I came, I saw, I conquered. I’ve officially completed my tenth half marathon at the third annual Rock Hall Half Marathon on Sunday. And what a great day, it was! Aside from my own race, I had a few runners out on the course throughout the morning — four ran the 5K, one ran the 10K, and another ran the half. They all did great and achieved the goals they set out for themselves. I couldn’t be happier about their performances.
As for myself, I initially wanted to PR Rock Hall this year. Up until last week I had big plans. But last week was tough. Mentally I was just not in the game. Physically I was in kind of bad shape, too. I had a really aggressive appointment with my chiropractor on Wednesday that left my calf feeling mangled and bruised. My PR just wasn’t meant to be. I still had a phenomenal race, though, and Rock Hall Half never disappoints.
2017 Rock Hall Half Marathon Review
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of my own race, let me tell you a bit about the Rock Hall Half Marathon/10K/5K.
Parking this year was kind of a pain. I usually park in the same spot for all my downtown races (save for the Cleveland Marathon since that starts on the opposite side of the city). This year, though, I couldn’t find a spot! I was minutes from panicking. Thankfully it wasn’t hard to find another spot on a different street or I would have been in serious trouble. I don’t think anyone had trouble finding parking, to be honest. Anywhere you park for this race is just a short walk to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Not many races can boast a free entry to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, right? But the namesake race can — and does! Every half marathon runner receives a free ticket to the Rock Hall. Plus the amazing medal and a nice race shirt — the race swag is pretty great!
Crowd support on the half marathon race course is bare bones. New this year were live bands playing along the course, which more than made up for the lack of crowd support. Some of the bands were super loud, but I think that may just be my old age showing. Or that I was running too close to the speakers — either way. 😉 Once runners get back to the last half mile of the race, crowd support picks up quite a bit. It’s a nice bump in energy level and gives runners a nice kick to cross the finish line!
The course is one of my favorites. Runners start and finish next to the Rock Hall, and meander through downtown before heading into the Cultural Gardens. After the Cultural Gardens, the course follows the lakeshore which is really beautiful and provides nice scenery through some of the more challenging miles.
The post-race atmosphere at the Rock Hall Half Marathon is great. Lots of runners mingle and stick around to watch friends and family cross the finish line. It’s a great place to meet running friends new and old! I saw a lot of familiar faces this year which is one of my favorite parts of the Cleveland running community.
Live music, of course, along with well-stocked food tables full of bananas, watermelon, and pizza, in addition to various beverage options, makes it a really fun place to hang out for a while!
2017 Rock Hall Half Marathon Race Recap
As I mentioned, I had high hopes for a PR at this race. Unfortunately it didn’t happen. There were a lot of factors at play. I did have a solid race, though, so while I’m a little disappointed in my finish time, I’m not at all disappointed in my execution.
The first couple miles were a breeze. I cruised without thinking too much about pace. I was a little concerned about hydration, though. It wasn’t too hot (yet) but by the time I got to the first water stop, I was already ready for some liquid. The first three miles wound us around the city to get to our first substantial portion of straightaway.
For the next three miles, we ran straight into the sun. This part of the course is the least scenic, which I frankly don’t mind as we’re running directly into the sun and I’m usually just starting to get into the groove of running. I did spend a considerable amount of time thinking about water until we got to mile 6. My pace was solid, though. I felt great.
The next three miles took us through the Cultural Gardens on MLK. The Cultural Gardens are just beautiful. The roadway is mostly downhill and it’s shaded. This is always my favorite part of the race, though I did spend a little bit of time thinking about water here, too. The only snag was around 8.5 miles when I started to get a side stitch. Thankfully we were met with a hill that I charged up which helped to change my stride a bit and get rid of the cramp. Otherwise I may have been in trouble. Phew! Overall, I held onto a really great pace and felt great during these miles.
I knew coming out of the pleasant shade of the gardens would be tough. It was hot now, the sun was much higher, and I was beginning to feel the effects of dehydration. I desperately wanted to hold onto my pace and even more so, I wanted to chip it down. But between the heat, my headspace, and having water-anxiety, I started to fall apart. Miles 11 and 12 were particularly brutal. They were my slowest miles of the race. My music just wasn’t cutting it. I started walking every now and again. And it frankly didn’t help that one of the guys I was using as a pacer had started walking, too.
Then I started wondering how close I was to a PR. I even called my husband to ask, but my runner tracking wasn’t working so he didn’t know. I knew I would be close if I could just get back to the pace I was running through the gardens. How close? I wasn’t sure, but I wasn’t going down without a fight. I saw two of my 5K runners on their way out of downtown which gave me a boost, and I pressed on.
The last mile was tough but not nearly as tough as 11 and 12. I was really grateful I had a little bit left in the tank to sail across the finish line. I missed my PR by two minutes. It stung a little. Actually, it still stings. But I gave that race my all. I imagine I’ll be sore for a couple days while I recover from such a hard effort.
Finish time: 2:01:11
The biggest takeaway for me from the 2017 Rock Hall Half is that I need to run with my own hydration during hot weather races. I was even considering it the night before but decided I wanted to run light and rely on the aid stations. This was my downfall. While walking through aid stations always recharges me, it wasn’t easy to stay ahead of the hydration game and I’m fairly certain that’s what cost me my PR.
Am I disappointed in my race? Yes and no. Yes because of the PR snafu, but no because I really had no expectations due to the days leading up to the race. Up until I set foot on the race course, I didn’t even know if I would be able to run all 13.1 miles. Plus, and this is definitely worth mentioning, this is my second fastest half marathon ever — so there’s that little silver lining, right?
If you’ve never run Rock Hall Half before, I highly recommend it. It’s a fun race atmosphere and the race course is great. The medals are always cool, so if you like swag this is the race for you. I’ll definitely be back next year. If I don’t get that half PR in 2017, I’m making this course mine in 2018! I better see you there!
Have you ever missed a PR by a minute or two? How did you feel?
What’s your favorite half marathon?