I am beyond excited to write this recap. Why, you ask? Because I seriously crushed my PR that I set a week ago! More on that later. Now here’s my recap for the Northern Ohio Half Marathon.
I originally didn’t have this race on my calendar. I didn’t even know about it until I ran the Downtown Willoughby 5K and saw the flyer in my race bag. I kicked around the idea of running it, but since I had the kids that weekend, I just decided it would probably not work. Then it got closer to race day, and I really wanted to run this race. I asked my family for help with the kiddles, and when they agreed to watch them, I signed up. This half marathon was conveniently sandwiched in between the Rock ‘n’ Roll Cleveland Half Marathon and the Columbus Marathon.
The day before the race the kiddles and I headed to Tripoint Medical Center in Concord Township for packet pickup. There was also the option to pick up packets on the day of the race, but I didn’t want to deal with the extra stress. The kids were surprisingly well behaved. It didn’t hurt that they were giving out free samples of Clif bars, which kept them occupied.
That night I was praying that my kids would go to sleep early and let me get some rest. We stayed at my parents’ house, and when they have sleepovers, they usually want to stay up and watch movies and eat copious amounts of snacks. Thankfully, they were all pretty tired out and went to sleep relatively early. I crashed on the couch, so I wouldn’t wake anyone in the morning. The last thing I wanted was for the kiddles to be up at 4:30 am.
On race morning it was business as usual for me. I got up, got ready, ate breakfast, and was out the door a little after 6:00 am. I was stressing a little about my clothing selection. I had been scoping the weather all week, and it was calling for 50s. I made the mistake of not checking the morning before the race and packed my pink and purple Under Armour cold gear top. I was so worried I was going to sweat to death during the race, but I tried to remember what Raymond told me the night before when I was
complaining commenting on the weather – no sense worrying about it and just deal with it because you have trained in various conditions.
I had no problems getting into Fairport Harbor and even snagged a great parking spot at the beach. I walked around the starting area for a bit, made one more bathroom stop, and started stretching. I still had plenty of time before the race and slowly made my way to the starting line. On the way there I saw my dentist, who was running the full marathon. How cool is that? How many people can say their dentist is a marathoner?! We chatted a bit about running, racing, our families, and expectations for the race. Then it was time to take our places, so we wished each other good luck and set out for the start.
The announcer gave the go-ahead, and we were off! I made sure I picked an upbeat, faster song for the start (“Kiss You” by One Direction – highly recommend it!) because my plan was to go out a little faster and then drop back after the first 5K. I don’t know what it was about this race day, but I felt amazing! The first mile zipped by, and I wasn’t even breathing hard or breaking a sweat. I also didn’t have a problem getting into a steady, comfortable pace like I did the week before. Everything just seemed effortless. During the first few miles I was happy to spot a childhood friend there with her children and parents. Her husband was running his first marathon post-children, and they were there to cheer him on. I was happy for their cheers as I passed by, too! (Thanks, Katie and fam!)
I made it past the first 3 miles and was surprised that I still felt strong despite going faster and having hills on the course. I changed my race plan at that point and said I would hold my current pace (between an 8:57 and a 9:05 minute/mile) for as long as I could before slowing down. The course continued along some pretty roadways, the marshes, and through Headlands Beach, and my pace was still holding steady. I was at mile 8 at this point. “How is this possible?!”, I kept asking myself as I moved forward. At the Rock ‘n’ Roll half the weekend before, I felt like I put everything I had into the race and finished with a 9:28 minute/mile pace. It didn’t seen right that I was so much quicker only a week later.
I kept checking my watch throughout the whole race because even though I didn’t tell anyone, I was secretly hoping for a sub-2 hour half. What started as wishful thinking when I left the starting line didn’t seem so impossible after the first 5 or so miles. When I was at miles 8 and 9, I was thinking that my goal could become a reality. When I hit mile 10, I looked at my watch and saw I was at 1 hour and 25 minutes. That meant I had 35 minutes to run a 5K. Holy crap! I was going to do it! I smiled and did a little fist pump in the air as I pressed forward. That realization gave me a little spring in my step, and as others were fading on the course, I was flying (or at least I felt like I was). It also helped that “Somebody’s Hero” by Jamie O’Neal came on. That song always makes me think of my grandma.
After a couple more hills, I made it to the last long stretch of the race that would eventually bring me to the finish. I saw people walking, but it didn’t deter me. When I passed the 12 mile sign, I shouted, “Only 1 more left!” I’m not going to lie; the last mile felt a little long, probably because I was anxious to finish and see my family. This was the first race where all 4 of the kiddles would be there to see me finish, and it would be the first run that my dad was able to see. I made the very last turn and could see the finish line in the distance.
As I was coming down the finish, I kept looking left and right for my family. Then I spotted them on the right side of the course about 100 yards from the finish line, and I started crying. My personal cheering section was huge! (my mom and dad, Alexandra, Adrianna, Cole, and Cael, and my sister Sarah and her daughter Sophia). They saw me, too, and erupted in cheers.
My kids all were hold handmade signs and jumping and yelling as I passed. “Sprint, mommy, sprint!” And I did. I put every last bit of energy I had into that run and did a full-out sprint to the finish line, throwing my arms up in victory after I crossed. I stopped my watch and looked at the time – 1 hour 58 minutes 30 second. My wish for a sub-2 hour half marathon was now a reality. Super duper PR party for me! I crushed my previous PR that I set the weekend before by just shy of 5 minutes 30 seconds, which worked out to being 25 seconds faster per mile. My pave was 9:03 minutes/mile.
I collected my medal and made my way to the right of the course to meet my family. My kids ran up to me and hugged me, and I started crying again. I was so pleased with my accomplishment and so happy they were there for it. “Ooh, mommy, did you win?”, said one of the boys. “Yeah, baby, I won.”
Thank you, Lake Health Running Series, for a wonderful race! I loved all of the work you put into making this a great event, and you did Lake County proud! I’m already looking forward to next year’s race. P.S. If you have any of the pullovers left in a women’s small, give me a holler! I was bummed that I missed out on one.