Race Recap: Cleveland Marathon 2011

May 17, 2011

(photo credit: mojamala2)
That’s a picture of the Cleveland Marathon race shirt this year (courtesy of Jess, I neglected to take a picture of my own shirt!)
Oh what a Cleveland Experience it was!!
Let’s just start from the very beginning here…Alicia hosted an OBA pre-race carb fest for anyone who was running and any other bloggers/significant others who wanted to be there! It was awesome to meet so many other bloggers from the area who I regularly stalk via their blogs Plus it was an awesome meal before a big race!
Race morning, Brandon and I woke up at 5 a.m. after we both had nightmares about various aspects of the race. We had every thing ready for the morning and only had to get up, let the pups out and get out the door. The plan was to take the 5:40 rapid into Tower City and use the walk over to Browns Stadium as a warm-up lap before the race.
That was the plan.

We waited for the Green Line at Shaker and Green, where there were about 10 other runners/spectators there waiting for the train to get them downtown by 6:03. 5:40 rolls around…no train. 5:53…no train. ‘Um…okay…should we just drive? It’s going to be a mess if we do.’ A minute or so later, we see a bus labeled “Green Line” drive into the parking lot and beckon us over. 
The bus driver goes, “there’s a car across the tracks and the train can’t get down here, I’m going to take you to the Shaker Square stop”
Brandon asks “But if the train can’t turn around at Green, are there any trains going west into downtown?”
Bus Driver “I’m not sure”
Holy crap! I am in panic mode at this point, ‘what if we don’t make it in time? How on earth are we going to get downtown?! All the roads are closed!!’

The bus takes us down to the Shaker Square stop, and on the way we see a car flipped over on the train tracks. As we are driving up we see a train (that is headed west!) pulling up into the station. So everyone jumps out of the bus and sprints to the train. It gets us to Tower City at 6:30. So, Brandon and I jog down to the stadium and get there by 6:40 (give or take a minute). We both need to poop. We need to check our gear at the bag check. I manage to find a bathroom with no lines and run in while Brandon waits outside for me. No such luck with the Men’s bathrooms…they all have lines out the door. Oh, and where in god’s name is the bag check???? 
Finally, I see signs for the bag check so Brandon decides to wait in line for the bathroom while I got check our stuff. We agree to meet right outside the bathroom he’s going into. I go check our bag, by this time it’s 6:53, and I run back to the bathroom to wait for Brandon. 
I start panicking (again) because I am seeing people filter all the way through the line and out of the other door while I was waiting there…but no Brandon. ‘Maybe he tried to find me at the bag check?’ I start hearing announcements outside and I am no longer seeing people with marathon-colored bibs anywhere in the stadium. I called him, thankfully we both had our phones on us in our trusty Camelbaks…but he didn’t answer. I run back towards bag check…nothing. I head outside towards the start…nothing. At 6:59, I call again and he answers. He was waiting for me by the bathroom, where we agreed to meet. Dummy…why did I even leave? Apparently there were like 30 urinals in that bathroom and 4 stalls.
Honestly? Every runner there is going to want to poop. Not pee. Get real Browns Stadium.
Thankfully, either my watch was fast or the race didn’t start quite on time. We got down to the starting area (for lack of a better word for the cluster that was the start of the race) and had a minute or two to calm down (well, I had a minute or two to calm down). Deirdre, my favorite yoga teacher ever, who was also running the race with her boyfriend, managed to find us right before we started to say hi. Then we were off.
I have never experienced so much anxiety before a race like I did that morning.
Seriously, my heart rate was probably higher at the start than it would be for the entire rest of the race.
Our plan was to get a couple of solid miles in before we started our 4 minutes running, 1 minute walking. Well, we ended up running the majority of the first 13 miles…and killing it! If we had kept up that pace for the whole race, we would have easily beat my PR. 
There was a problem with that. I hit a wall early. As soon as the half marathoners split off and we began to heat east, the field in our immediate vicinity suddenly went from about 50 people to about 12. The wind started blowing. It got cold. The 60 degrees and misty of the beginning of the race quickly turned into 50 degrees and rainy. My hands turned into two ice cubes. I seriously underestimated how cold it was going to get. My shorts and t-shirt were not keeping me warm anymore.
By mile 14, I had to start run/walking. I was getting tired, cold and the worst part was, my shoulders were tightening up on me. It started feeling more and more like there was a gorilla sitting on my shoulders and I couldn’t shake the feeling. Thank goodness that Brandon was able to stay positive through all of those miles that I couldn’t. Mentally, that second half of the race got the better of me.
At some point, the 4:45 pace group passed us, and I couldn’t find the heart to catch up. I apologized to Brandon a few times for slowing down so much, but he kept reminding me “We trained together, we started together and we’re going to finish together. That’s all there is to it.”
Love him.
At mile 20, I got a good jolt. Liz, a good friend of my from college, rode her bike down with her husband to see us. In the crappy weather, they came to cheer us on! That meant so much to me. I can’t even put it into words. She asked how I was doing and I said “dude, I’m struggling”. She reminded me that I only had 6.2 more miles. I could do this
Liz posted this picture on facebook after the race. Our mile 20 smiles:
We continued to run/walk all the way to the finish. I just had to digest it in 4 minute bite sized pieces or it was going to get the best of me. My shoulders were tight, I was soaked, my hands were icicles (isn’t it freaking May?!?!) but I had Brandon next to me the entire time. Smiling and keeping me positive. I am so lucky for that. The clock time at the finish was 5:06 and we crossed the finish line holding hands. I swear I almost cried, until I heard them announce our names and then everything just dissolved. I made it…in once piece…so did Brandon…phew!
All I could think of was chocolate milk. Thank goodness they had some for us at the end.
Even though we wanted to beat my PR, I think the bigger accomplishment was working through four months of training and running that entire race right next to each other. We finished. Together. That 26.2 mile journey  with Brandon by my side meant more to me than I could ever put into words. Pretty sure we can conquer just about anything now.
Now, I think that deserved a day off work yesterday, don’t you??

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