The Cleveland RiteAid Marathon fell on the Victoria day weekend for Canadians, meaning Hubs and I had the Monday off work, so it was the perfect opportunity to escape for a marathon holiday. This was my first time running this course, but Hubs had ran this last year as part of his 5 marathons in 5 weeks series. He was in the promo pamphlet this year carrying his guitar across the finish line. What a ham!
I packed everything meticulously the Friday night, and we left our house a little after 7 am the following morning. Hubs nephew, Scott came with us, so it was nice to have some family along for the ride and marathon adventure. We were also meeting some good running friends down in Cleveland for a pre and post marathon feast!
Our drive went really smoothly and it wasn't until the we arrived at the hotel a little after 1:00 that I realized I left my marathon bag at home!!
My immediate response to Hubs was that "I can't run this". OK, I will confess that a small part of me felt uninspired to run the marathon. Cleveland didn't particularly excite me, and having run Mississauga only one week ago, I didn't feel fully recovered. Hubs insisted that I run it, and suggested that if my new shoes didn't work (yes I had to buy brand new shoes), I could always just run the half since the course is basically a bow tie. Plus, I had already paid my registration fee.
So off to the expo we went to shop. Normally I love shopping for running clothes, but I felt under pressure to get, well, everything. I went straight for a shoes booth and managed to score a pair of Asics Gel Kayanos 14 for 107$. I normally wear Saucony Paramounts, but I have worn Kayanos in the past, so I thought they would work. I also bought shorts, sports bra, gels, salt tablets, socks and a hand-held water. I tried to make decisions quick, but it seemed to take a long time, and it was rather exhausting! I felt like I kept handing over my credit card again and again, starting from scratch sure is expensive!! I wore the Cleveland shirt they gave out at the expo so at least I didn't have purchase that. Oh well, at least I will use the items I purchased, and for the most part they worked out fine (more on that later).
For dinner we met up with our friends and drove to Little Italy area of Cleveland to a whole-in -the-wall type restaurant called Mama Santa. Although we had to wait in line for over an hour, the food was delicious, and it was wonderful to relax with friends before the marathon.
(Photo: Rob Patterson)
Hubs and I at Mama Santas
(Photo: Rob Patterson)
(I had issues with my eyes squinting that night, this was the third attempt to get me to take a picture without my eyes closing!! LOL)
Marathon morning was one of the least stressful I have ever experienced due to the location of our hotel. We stayed at theCrowne Plaza which was right by the start line, so that meant we could relax in our hotel room until right before the start, and better yet, no porta potties!! I had scored the hotel on Priceline for 90$ and we even had a view of Lake Erie!
The only problem with race morning was that I was wearing my new Garmin 405 so I had a steep learning curve. It was lucky I had it actually. I put it on my wrist so I could tinker and learn more about how to operate it on the car ride down to Cleveland. I didn't give myself enough time to properly load the satellites at the start, but after getting started it worked out fine.
Starting out, I felt tired and well, not ready to run a marathon. I felt like everyone and their Grandmother was passing me, so it was kinda of defeating. I probably lined up too close to the start, but I saw the 3:50 bunny and standing right behind was the 4:15 bunny, so that where I lined up. I had no plans for running a PR, I just wanted to finish.
After the first few miles, though, I found my pace group and I started to warm up. I was really enjoying the course. There were a few minor hills, but we were running through some really pretty tree-lined streets and nice neighbourhoods and I just felt myself relax. At each aid station they played music from the Rock and Roll Hall of fame inductees, which was a nice touch. There were a fair number of spectators out too, which is always nice.
Past mile 10 we headed onto to a closed highway and toward the downtown core. What an amazing site. The lake was on the right, and cityscape was before us. It was stunning. I know stunning is not a word typically used to to describe Cleveland, but from this perspective, it was, and I felt like I was able to experience and appreciate the city in a way I am sure I wouldn't have as a typical tourist or business person. I felt strong but kept running conservatively. I wanted to feel good throughout the run this time. My knee also was fine this week, it had really bothered me the week before at Mississauga.
At mile 12, the half marathoners veered off and we headed away from the downtown core in the opposite direction. We travelled along a flat stretch by the Airport. I had my ipod on, and found myself lost in classic rock tunes from Queen and Fleetwood Mac, which is different then the typical pop fare I listen to. In fact at mile 13 an element song came on. This song is only a minute long and the singer repeats every element on the periodic table in less than two minutes. I play this for my students when we are studying elements. Anyway, I was about to switch the song, when I ran past the science center. How appropriate. Anyway it made me smile and I listen to the song with a huge grin on my face (I am a total science nerd) and before I knew it I was at mile 15 and feeling great.
Miles 15 to 18 we travelled along the lake and although it was slightly windy, I found the temperature to be perfect, and the breeze felt good.
It really wasn't until mile 21 that I started to really feel tired. We could see the amazing cityscape again, although it felt a bit like a mirage that I would never reach. I ran into the finish line feeling strong and overall the marathon felt pretty effortless. Well maybe not effortless, but relative to the week before, much easier, and I ran 10 minutes faster.
At first my time was posted to be 4:13:47, but there was a clock error and they added a minute to all of the time, so final time was 4:14:47. Not a PR, but my second fastest marathon to date. Thats right, my two fastest time have both been my second back-to-back marathon. Weird, huh?!
I recommend this marathon. Its a fairly easy course, and the scenery is really nice. Plus you can go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame afterwards!
Good luck to all you SD marathoners this weekend. I am running a half marathon (just for fun, no gunning for a PR), and then the following weekend I am running the Sunburst Indiana marathon. I also need to write a race report for Burlington, and I will soon, I promise. I hope to catch up with you all soon! Thanks for reading!