2016 was my 5th year running the Cleveland 10 miler and I can confidently say this is in my top 3 races. I just adore everything about this race. From the camaraderie among the runners, the fact that it’s perfect for Cleveland marathon training, and the fantastic t-shirts, to the unpredictable weather, the tough parts of the course, and the mental struggle of the distance, I love it all. I think that because I started running this race the same year I started running the marathon, which was my first experience with distance running, this is a really personal race for me. I cherish waking up early, getting ready mentally and physically, and driving to Edgewater with only my thoughts and excitement as company. It’s kind of a ritual I go through every April now.
Saturday was pretty chilly to start, but as we got running, the temperature was actually perfect for a race. My body temp stayed manageable and I wasn’t a sweaty icicle or puddle by the time I hit lower Edgewater for the final intense mile. I really love running through those tunnels in Edgewater and hearing the hoots and hollers from the runners, knowing the finish is close. (Except this year I heard a massive burp and spit echo through the tunnels…gag.) But, once you get through those tunnels, you know that lower Edgewater is up ahead and that means lake wind. Serious. Lake. Wind. I cranked through it all and immediately took my chocolate milk, water, and medal to my car before the cool down chills set in. There, I relived moments of the course and realized that this is one of the best races of the year because I make memories every time I run it. I can remember rounding corners in Lakewood and avoiding cars parked on the side of the road in a complete blizzard the first year I ran the 10 miler. I can also remember the shock of running a PR last year and trying to figure out what even happened (!). And next year I might remember the moment when I picked up a vanilla energy gel instead of a berry one this time around and had to suffer through that sugary nastiness. Sheesh.
Another reason I really like this race is the balance between challenge and simply running as part of my training. It adds a little something to a day that I would have had a scheduled long run anyways and really gets me out of the training funk if I’m starting to burn out. For the past two years, I’ve managed PRs during the 10 miler, which is so awesome, but it’s also really encouraging for the marathon. It makes me a little more confident in myself 3 weeks away from the marathon, which is right around when I start to get a little anxious and nervy.
Overall, the 2016 10 miler was a great one. I couldn’t have asked for a better race day.