On Sunday, I ran the second annual Rock Hall Half Marathon in Cleveland, Ohio. I spent most of Monday picking apart my race day performance and beating myself up over achieving my personal worst half marathon time to date. But the more I talked to other runners and heard other stories, the more I realized I shouldn’t worry that much about it.
It was a tough race in brutal conditions. There were a lot of people walking — much more than I have seen in any other race (except maybe the Cleveland Marathon in 2015). The temperature, while much cooler than it has been, was still high for a race and the humidity was up at 95%. And since this wasn’t my ‘A’ race, I had done zero race prep — no tempo runs, no track work, no nothin’ except for building my base for my upcoming marathon. Here’s how things went (grab a snack and some coffee, this is a long one):
Rock Hall Half Marathon Race Recap
Race morning arrived and I headed downtown. I met up with my friend Heather just before the start. We shot a quick selfie and proceeded to talk about our pre-race anxiety as we made our way to the starting line. Heather is much faster than I am but instead of shoving my way into the middle of the pack where I should have been, I walked right in the front with her. It was easier that way.
The gun went off. I kept my composure despite the fastest runners blowing past me. It was incredible to see them take off in what looked to me like a full-on sprint! They had to dodge me and I felt a little bad, but then I remembered all the races I had to dodge other people and I cared a little less.
It was hot and humid from the start. Within the first mile I was sweating bullets. I held onto a decent pace for the first 5K. Under normal weather circumstances, I would have been right on target for a solid race. I really had to pee but I had no plans to stop so I did what every runner does and ignored it.
Suddenly out of nowhere the 9:30 pacer blew past me. I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. Later, I would find out most of the pacers were running fast. I feel sorry for the people that were relying on them. It got into my head a little bit but not much since it was still the beginning of the race.
The next two miles were pretty good. I debated about ditching my shirt because I was sweating so much, but I worried a little bit about my bib not being picked up on the mats so I opted to keep it on. By this time I must have sweat all my pee out because I didn’t need to use the bathroom anymore. TMI?
I got a nice burst of energy at 4.5 miles — a burst of energy I could have used later in the race but that’s what happens when your music dictates your adrenaline level.
Just after mile 6 we entered the Cultural Gardens on MLK. It’s a beautiful area of the city and I just love running there. I was comfortably in a zone. I felt in control and happy. Plus the net downhill of the gardens was welcome and I was really dialed in to running the tangents smartly.
Mile 9 is when it all went to hell. In an unfortunate twist of events, the 9:55 pacer was directly behind me and started yelling really loud. I’m sure he was just cheering on the group he was running with but it was so distracting that it startled me and I could never quite regain my composure. I was really irritated because I finally felt at peace with the humidity and my pace, and then he destroyed my sense of calm. It also messed with me mentally because he was the 9:55 pacer and he was passing me. I couldn’t get past that because I was averaging a 9:30 pace the entire time he was in my sight. But again, the pacers were running fast — I just didn’t know it at the time.
At mile 10 my entire right leg started aching — everywhere from my hip to my toe. I finally had to pull over twice to stretch out the bottom of my foot. It was quite uncomfortable and I went from thinking, “only three miles left!” to “I still have three miles left?”
The last three miles of this race is kind of a mindfark. On the one hand, the view from the lake in the last three miles is quite beautiful. On the other hand, you can see the downtown skyline and it’s still fairly far off in the distance so you know you’ve got a ways to go before the finish line.
This was the first race I stopped at every single water stop. I didn’t carry water with me and with the amount of fluid I was losing, I knew I had to stop at each station. After the last aid station at mile 12, I had a hard time convincing myself to run again. I kept thinking, “I can’t possibly run another mile in this brutal humidity and with this achy leg.” But after I walked for a few seconds, I put my head back on, changed my music, turned it way up, and ran hard for the last mile.
In truth, I could have run harder for the last mile. But I received a text from my husband telling me where they were watching, and I knew I didn’t want to be pushing puke pace while my kids were cheering me on. I wanted to finish strong and happy, so I reeled it in. I high-fived my husband and kids as I entered the chute. What a great feeling. When I finished I was immediately greeted by my two friends and their kids, and then met up with my family.
Finish time: 2:11:21
Rock City 5K
And you may be wondering about my C25K clients that were training for the Rock City 5K… they did great. During our last training run they were speculating they would run a 12 minute mile or so. I told them they would run much faster come race day but I left it at that. Come to find out, one of my clients ran the 5K in 27:40 and placed second in her age group. And the other one smashed her goal and ran an average of 10:13 minute/miles. I’m so impressed and blown away by their performances and overall dedication to the C25K program. I hope they’re equally as proud and still riding that runner’s high!
Overall, it was another great Rock Hall race weekend. Next year I’ll be back with a vengeance. Can’t leave this personal worst hanging about for too long. But I’ve also got bigger fish to fry with the Marine Corps Marathon looming in the not-so-distant future.
Next time you’re in Cleveland, or if you’re local already and haven’t run the Rock Hall Half Marathon, I highly recommend it. The course is phenomenal. The views are beautiful. The aid stations and post-race party are exceptional. I better see you in 2017!
TALK TO ME!
Did you pick apart your personal worst race performance?
What’s your favorite half marathon? Include the city! Hello, racecation!
Linking up with My No-Guilt Life, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and MCM Mama Runs for Tuesdays on the Run, and HoHo Runs and MissSippi Piddlin’ for the Weekly Wrap. Also linking up with Nicole, Annmarie, Angelena Marie, and Michelle for Wild Workout Wednesday.