Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cleveland Half Marathon Race Recap!

So I'm a little late getting to this.  Life has been busy this week! I didn't expect to have such a good time in Cleveland.  I've lived in Ohio my whole life and had never visited there.  I'd never heard good things about the city and when my running partner didn't register in time for the race (which sold out for the first time in history) I was pretty sure the whole thing was going to be bad.  Thankfully, I was wrong!

The goodness, if you will, started at the expo.  Lots of good vendors, not too crowded, and easily-accessible bibs/packets/t-shirt pick up.  I finally got my Rider post-run recovery shoes (to go along with my post-run recovery calf compression sleeves) and since I had left my Sweaty Band at home, I picked up a new one of those too!  Definitely a good day for me!

My sister had made reservations for us at a little place in Cleveland's Little Italy district for dinner.  The food was great, but the entertainment took the cake.  We were seated in the back portion of the restaurant where there were 2 singers and a dance floor.  Not too many people were dancing (besides some HS kids there before prom), but everyone was enjoying these singers.  They covered Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Elvis, Michael Buble, etc.  It was great, but made conversation a little hard.  After dinner we walked over to a little Italian bakery, where hubby got a chocolate chip cannoli  and I got a big peanut butter cookie. Perfect way to end the night.

The race started at 7:00 am and our hotel was conveniently located about 3 blocks away from the starting line. It was in the upper 40's/low 50's and sunny.  Perfect running weather!  I offered my sister good luck wishes and off she went to find the 3:40 pace group for the marathon.  I found my spot with the 4:15/9:43 pace group, said good bye to my hubby and then the race began.  I didn't really know what to expect.  I didn't even look at the course map until the night before.  I hadn't trained for a hilly course, and thankfully it wasn't!  That's not to say it was completely flat, but more on that later.  I had no expectations for this race.  I had really hoped to do well at my first race in Louisville and when that didn't pan out, I honestly didn't expect much.  I was pleasantly surprised.

The first few miles took you through downtown Cleveland and across a bridge.  There's always something so empowering about running down the middle of an otherwise busy city street.  I took in the sights as we passed the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Browns' stadium, and the Cleveland Indians' stadium.  The view from the bridge was pretty cool, as well (for Cleveland).  I kept thinking of my sister and hoped and prayed that she was on track to her BQ.

Next you ran through a pretty industrial area.  Nothing too exciting to see, but honestly, I wasn't looking.  I had my iPod on and I was just concentrating on running.  I didn't feel great, but I didn't feel bad either.  My goal was to stay ahead of the 4:15 pace group for as long as possible.  Around mile 6 they caught up with me.  I heard them come upon me like a heard of elephants.  I stayed with them for about a mile, and eventually I could just barely make out the pace leader sign. It was around this point of the race that I ran into another runner, who became known as "king kong" in my mind.  He was really tall and thin and kind of pounded his feet into the ground with each stride.  What really gave him his nickname was the loud grunting/snorting/loogy-making sounds he was making.  He had his headphones in both ears, so I wonder if he knew how loud he was?  I also wondered if he knew that he was "that guy"? That entertained me for awhile, as I tried to avoid his loogies!

Around mile 9 we made our turn back to the city and ran along Lake Erie.  There was a really nice neighborhood at the turn and there was great crowd support here.  The course overall, was pretty well supported by fans.  That's always a good thing for me!  Along with the great view of the lake came the lakefront winds and a slow, gradual incline. This part was mentally tough.  I just kept moving though and turned on my mental marathon mantra.  I picked out a girl in front of me to stay with and eventually I made my up the incline.  We crossed another bridge back into the city, and I knew the end was near.  As we came down the bridge there was great crowd support.  I found my  hubby cheering for me here!  It was great (and unexpected) to see him.  We hit mile 12 and I knew I was going to finish with a PR.  I was feeling good and strong and the crowds were just getting thicker and thicker as we made our way to the finish line.  I crossed the line at 2:09...a 9 minute PR! 

I made my way through the recovery area and picked up some chips, chocolate milk and a bottle of water.  I sipped water throughout the race, but hadn't had anything else since the GU I took before the race started.  My stomach felt good and I was pretty hungry!  I found my hubby and asked him how my sister was doing.  At the half-way mark she was ahead of the 3:40 pace group and was feeling good.  I was so excited for her!  We quickly went back to the hotel so I could shower and made our way back down to the finish line to watch my sister come in. 

I've never really been a spectator at a race.  Usually I finish running and have to leave quickly to check out of the hotel/take care of my kids/etc.  Watching these fast marathoners was inspiring! They made it look so easy. I teared up watching a little girl bounce around on her Daddy's shoulders as he crossed the finish line in 3:20.  Amazing!  We knew my sister would be coming soon so we took our spots about 100 yards away from the finish line and waited.  I was in charge of the sign, and my husband in charge of taking pictures and the cowbell.  Neither worked out so well, we were so excited when we saw her.  We raced down the street, dodging people, trees and buildings to try and catch her finishing time.  She ended up crossing the finish line at 3:39.  She got her BQ!!  I was so proud of her.  She set her goal and achieved it.  Simply amazing and inspiring!  It was the perfect ending to my spring racing.

Looking forward, I have some new adventures lined up.  I started taking a boot camp class with a personal trainer this week. It meets from 5:30-6:15 am at a local park with about 12 other women.  It meets 3 days a week, rain or shine. Perfect.  What wasn't so perfect was a 1/3 mile sprint/cardiovascular endurance test first thing on Monday morning.  My quads and hip flexors were pretty tight after Sunday's race, and the sprint test only made it worse.  At least I'll be sure to show some improvement from beginning to end!  I've also decided to bite the bullet and try out my local running store's running group.  Now that I am almost completely partner-less (I think the dingo is even over running long-distance with me....he just can't keep up most days), I need to find a nice group to run with.  I've realized that there's worse things than being slow, and if I end up running by myself, well then I'm not any worse off than if I hadn't tried the group out.  My first run with them will be Saturday morning, unless it's raining.  One thing is for sure though.  I am ready to start training for my next marathon.  I want to feel that pride of completing 26.2 miles.  I want to get up at 4am and go out for a 20 mile run.  I want to feel alive again.  Someone please remind me of this when I start complaining about my aching x,y, or z! Sunday, October 17th, 2010 ~ Columbus, OH ~ Nationwide Better Health Marathon ~ Be there or be square!


Lisa said...

Congrats for finishing and for the PR! Way to go.

DaphneB said...

Congrats on finishing and the PR!! I'm running my first half this October and shooting for my first full next year. Looking forward to continuing tracking your progress. =o)

The CilleyGirl said...

Great job on the half!

Anonymous said...

Awesome job! I have a friend who ran this race too and also said it was very scenic. I would love to run it myself some day!

Been to little Italy too. AWESOME ;)

Jodi H said...

Great job on your PR. I wish my Cleveland marathon had a happy ending. I made it to mile 25 and woke up in an not what I planned formy first marathon. I have done a boot camp class before as well. It was pretty hard core and very early in the morning!!