The 2018 Cleveland Half Marathon may be over but I’ve got plenty of lessons to learn from it. Here’s my review of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and race recap!
Have you ever participated in a race where you set zero expectations and zero goals for yourself, only to be disappointed by the outcome or performance of said race? Me too.
Sunday, May 20, 2018 was the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10K. As a race ambassador, there was never really any question as to if I’d be running. The only question was which distance. And to be frank, that wasn’t much up for debate either. I’m not a spring marathoner and a 4:30 am wakeup call for a 10K seemed excessive. But when I was plagued with hamstring tendinitis in December and then a slew of illnesses in February and March, I began to question whether the half marathon distance was realistic.
Come April and May, I was beginning to feel more optimistic. Despite my longest long run being a measly 9 miles, I felt fairly confident. After all, I spent a lot more time on the extras this time around — spinning, barre, and the gym to be specific.
But before I get into the details of my race, let me review this year’s Cleveland Marathon. I base my race reviews on the following categories: parking, swag, crowd support, course, post-race fun, and yes, the weather. It’s Cleveland, after all…
Cleveland Marathon Race Review
I took the rapid down to the race this year. It was incredibly easy and I made it to the starting line with no problem.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the swag this year. The medal was clutch and for that I’m very happy. And the shirt design is sharp and clean. Unfortunately it’s a little too snug around my hips. Hopefully they’ll get back to Brooks or Nike shirts next year!
The crowd support is usually pretty great for the Cleveland Marathon. There were pockets of support this year but sadly it was raining and overcast which I’m sure kept a lot of people indoors.
I loved the course last year and it seemed almost the same this year with maybe a few changes here and there. I enjoyed running through all the Cleveland neighborhoods and getting out of my home radius!
By the time I finished, the weather cleared up and the post-race atmosphere seemed like a lot of fun. Unfortunately my tummy wasn’t so happy and I was cold so I had to head indoors sooner rather than later!
I’ve obviously alluded to this, but the weather Clevelanded all over us once again this year. Early in the week it said 70s and thunderstorms. Then the day before the race it said 60s and mostly cloudy. Of course, we woke up race morning and it was raining. #facepalm At least it wasn’t cold but it sure wasn’t warm! I’m fairly certain most participants were happy with this weather but I could not have been more unhappy. I’m a hot weather, sunshine kind of runner. Cool rain is not my jam.
2018 Cleveland Half Marathon Race Recap
All right — so that’s the necessary-to-share but less-exciting stuff. Here’s the good stuff: my race recap!
My friend Carole and I planned to run the half marathon together. Neither one of us wanted to overdo it and we both wanted to just chill and have fun. The first few miles weren’t so bad. It was raining, though, and I was kinda cold. Puddles, puddles everywhere. I tossed my throw away hoodie around mile 3. Sadly, I had to stop at one of the first porta-potty stops (thanks, too much coffee) which ate up a bit of time while we waited in line.
I’m pretty sure I started complaining around mile 6. My feet were soaked, I was cranky, my bowels were mad at me, and I was just not feeling this run. I started looking for my very pregnant friend, Julie, and it was really psyching me out. She said she would be somewhere around mile 6.5-7 but when she wasn’t there I started freaking out that she was in labor somewhere in Cleveland.
I checked my phone (which was in a ziplock and not so easy to use) and saw that Julie said closer to mile 7.5. Got to mile 7.5 and still no sign of her. Finally, almost to mile 8, there she was! Phew. I was partly relieved to see her and a little disappointed there was no marathon baby. Haha!
Carole and I pressed on. I pretended to be in really good spirits but it was hard. One of those “fake it til ya make it” moments. But it really wasn’t working so well.
For most of the race I refused to walk unless it was through an aid station, but I think I might have had to walk once or twice in this stretch. I was just glad to be almost done!
Carole and I had discussed running across the finish line hand in hand, Thelma and Louise style. We totally did. It was totally awesome. And I really hope someone got a picture of us! Thank god we were done!!!
I did not have the race of my life this year. Nor was I planning on it. And I really have no reason to be disappointed because I had a lot of things working against me and was just planning on fun-running anyway. But it’s hard to swallow my pride when my finish time was my slowest race time ever. By more than 20 minutes. But things happen and we learn from them and do better.
Finish time: 2:35:20
There were so many things that went wrong leading up to this race. I was on the struggle bus from the beginning.
What went wrong?
I was grossly undertrained. As I mentioned, earlier in the year I was dealing with hamstring tendinitis and the rehabilitation from that, then was hit with illness after illness for two months straight. I was finally feeling a bit confident and really good about the race and then BAM! I got hit with a cold on Thursday.
So not only was I undertrained, now I was sick. Thankfully my cold moved quickly and I was feeling good come race day, but the days leading up to race day I really wasn’t feeling so awesome. My hydration and nutrition suffered which translated into my bowels being a mess on race day. I paid the price for that one for the rest of the day and the following day, too. There was also the huge mistake of drinking too much coffee before the race. All that caffeine certainly didn’t help my GI issue.
I went into the 2018 Cleveland Half Marathon with little planning, lackluster training, and almost completely winging it. I learned my lesson and will never, ever do that again.
What went right!
But every bad experience has a silver lining and this is no different. There were a few things that went right:
The 2018 Cleveland Half Marathon was to be a litmus test of my current fitness and the strength and healing of my hamstring. I literally had no plan except to see how everything felt and I stuck to the plan like a pro. There were moments when I wanted to run faster and race but I kept a low profile and made sure I took it nice and easy. If there’s one thing I’m extremely good at it’s knowing how to control myself during a race. I can fire on all cylinders or hold back when needed. And my hamstring felt pretty good for much of the race! I’ll have to take it nice and slow for marathon training but I’m feeling good with where I’m at right now.
I also got to run with my friend Carole for the entire race. We had so much fun and I’m so grateful for her company for 13.1 miles. We’ve logged many long runs together but there’s something so nice about running in a race with a friend. We stopped and took pictures, kibitzed with friends, and really just had a jolly good time. That part was great!
After the race
After the race we met up with my family and wandered over to the Renaissance hotel where the VIP brunch was being held. Ready for some crazy fun facts?
- The Renaissance is the hotel where my husband and I were married 10 years ago.
- The VIP brunch was in the room we were married in!
- After brunch, as we exited the hotel back to the marathon finish line, we heard our wedding photographer’s name being announced as he crossed the finish line. WHAT ARE THE ODDS?!
It was such a crazy series of coincidences — I couldn’t believe it! I love when life does funny things like that.
Anyways — post-race at the VIP brunch was great. We got to see old friends and new, and then before I knew it it was time to head home.
Before the race
But I didn’t mention the VIP reception yet! Rewind…!
Friday evening was the VIP reception. The evening consisted of eating good food, drinking yummy drinks, and of course, all the photos…
And I finally got to meet Kim from the Kooky Runner in real life! I was so ecstatic to see her and give her the biggest hug ever. We’ve been following each other and “friends” for years but never got to meet in person until now. I love meeting fellow bloggers in the flesh and I hope I get to do more of that this year!
The 2018 Cleveland Half Marathon wasn’t my typical race. I had fun and complained, I tested the strength of my hamstring and overall fitness, and ended up with my worst race time ever. But it’s cool. It was a test and I passed. I learned some hard lessons (i.e. actually train for a race, don’t get sick, focus on hydration and nutrition, don’t drink so much coffee before) and hopefully I won’t make those same mistakes going forward.
THANK YOU to the Cleveland Marathon for giving me this amazing opportunity to rep this iconic race. It’s been an amazing year and though I’m sad it’s over, I’m looking forward to next year already!
Have you ever purposefully run a slow race only to be extremely disappointed in your race time?