38th Annual Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon

Sunday, May 17, 2015
It-doesn’t-matter°F, IT WAS HUMID, 7:00am downtown Cleveland

Can we even begin to explain how exciting this race is? K has been participating in the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon half since 2012, while R ran the 10K last year and decided to amp it up with the half this year. We’ve been thinking about this for a long time and it felt like race day snuck up on us! We’ve been thinking about this for a long time and it felt like race day snuck up on us!

Marathon crowds
Hello, Cleveland!
Marathon start
Getting ready!

7:00am comes quickly on race day for this event–sleeping soundly the night before such excitement is pretty difficult, we can both attest to that. But, thanks to good training, oatmeal, bananas, and plenty of Nooma, we were ready to run! The week leading up to the race was a little stressful because the weather report changed every day. Would it rain? Would it be warm? Would we regret shorts? Those first two certainly happened.

How ominous was that sky as the runners were lining up?!

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SO OMINOUS

Or that flash downpour right before the race started? But, soon things cleared up and the overcast sky made a perfect shield from the hot sun we saw later in the day (any way to avoid running tan lines is welcome). The humidity was the problem, though, and as any runner can attest to, humidity makes it r-o-u-g-h. Clearly, we survived, though.

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Finished!

It was great (as always) to see the community come together. Runners and spectators were all incredibly supportive (shout out to the kind folks with sprinklers and hoses along the way!). Encouraging signs are always appreciated, but HILARIOUS signs are even better! Some of our favorite signs were the Mario mushroom (AND DID YOU GUYS SEE THAT KID?? He had a sign with a button that said “push for power.” K loved it. R pushed it. It worked. POWER.) and “run fast, I farted!”. And can we talk about how inspiring it is to get high fives from complete strangers? It’s surprisingly reassuring to know that people you don’t even know are willing to cheer you on. Or even runners with motivational phrases on the back of their shirts, like “follow me to the beer!”–we love this community!

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Puppy!

And since we’re literally overflowing with thoughts, we’ll let you all in on a couple individual perspectives we had!

R: The morning of the race, I was at the edge of my seat. My heart was racing before I ran a single step. Ernest, K, and Mark (K’s dad) could see this as they came up to meet me on 9th and Prospect. I was pacing around in tiny circles watching all the runners line up in their corrals. I sipped on Nooma, tasted a little GU, tried a few light stretches, and did anything else that made me feel like I was ‘preparing’. I was just so worried about things going wrong, and I had no idea what would!

And weirdly, the weather was something that concerned me, both before the race day, and on the day of.

I tend to over-prepare when it comes to cold runs. I remember last year when I did the 10K, I was pretty chilly in the morning (though it ended up beautiful). I didn’t have to worry about cold this time; it was warm and muggy from sunrise on. And then. At the starting line. Just a few minutes before the start, the rain came.

Nooo! I don’t run in rain! Will I be cold? Will it suck? Is it gonna ruin the whole thing? This unexpected turn did not do well for my nerves when I was already such a wreck (heehee).

And it was kinda cold. And it did kinda suck? Though only for the first few minutes, still before the race had started. Because once it started really coming down, all y’all runners rallied together like you always do. You started cheering. You started yelling. You started taunting the rain itself, in the ‘bring-it-on’ way only us Clevelanders can. It totally changed my mood, and brought me out of my little worries, and back into the great moment I was in.

Now I know better than to worry about a little rain. In fact, there was a small drizzle there at the end, and I welcomed it with open arms. It felt great coming in on those last few (treacherous) miles. Now take it away, K!!

-R

K: Disclaimer: This may start off a little negative or maybe not negative, but at least without the tone that you want in an “I FREAKING LOVE THIS RACE” post–but I just want to be honest. Keep in mind, though, I do love this race and this doesn’t in any way ruin my experience. The good and the bad are all parts of running…anyways…

Those last 3 miles are killer.

I knew that the hills were there–I ran it last year and I got a warning from the pace leaders right before Edgewater. I had prepared myself (maybe not as well as I should have physically, but I thought I had the mental stamina to beat them.) The point is, guys, I knew about the hills. I shouldn’t be mad. But, that didn’t make them any easier and that certainly didn’t make the humidity ease up on us. I had to stop during my last mile. Disappointing and, I’ll admit, a little scary. I was having trouble breathing and one of my knees was on fire.

There were moments when I thought I would end up crossing the finish at a snail’s pace and that didn’t feel good at all. I even texted Ernest about my struggles (during the run!), knowing that he would have some encouraging words for me, but that didn’t seem to ease my physical pain or give me enough mental strength. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but I was crumbling.

I pushed through it. I ran down that blessed hill to the finisher’s corral with tears welling up in my eyes. (Funny–I used to think I would cry from joy during my first half and I didn’t…I was just too stoked–this was my first crying finish.) I knew my feet were swelling and blistering from a puddle (or water cup thrown to my feet or spray from a hose…it doesn’t matter…I have more disgusting pictures for my next race injury collage, my favorite!), I was having trouble catching my breath, and Ernest had just texted me my official time. 1:57:44. I had made my goal (I wanted a sub-2:00 so badly) despite the heartbreak during that last mile. I finished, let all of my complaining and feelings out to my dad and Ernest, then forgot about the trouble during the end of the race. It was a great race! On a great day! Looking back now, I remember that mental struggle vividly, but the physical pain has left my mind. It’s clear how and why we (runners) keep doing this. There’s such a great feeling of accomplishment at the end of any race.The camaraderie of the running community here in Cleveland and the pride you feel when you finish something–especially something you fight for–can’t be beat and that’s why I will run this race until something beyond my control makes me stop.

-K

Keep running, Cleveland!

-K & R

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