Settle in this is going to take awhile :)
I like running Cleveland not so much for the actual course but because it's the one race that I'm surrounded by family and friends. My family may not always understand why I run as much or as far as I do but at least they are there cheering me on along the course.
Race morning started early but not bright. The alarm was set for 4:45 am but the hubs woke at 4:30 to go to the bathroom and I'm a bit of a light sleeper. Unfortunately when I need to be up early I don't sleep well and marathon eve was no exception. I rolled out of bed and started my ritual. At 5:35 am my best friend, her husband, and her parents, picked me up and we were on our way to Cleveland. The p's dropped us off close to the start with nearly 45 minutes until the start and we started our hike to the port-a-potties.
For the first time in 33 years the Cleveland marathon and half marathon sold out. It is great news for the city and the race but some of the logistics haven't quite caught up with the race size. My biggest gripe were that the port-a-pots were on a street that was not closed to traffic and there were not nearly enough for the number of people running this year. I hope they learn because it was a hot mess.
After a not so quick trip it was nearly time to start. Mr. H and I lined up just behind the 4 hour pace group and Mrs. H headed to line up for her half marathon pace. The plan for this race was that Mr. H who is a bit of a speedster would pace me for a sub-4 hour marathon. Before my friend left to find her place we took a quick picture.
My garmin struggled to find a signal while waiting for the start and before it did we were off. Luckily I had my trusty pacer to worry about our time :) Although I still started my watch even if the mileage was off because I'm dependent and obsessive like that.
The morning started in the 50's and sunny and eventually warmed to the mid 60's. I was expecting overcast skies but no such luck. I warmed up fast! Mr. H and I took off slowly but had to dodge a lot through the first few miles. It took me awhile to settle into the race and on top of that I had to pee but had no desire to stop and wait at any of the sporadically placed port-a-pots.
Mr. H and I didn't run right next to each other the entire time, as I usually fell behind, but it was nice to have someone shoot the sh*t with and a pace bunny to chase. As we ran by the huge mural of LeBron around the 5K mark we took time to boo him for possibly leaving. We talked about past races and the course changes. Officials added Tremont, a cutesy neighborhood, to the schedule and it was a nice addition. We complained about the Shoreway. Sounds nice right? Not so much. It's Mr. H's most dreaded part of the course. I forgot about the nearly 2 mile gradual uphill on a concrete expressway from miles 8 - 10. There is absolutely no crowd support because there is no way to get there and you also get to pass a stinky water treatment plant. I nearly lost my breakfast and gu chomps. After some tearing and dry heaving I made it past that one.
The first 13 miles were the most fun I have had in any race yet because I was going through them with a friend!
Right around 13 miles Jacob and my sister were there to cheer us on. I traded out water bottles with my hubs and my sister jumped in to join the fun on through 16. We hit the half right around 1:59 and change. Right where we wanted to be.
Then I took a turn for a worse, just like last year.
At this point of the course the half marathoners have left to finish their race and taken nearly all the race supporters with them. Miles 13.2 - 16 are by the lakefront airport (boring and no spectators), 16-17 are on a bike path by the lake (more of us on our own), and nearly all these middle sucky miles were into the wind. No matter how much you run in wind you are never truly prepared for it. Then as you turn away from the wind into the metro parks you are greeted with a ton of long uphills with no downhills, only a flattening out.
somewhere around 16 I think, not so pretty
I won't go on about how crappy I felt between 14 - 20. I was presented with a mental challenge I was not able to breakthrough on Sunday. We reached mile 20 at 3:04 and I knew my goal wasn't going to happen. Plain and simple - I gave up on my goal and myself. I kept on pushing as much as I could because of Mr. H but my heart was no longer in it to win it if you know what I mean. He encouraged me when he could or just gave a look over his shoulder to make sure I was still with him. It was all I needed to keep on keeping on.
I walked for the first time around 20ish through the water station as I ran out of what I was carrying. After my walk break of a few seconds I told Mr. H I couldn't do it any longer. I don't remember what he said but it got me moving again and I was able to pick it up briefly. At this point I was tired of feeling bad and wanted to focus on something else. I started thanking every race volunteer and spectator I made eye contact with. It helped immensely!
From 20 on I walked through all the water stations and just told myself to get to the next one. My sister found us again around the 22/23 mark and snapped some shots of us on her iphone before jumping in on the fun.
look at all those supporters around us...
At the water station around 24 I told them to go on ahead without me. I was really struggling even though I knew it was almost over. If they left I was going to walk and not care. They wouldn't leave. I felt bad making Mr. H run so slow! I wanted him to at least have a decent ending to the race but he stuck with me and all my mood swings ;)
What seemed like an eternity but was really around 10 minutes we reached the point with 1 mile remaining. I so desperately wanted to pick it up but I just couldn't. I had nothing left in the tank to give. As we rounded the last corner to the finish we saw my friend and her parents. She jumped in with us for a couple hundred feet to cheer us on. Along the way to the finish all the spectators were kind of standing around so I yelled out a "let's hear it" Mr. H started clapping and we tried to get the crowd going.
Last year my family missed my finish. This year they were on the ball! Which was good because I had given my sister my fuel belt that also held my phone.
Mr. H and I very happy to be done
my other partner on the course - my sister turned out nearly 6 miles for the first time ever!
We crossed the line with a chip time of 4:07:55! I bettered my time from Cleveland last year by nearly 14 minutes thanks to Mr. H! It's not a personal best but at least it's not a worst either. And for all my difficulties I did have fun and at the end of the day that is what matters. Although the phrase "This is my last marathon" may have been spoken.
I quickly found my dad and stepmom who had walked the 10K! Their first race since beating their cancers. Then my hubs who had been kicking a few back in the beer garden with my brother-in-law. crazy kids...
While in the beer garden sipping my nasty plastic bottled miller lite (don't judge it was free and cold) I saw a guy wearing a 1st marathon sign on his shirt so I made a point to congratulate him. Usually I'm too scared to talk to strangers but I felt the need to acknowledge others throughout this entire race. Something in talking to others, saying "thank you" and "congratulations" made me feel so happy and allowed me a much better race experience. Anyway, he came over sat down next to me and started chatting me up for the next 15 minutes. I learned a lot about him but never caught his name - congrats to the man from Connecticut who drove 8 hours to Cleveland for a "flat" course and rocked his first marathon in a stellar 3:47!
Highlights from race day:
- The signs! "Chuck Norris Never Ran a Marathon" (I love a good chuck norris reference!), "If it were easy, I would be running" and another one that said Let's Go Cavs, with Cavs crossed out, and runners added.
- Passing batman around mile 23.
- The spectators on the back half. They may have been few and far between but the ones that were there were fantastic! Especially the nice girl with oranges around 22. I may have called her my savior :)
- the early on neighborhoods support. I hope this keeps growing every year and also to the back half the marathon.
- The cute little family of four cheering hard at multiple spots along the back of the course
- My sister who thinks running 26.2 miles is stupid still out on the course running nearly 6 miles with me. Thanks loo!
- Mr. H for sticking with me through it all! Dude, you freaking rock and saying thank you is not enough I know!
cheers! #5 is in the books!
Thank you for all your support on this one!