Welcome to the continuation of my trip to the past, covering one of my first races and first half marathon. Now, where were we?
Ah yes! I left the bib pick up area with my race shirt, bib, and a goodie bag. I don't run races for the SWAG but this bag was for a woman. I'm sure of it. Inside was a thin elastic workout headband and women's antiperspirant. The only other item I remember was a Reese cup.
Aimee, Savannah, and me made our way to the expo booths, our youngest, Addison, was in my wife at this time. The expo was not nearly as exciting as I thought it would be. This would be a recurring theme in my race life. Unless you have money to buy equipment the expo is close to useless. Yeah. I said it! There were some highlights though. My wife and I won a minute rice spatula and a small measuring tool (which I still use to this day).
We live an hour away from Cleveland, so driving to the expo took longer than us being in the expo. Back home we went. That night I took a picture of my bib. This would turn into a routine for all my big races, and some of the smaller ones.
Saturday morning I woke up and headed to drill. I don't remember much of this day so I won't dwell on it. That may be because I try to wipe some of these weekends out of my brain completely. I did not pass my PT test. I did not tank the test because of the race coming the next morning. My run portion was much slower than normal though. If you don't know anything about the Army PT test than I will let you know that if you fail one of the three assessments (push ups, sit ups, and run) you fail the whole thing. While I don't remember how I did on the two first events of the morning I would put money on it being the push up event that I failed. You see, my arms are long and have no visible muscles.
The company was on a local school's track for the run portion of the test. While making my laps I noticed my team leader giving me a look. THE look. The "what the heck are you doing?" look. Later he approached me about my test failure and brought up how slow I was running. He was right. I'm not the fastest of runners (even going a little slower on the test wasn't far away from my pace at the time). Most of the day is a blur to me so let's get to the good stuff. Race day!!
It was an early chilly morning. Driving up route 77 to the Cleve is a familiar route to me. It reminds me of trips as a kid to go and see my family, who all call Cleveland home. This morning it was a bit different. There was anticipation and nervousness flowing through me as I drove. Aimee was more than likely sleeping. The highway was barren, which is usually the case pre-sun up on a Sunday morning.
The race would start next to a bitter sweet place for me, Cleveland Browns Stadium. I say bitter sweet because I'm a Cleveland fan, no need for any further explanation.
While we were sitting there it was interesting watching and listening to people. There was a couple minimalist foot shaped shoe enthusiasts next to us going over all the benefits of being a minimalist runner, which I think is their mating call. All of the people stretching and race prepping is interesting to me. My lack of race prep should have alarmed me (in the following years my pre run prep eventually vanished. I don't even stretch anymore. I'm not saying that as me being tough or cool, if anything I should probably start again....)
It was time to head to the starting line. I kissed my wife, prayed with her, and found my place in the crowd. Full disclosure: I cried a little bit during the Star Spangled Banner. Something about that song always gets to me. That is a whole 'nother post topic in and of itself.
The Cavs on court guy Ahmad was there to pump the crowd up and gosh darnit does he know how to get people psyched up. It was time to run!
There was no strategy for the race. My eyes were set on finishing. Leading up to race day I did not run a single double digit run and it was my first big race. A mile in we were heading up onto an expressway and someone fell in my proximity. It happened so fast and I didn't go to help. In hindsight I wish I would have, because A. it's the nice thing to do and B. I still think about that person falling from time to time and how I should have helped. Hopefully there isn't a next time for that but if there is the race time doesn't matter. Help each other out!
The race route was predominantly in the surrounding Cleveland neighborhoods. The race forecast was in the 50s with light rain but this didn't stop people from cheering in their yards, and on the course itself.
I chugged along pretty good for over half the race. At mile 8 I stopped to use the restroom. This would prove to be my demise because when I got back onto the course my body wasn't having it, which is a shame because the second half was the best half. In the second half I passed Sokolowski's restaurant. My grandpa and dad would take me there multiple times. It's a cafeteria style restaurant serving the best central-eastern European food you can find in the states. Pierogis the size of your head. Maybe not my head, but someone's... It was in front of Sokolowski's that I stopped and removed the wrap from my ankle. It had started digging into my foot again, so I took the shin pain over the cutting pain.
The course took me up the Carnegie bridge, which comes out right in front of Jacobs Field and the Q. Here are some pics for your viewing pleasure:
|The view when you get off the bridge. Beautiful. Just beautiful...|
The remaining few miles would serpentine through downtown. At this point it was a combination of running and fast walking. My shin was in a good amount of pain. The more denser the crowds, the more I would run. Call it peer pressure, I guess. At this point I wanted the race to be done. It was also the place where energy came back to me. I turned a corner I heard an all too familiar drumming. If you have been to a Cleveland Indians game you know the drumming.
John Adams sets himself up at the last turn of the race, where it is much needed. Once I turned I saw the finish. Off I went. WARNING: Picture of me running ahead...
Still with me? I can explain how I felt reaching the finish or show more pictures but I think this video sums it up best...
I was done. Pooped if you will. Once I hit the finish line I did just that, finished. I didn't run through or anything. I then proceeded to chug chocolate milk with reckless abandon.
As you all know this was not my last race. If you're an endurance runner you know that within an hour after finishing a race you're either A. done with running forever or B. itching to scope out your next race.
My Cleveland experience was great in some ways, and not so great in others. With less than a month till the next installment of the Cleveland Experience, I am ready to go. While my memories of my first half marathon will never go away, I am hoping this time around is even more memorable.
Thanks for reading...
Do you have any fond memories from your first race?