I started texting, and checking in about where we were. She was a couple miles ahead of me and was starting to have some pain. I was still feeling okay physically but my brain was starting to revolt! It was good for us to keep checking in, and I saw her right around the turn around for Mile 16. I stopped for a potty break and then the real walking began. Uh-oh. I still had 10 miles to go, and figured out that I was possibly surrounded by people who had been walking THE ENTIRE TIME. I swear to you some of these people look like they hadn’t even broken a sweat This was when it was time for me to dig in and keep going.
P.S. Did I mention that during my training, due to various injuries, sicknesses, coffee cup spills, 2nd degree burns, and maybe the occasional hangover, I had never run more than 18 miles? Well, I remembered that. And it really struck me when I got to 18, 19, 20… THIS is the furthest I’ve ever been! That feeling wore off pretty quickly. Here are things I remember about the end of the race… A slight hill feels like a mountain when you’ve already been running for 4.5 hours. Especially when an entire soapbox derby team is watching you struggle. When your hamstring feels ‘a little tight’, it will probably want to stop working all together by the end of the day. When you get a text from your dad checking in, you will cry. When you get a text from your boyfriend telling you how great you’re doing, you will cry. When you get a text from your BFF librarian friend in Chicago telling you that you are a rock star, you will cry. And when you cry at Mile 24.5, you will realize that you can choose to either cry and hyperventilate, or JUST.KEEP.GOING. So I kept going. And I saw the Cleveland Skyline. And even though I felt like I was in a scene illustrating the desolation of the Walking Dead, I kept running. And I took stupid selfies. And then We Are the Champions came on the iPod. And I felt so happy. Because I did it. Because it was almost over. Because I am was slowly making my way there with every step.
And then it was over!
I saw BF as I came close to the finish line, then there it was. All done. I got my medal, I walked, I cooled down, and I grabbed every snack I could get my hands on! Popcorn? Yes, please! Chocolate milk, OK! Banana, you bet! And I ate it all and I just marvelled. At what I did, and at how hard it was, and how fun, and complicated, and crazy.
Thanks for stickin’ with me on my 26.2! Photo Post to come!