My training and motivation have been in the pits lately, I’m over 100 miles behind on my target miles for 2,015 miles in 2015, and I just generally don’t want to be out there. I have some REALLY big ultra marathon races coming up that I need to be REALLY spending time on feet for. The Cleveland Marathon is supposed to help me in the motivation department by being a short term goal.
Now, because my training has been poor, I had no plans on breaking the sub-4 hour wall. I figured if I broke my PR of 4 hours 19 minutes I’d be really happy, and satisfied with breaking 4.5 hours. Ha! How many of you runners have walked into a race with that mindset? “Okay, I’m not gonna race this really hard.” Famous last words…
We arrived in Cleveland Saturday. My Zanesville running mates Bob, Jim and Bill were all entered in the half-marathon, Bill wanting to break 1:30 with a current PR of 1:34. Must be nice to still be that young *lol*. RoseMary and I had a fun afternoon checking in at the race expo and spending time at the Cleveland Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, looking at all the guitars and outfits, watching a film of concert clips of inductees and generally having a good laugh. The 5 of us all got together for dinner although only three of us ate due to the weird schedules of driving to Cleveland. I slept well and didn’t forget anything, which is always good.
The morning arrives, we drive downtown and get nice and close parking. I picked up a yogurt, orange juice and a banana from the hotel lobby. We walk to the starting line and I start looking for a water source to fill my hydration pack for my Tailwind. None to be found. I headed into the sports arena with a bunch of runners who were looking for toilets but all we found were dead ends. Hmmm, I might have to run the first few miles dry and fill up at the first aid station. No, wait, here’s another opening into the stadium and toilets and water fountains abound. Whew.
There were apparently 20,000 people taking part in the races today. That’s a whole lot of folks. I was in D corral with the 4-4.5 hour runners, right where I should be. I fidgeted around in the crowd waiting for the start, there was a very nice rendition of the Star Spangled Banner sang, the gun went off, and I shuffled for three minutes until we crossed the starting line and were able to break into a trot.
It was a well organised race, some nice suburban scenery along the way. Not very hilly (although looking back at the data there appears to be some hill in the middle I don’t really remember). Funny thing, Strava.com reported my total elevation as 2,850′ (869 meters). It certainly didn’t seem that hilly to me, so checking with MovesCount.com, it showed 1,644′ of elevation (501 meters). Going back to Strava and poking around I find a way for Strava to recalculate based on the barometric readings of my Ambit3, and it comes back and says “So sorry I was wrong the first time, it’s actually 607′ (185 meters)”. So take your pick
I was feeling really good and figured I’d hang around the 9 minute mile mark (about 5:30/km). After a few miles I caught up to the 4 hour pacer group and ran with them a bit only to leave them behind at an aid station. Hey! Maybe I’ll break four hours after all! The first 10k were spot on at 9:07/mile (9:09/mile will get you 4 hours). For some reason I started picking up speed after that. Between 10k and 13.1 miles (half marathon) I averaged 8:57/mile with an overall average of 9:01/mile. That doesn’t sound like a lot of difference, but it can be, although perhaps what happened later was inevitable either way.
Around mile 16 the wheels started to wobble. I dropped into a walk/run and my times started decreasing. I passed the time doing the math in my head of what I needed to still PR and it was looking good.
Then came the glitch.
The last three miles of the race were on Interstate 2. Three miles of steady uphill (except, of course, for the odd level patch that looked like the top of the hill until you got there and saw even more hill beyond). Four lanes wide of hot, uphill cement. It was hell. Depending on who you speak to, I was either dancing to the YMCA song to keep my spirits up or suffering heat stroke. Me, I’ll go for the optimists dance. (And it obviously amused the photographers, lol)
I had picked up a young lady named Stephanie who had just finished medical school and was running her first marathon. She was walking and looking sore and sad. By trying to motivate her, I forced myself into a position of having to push myself as well. We were aiming for that 4:15. Ah the vagaries of youth, with only a mile left to go she leaves me in the dust. Kids these days *shaking my head*. I ran the final 3/4 mile with an increase in speed that only somebody who has run that far and hurts that much can understand. A triumphant sprint across the finish line at a clock time of 4:25:20 and a net time of 4:22:36 line to line, 24 seconds slower than my PR net time. Strava trimmed down my time to an even 26.2 (I registered 26.5 miles which is probably one of the closest I’ve ever had) at 4:20:09, less than a minute over my PR.
So my overall findings…. The race was well presented and organised. There was music every couple of miles blasting from speakers, as befitting the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The swag was good, although as usual I didn’t participate in the after party which was supposed to be rockin’. The only part of the course I disliked was the last 3 uphill miles of interstate, but from speaking to others who have run the race before on the old route, it was a small trade-off for not having to run through the concrete jungles of East Cleveland.
Training: Poor. A lack of motivation and the poor training showed in my crash and burn at the end. I also can blame that on trying to maintain too fast a pace.
Health: No blisters or toenail issues. No chafing thanks to liberal applications of run goo all over my body.
Nutrition/Hydration: Once again I relied solely on Tailwind and it didn’t let me down. No hunger/cramps/wall/stomach issues. I can’t praise this stuff enough.
Would I run it again? Definitely. It’s a fast, fun course if only I’d been in a position to take advantage of that.
Next up, my first 50 mile trail race. GULP!