I’m a little late getting this post together because I am still reveling in the awesomeness that was my 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon experience! This was my 5th year participating in one of their races and my 3rd CLE full, and all I have to say is this was, by far, the best year ever! You may want to get comfy because this story is gonna take a while, and this is only part 1.
Race weekend started for me last Friday. I was excited to get the party started, so I took the day off from work. This way, Dan and I could hit up the Expo, spend as much time as we wanted checking out the vendors and gathering our packets, and have time to get all fancy for the VIP reception. We made it to the Expo later than planned (my bad – I fell asleep from staying up late the two previous nights), so that kinda thew off our day. The stress of being late was lifted once we hit the I-X Center and saw the signs and banners. Walking into the Expo always pumps me up before a race!
Thankfully, there weren’t many people there, so we were able to quickly and efficiently get our packets and shirts. I even met up with Jen, who helped coordinate the bloggers, and had Dan snap a quick pic. After scooping up our goods, it was shopping time! We picked up the essentials – Honey Stingers; PowerBar performance energy blends or, as I call them, glorified baby food; PowerBars – and the fun stuff, like new clothing. I was a huge fan of the official race apparel this year, and Dan and I both got something! Great job, CLE marathon!
I am a sucker for buying things at the Expo, and I love finding new apparel, fuel, etc. I was drawn in when I saw a new company there called Live Accomplished. The shirts were super cute and just my style, and being the nice boyfriend that he is, Dan bought one for me. The guys working the booth were incredibly friendly and started chatting with us about the race. Turns out, they are a new semi-local company (based out of Columbus and started in their basement), and the one guy just ran the Flying Pig marathon. While talking, I mentioned that I was an official blogger for the race and that I was going to plug them in my post-race blog post. As a thank you, they gave me a Live Accomplished tank for free (which was completely awesome – thanks, guys). I can’t wait to wear my new stuff, and I hope you check out their site and FB page. I guarantee you’ll love it!
The Marathon is gracious enough to invite us bloggers to VIP reception they hold on Friday night before the race. It’s fun to be able to rub elbows with race executives and staff, their family and friends, and some of the elite runners. After the Expo, we stopped home to get changed and made our way to downtown. On our way there, we just couldn’t resist the urge to drive some of the race course, and I’m so glad we did! It was exciting to know that in less than 36 hours, we were going to be running these same roads.
At the Reception, we met up with some of the other bloggers (Joe, Brian, and Renessa) and their guests. I was hoping to be able to meet/see a few of the others, but it didn’t help that we were there
very fashionably late. The reception was held at the Hyatt Regency at the Arcade, and it was beautiful! This was a fun way to take off a little race day pressure and enjoy our night out. Also, it was great being able to see Jack, Joan, and Jen and thank them for all of their work with this year’s race.
The next morning, we took part in the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 5K. The original plan was for my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, and daughter to run/walk that morning, but life happens and only mom and dad were able to make it. However, we had a blast!
My dad was pure comic relief. This was his first 5K, and I was so happy that we could be part of it. From the puzzling looks he gave the girls who were “in a trance” pre-race, to stepping off the race course to look at trees, to his comparison of road races to NASCAR, it was non-stop laughs. The quote of the day came when we were making a turn on the course and he commented that he was “gonna ride the line just like Jeff Gordon!” I was exceptionally proud of him when we got to the finish at Edgewater Park, and he wanted to run. Dad and I finished the race running, and I had a huge smile on my face. After, he said he was tired (and rightfully so because he did about a half mile of running) and that his body was best suited for a beer crawl…that’s my dad!
Saturday was an extremely busy day for us between the 5K, packing for the marathon, and my brother and sister-in-law’s going away party (they are moving near Seattle), so Dan and I were happy to get to the Hyatt at relax. Having a hotel room a few short minutes from the starting line was the best thing ever! This eliminated the need for us to wake up at an ungodly hour, drive to Cleveland, find parking, and wait for the start of the race. This will be a regular things for us from now on. After grabbing some food to take back to the room, we did nothing but relax for the rest of the night and prepare for the big day. There was a lot riding on this race, at least in my eyes. It was Dan’s first full, and I was looking for serious redemption after bombing my last two Cleveland marathons. We needed a great race!