Every year, I look forward to Marathon Weekend! It’s practically a holiday in my house, like Christmas, and this was the fifth year I have taken part in the festivities as a Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador. Simply put, being an Ambassador is freaking awesome, and I am beyond grateful for the experience.
The weekend kicked off with the VIP Reception at the Arcade on Friday night after a quick stop at the Expo to pick up packets for Saturday and Sunday’s races. I was happy that although we were there only a short time, I had a chance to swing by Jill and Brian’s booth where they were promoting their books. Yes, everyone, I have not one but TWO Ambassador friends who are badass authors! How sweet is that? You should check them out!
As Ambassadors, we are used to seeing one another in various forms of running/athletic clothing, but damn, do we clean up nicely when the occasions arise!
Plus, Dan and I get a chance to get all fancy for a night. We don’t have an opportunity to do this often.
The food, beverages, and desserts (especially the desserts) were fantastic, but being able to visit with my friends was so much better. We are not just Ambassadors for the Cleveland Marathon; we are a running family. AND families like to celebrate together, so it was extremely fitting Melissa’s boyfriend Chad proposed to her on the steps of the Arcade at the reception with all of us around! It was beautiful, and if anyone deserves to be happy, it’s that girl! She is thoughtful and caring and one of the nicest people I know. I cried it was so wonderful! It was also a special night for Jack Staph, Executive Director for the Marathon and a man who has my utmost respect, as he was given an award by the City of Cleveland that night. Congrats, Jack and Melissa! It was a big night for you and well deserved!
Saturday morning was my first race of the weekend. I use the term loosely because I don’t really race it. I’ve managed to sucker encourage my family into walking the 8K with me as part of the Challenge Series. My parents have been good sports over the years, and my sister Sarah was added to the mix this year. I met them that morning at Public Square, and since Debi was participating in the 8K too, she became an honorary family member that day. I though the plan would be for us all to walk together, but my dad told me he had different plans. See, he had a goal in mind for the 8K, and it involved running! No complaints here! We made our way to the corrals, chatted and posed for pics with my awesome Ambassador peeps, and were ready to race. I will let you know that until you line up at the start with my dad, you will never have any idea how freaking hilarious he can be. Trust me, just try it.
The gun went off, and Dad and I were running through the streets of CLE! Legit running for the first half mile! I was super proud of him.
We walked for a little bit, ran for a little bit, and talked the whole time. I really loved having this experience with my dad because we don’t get as much time together as I would like. We were making really good time as the miles clicked by. I could tell he was getting a little tired, but he kept going. And let me tell you, when we were running, Dad was fast! Like mid-8:00 pace fast, and the guy never freaking runs! As we made our way back toward Public Square, we heard the drum of John Adams and kicked it in gear. We crossed the finish line in 1:00:19! I was beaming, but I know Dad was a little bummed. He really wanted to finish under an hour, but goodness sake, it was a great run! Not too many people can say they are able to finish an 8K (albeit a little short) in an hour, especially if they have not trained for the event. Way to go, Dad!
After we finished and grabbed some goodies, we went back to the finish line to watch Mom, Sarah, and Debi but not before I had a chance to introduce my dad to some of the great CLE Marathon staff who have become my friends over the years. Some awesome people right there! Shortly after we made it to the finish line, we saw the crew power walking their hearts out and cheered! They finished a lot quicker than we expected and were proud of them for completing the course.
After a little finish celebration and pictures, the fam and I went to the Expo for a bit. After they left, I chatted it up with Ryan and Jess (two of my favorite and most-respected runners), shopped the vendors, visited Brian and Jill again, and went back to the room to crash for a bit until Dan was back from work. I knew Sunday was a big day, and I needed all the rest I could get for the marathon. Little did I know it would be bigger than I expected. More of that in Part 2!