Yesterday was a weird, yet exciting, day. I made the mistake of going to bed past 11 p.m. the night before the race. Race day started with a 2 a.m. wake up from my coughing daughter, Savannah. The poor girl was going through allergies, or just a general illness. Once I got her some water, and applied large amounts of Vicks, I laid in bed and couldn't fall back asleep. Race excitement? Too hot upstairs? Still hearing Sav cough? Could be any of those reasons, or a combination of all three. When I wake up in the middle of the night, and have a lot on my mind, I just kind of lay there and stare at the alarm clock. After a good thirty minutes I had an idea! I got up, and turned on the fan in our room. This got rid of the hot upstairs and hearing coughing. With only an hour and fifteen minutes left till go time I headed back into the land of slumber. Or so I thought.
I heard something over the fan noise. A little boom. I thought it was just something falling off of one of the girl's beds. A minute or two later I felt the need to investigate. I made my way to the door to check and see if the girl's door was still closed. As I swing the door open I look down and see Savannah. She was RIGHT in front of the doorway. Scared the crap out of me. My first reaction was to hit the deck. In a half sleeping/half awake daze I hear my wife laughing. Looking back on it now I don't feel like I could adequately protect my family against a burglar if that is my natural reaction, to a 3 year old...
Needless to say I was not going back to sleep. With all of my race gear ready to go the night before, I came downstairs and got ready. I'm glad that I take the time to get ready beforehand because I still had a little mini panic session. For me, race preparation is a little OCD. My race inventory was checked and double checked. All ready to go. My breakfast consisted of a cool mint chocolate Clif bar and a low-calorie, purple, Gatorade G2. Time to hit the road.
Departure time was a little past 4 a.m., because it takes an hour to get to the Cleve. I made my way up 77 and there is nothing to report on the trip. Aside from starting to get tired. Aimee made an observation a couple weeks ago that I will rub my knee, arm, neck, or really any part of me, when I'm tired. Nearing Cleveland I noticed I was rubbing my leg. This realization shocked me awake. It's hard to run a race when you get in an accident from falling asleep at the wheel.
Arriving downtown, I got on 90 to exit near the rock hall. Captain America had other plans for me. They're filming the new CA movie in Cleveland so they shut the exit down that I wanted to take (even though they aren't filming on that stretch of highway till May 30). Luckily there was someone in front of me with a 26.2 sticker, so I blindly followed them.
This "Cleveland Experience" was a weird one. I've always done big city races with someone there accompanying me in my journey. I was flying solo. You don't realize how important it is having someone there with you, even doing the most mundane of actions, like walking to the stadium. I missed not having my wife with me. The time alone (surrounded by 20k other people) was an odd feeling. I made my way to the 9:30 corral and waited for the race to begin. Because of the extra fluids of the past days I went to the bathroom a couple times and still felt like I had to go as the race was about to begin. This caused flashbacks of two years ago when I stopped to go, during the race, and couldn't run anymore. Instead of rushing to get in the bathroom lines I held it in. For 13.1 miles..
The loud speakers didn't reach too far back so I had no idea the race had started. Luckily there is a solid 7 minutes of walking before you reach the starting line. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I did not have a training plan for this race. I followed somewhat of a plan for my first triathlon and just extended the training into May, aside from adding two longer runs of 8 and 10 miles. I didn't have much confidence as I started running. Chalk it up to nerves.
My lack of confidence turned to optimism as I passed the first mile marker. In my head I was thinking "Wow! Already a mile in. I feel great!". The miles were just chipping away. Optimism would be important because I was feeling some foot pain from the start of the race. It came and went throughout but never hurt enough to slow me down. At four or five miles in I noticed how close everyone was to each other. Also, I didn't want to think of my pace so I tried my best to not look at the clocks at each mile marker. This was to enhance the enjoyment of the experience.
In most races you can shake out of a group within a couple miles but today was a little more crowded than I remember. Because of this, and people not starting in the proper pace area, I was doing my best Patches O'Hoolihan impersonation with my dodging, ducking, dipping, diving, and dodging of other runners as I passed. As I reached mile nine the clouds made way for sun. The sun reminded me that I forgot to apply sunscreen. D'oh! Luckily a woman threw an over half full water cup on the ground and got me soaked. Thank you..
Throughout the run my breathing was great. Cardio would not be a problem. Mile ten, before heading back into downtown, was when I started to feel my legs tiring. At this point in the race we head up the bridge towards the Jake and the Q. Usually hills are my strong suit but my body didn't want to push it up this final climb. I didn't stop to walk but I didn't put forth much effort to fly up the hill. The crowds built up as we headed downtown. One of the supervisors at my place of employment was there to cheer on a friend and I saw her at mile 12. Pleasant surprise seeing someone you know in all the crowds.
Right after mile 12 is the turn for the full marathoners. I was extremely excited that I was only running 13.1. For the first time in the race, I looked down at my legs and I had actually created soap suds from all my sweating (combined with the swishing of the legs). Some call it disgusting. I wear it like a badge of honor. My joy switched back to pain when the back of my knee started stinging. I was less than a mile to the finish. No plans of stopping now..
I made my way to east 9th and it was a downhill to the rock hall. Unlike the other downhills prior, I kept my eyes open and gave as many high fives as I could. No zen running at the finish. I turned the final corner and there was the finish. It was just over 2:09 (gun time). I now had a mission to beat 2:10. I knew I ran a good race when I couldn't belt out a last minute sprint. My body had run the course very well. I was able to cross right as it hit 2:10. The excitement of finishing created a celebratory fist pump. Now where's my chocolate milk...
Side-note: When I got home I checked my official time. 2:03:49. New PR for the half marathon. Beating my best by 17 minutes, and over 20 minutes faster than my first attempt at the Cleveland 13.1. Ka chow!
I'll spare the details about leaving the race and the drive home. I will, however, share a picture that I sent my wife.
|The face of a PR (That's my running hat on my head, not a weird hair-do)|
-I won't go to a big race alone. All the excitement of a PR doesn't beat the feeling of sharing it with someone you love.
-I will not run the Cleveland race again for the next few years, as it falls on my wife's birthday weekend. I signed up for this race because I love the city, and I think that was why I was selected to blog for it too. I just don't want it getting in the way of time with my family on an important weekend. Looking at the calendar, if CLE keeps the race on the third weekend of the month I may be able to do the race again in 2021...
-Aside from the Saturday Team Active:Water Run I am going to take a few weeks off from running to let my feet completely heel. I REALLY don't want planters fasciitis.
-When I blog I usually get the title of the post done first. I couldn't think of one so I thought it would come to me while writing the post. As you can tell, it did not. **Update** I thought of one :)
When I got home I called Savannah over and I put the medal on her. She was elated! She then said "When I get bigger, I'll run and get you a medal, Daddy"...
Hearing that was better than any race finish or PR I could ever run...