May 18, 2014. My first half marathon. The Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10K. 13.1 miles for me. Here’s the weekend recap:
Race Recap: 2014 Cleveland Half Marathon
May 16-17 were the Expo dates. We took the whole fam damnily to the expo. It was actually pretty fun. I got to meet Bud and Aaron from SureSport in person, which was awesome. And I met Marisa from Swirlgear in person as well! My Boo has conjured a recent obsession with being in the Army so he was totally stoked to see the U.S. Army represented, and even got to do some sit ups with one of the guys.
While wandering the expo, my friend Julie and I happened across this:
Had to make this happen, for obvious reasons.
And then, of course, we saw the warnings but we had to feed them anyway…
We didn’t get to spend as much time at the Expo as I would have liked. HOWEVER, upon returning home and checking the mail, I received THIS:
The stars were aligning. The weekend was coming together. It was almost GO TIME!!!
I made my family carb-load for dinner. It was delicious. Pasta, pasta, and more pasta. I wasn’t nervous at all and was hoping for a glorious night’s sleep. Unfortunately I started picking my various outfit options just before bed, which of course caused some anxiety. I slept terribly.
Race Day is Here!
The morning started bright and early. Well, not bright. It was still the middle of the night. Wake up was at 4:30 am. I was hoping to hydrate and get my innards moving, so to speak. I made my way downstairs, as quiet as a mouse, chugged my water and waited. And waited. I played on Facebook. I checked email. And waited some more. Nothin’.
This is too damn early.
Two of my friends were picking me up at 5:30, and at 5:15 I got a text that said as soon as the bike was loaded, they were heading my way. YIKES! I wasn’t even dressed yet! The night before I had been debating on what to wear. I had three options. Start time weather was coooooooold, but I knew with the sun rising while on the course I was most definitely going to warm up. I opted for capris, a long sleeve half zip running shirt, and a t-shirt. I was NOT going to repeat the frigidity of my 10-miler — I would much rather be too hot than too cold.
After I got dressed, double checked to make sure I had everything I needed. My friends pulled up, I hopped in the car, and off we went to gather one more pal and head downtown! We arrived downtown at 6:00 am. Still cold out. But at least the sun was rising at this point. We walked over to the porta-potties (ew), peed, and made our way over to the starting corrals. The corrals were where our first photos happened.
Julie, me and Eugenia, freezing our tushies off, and sporting our throw-aways.
Bye bye, lovely charcoal sweatshirt. Brrrr!!!!
After this photo, we waited to find and meet up with another running pal, Erin! We finally found her, and her awesome husband Dave took this photo just before go time.
Erin, Eugenia, Julie, and me! Go 13.1!
Go Time! Let’s Run!
After this shot, Julie went up to Corral B (yes, she’s freaking fast), Erin went to join her pace group, and Eugenia and I tried to huddle together to stay warm. And then we started!
Pretty congested. It was hard to have any forward momentum. At one point I heard the 4:00 pace group coming up behind me. Once they passed me, I decided I would try to stick with them since my goal was 2:00 for the half. I wasn’t originally going to run with a pace group as I thought I would get stressed out from trying to keep up (or go faster).
I decided to hang back from the pace group. 13.1 miles is a long way to go, and I was already getting stressed out by trying to stick with them. Should have stuck with my original plan!
I got really emotional. As I crossed over the timer, I remembered I had signed some of my family members up for text or email alerts to track my progress. I had family tracking me from the east to west coast. It was a nice feeling knowing they were able to see what I was doing in real time. But it also made me self-conscious that I wasn’t going fast enough. (I don’t own a Garmin so I run by “feel.”)
Easy miles. I slowed my pace a bit. I knew that I was going to need some energy for the last 5K. Unfortunately I also got a side stitch around mile 8. What is with me getting side stitches during races?! It’s so stressful, unnerving, and most of all, annoying!!
I realized I needed water and fuel. During training I rarely drank water or needed to fuel, because I properly hydrated and carb-loaded before my long runs. But I can recognize when it’s necessary, so I used the last aid station. After a failed attempt at pinching the cup to pour water into my mouth while on the move and subsequently pouring it all over my face as well as in my nose like a true champ, I walked for a minute to gracefully hydrate and fuel with some beans.
Uphill. All uphill. Normally don’t mind hills, but after 11 miles of running, hills seem stupid. That is all.
I turned off my music and took out my earbuds. Wanting to fully enjoy the sights and sounds of my first half marathon, I listened to the drums in the distance, and saw and heard spectators cheering us on. At the crest of the last hill, I saw the finish flags. I started scanning the crowd to see if I could find my family. I ran past the drummers. It was amazing. It was such a full and satisfying feeling. My appetite for accomplishment had been satiated. My training had come full circle.
Finish time: 2:07:30.
I finished strong. I kept a nice pace, and felt amazing as I crossed the finish line. It was an amazing sense of accomplishment.
After I crossed the finish line, I received my finishers medal and grabbed some water, a banana, and some pretzels. As I was making my way over to meet up with my husband and kids, I was walking past the “finishers photo” spot. Normally I would have kept walking. I would have felt stupid for taking a picture alone with no one else around to cheer me on or smile for the camera with me. But this was my day. This was my 8 weeks of training coming to an end. So I stood in front of the backdrop, smiled, and got an amazing photo.
I did it! Thank you, stranger, for taking my photo!
Post-race with the fam.
The bling! And the cool guitar in the middle rotates. Whoop!
Afterward, we came home, I took a shower and stuffed my face with eggs, a bagel, some strawberries, and coffee. I also took a much needed nap. After my nap, I sported my awesome SureSport tech shirt, slapped my 13.1 decal on my car, and had a beautiful day with my family.
13.1, baby! And yes, it is tie-dyed. 🙂
I could not have asked for better weather, better spectators, better training, or better support throughout my first half marathon experience. I am thankful everything turned out as splendidly as it did. The course was beautiful. We ran through the historic Cleveland neighborhoods of Tremont and Ohio City, through Lakewood, past Edgewater Park, and back downtown. The spectators were amazing. There were some great signs, too. It was an amazing experience, and I’m thankful I was blessed with such a perfect day for my first half.
When’s the next one?
When was your first half marathon? How was it?
What is your favorite sign you’ve seen on course of a race?