I’m so very pleased to share some great news with you – I was welcomed back as a Race Ambassador for the 2015 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon! I know I have written posts about other races, but in my opinion, nothing tops this race for me. It is near and dear to my heart, and I am proud and humbled that they have invited me back for a third year. Yes, you read that correctly; I have been an official blogger/race ambassador for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon for the past three years. How has the time gone by so quickly?!
I’m also happy to say that this will be fifth year running a Cleveland Marathon event, and I have participated in every capacity (5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon). I kicked off my CLE journey in 2009 with little more than two months of running under my belt when I signed up to run the 10K a few days before the start. I was nervous and scared but confident that I could not only finish but run the entire distance. I crossed that finish line, and I was beaming! I did it! This race was the one that really started my whole love of distance running.
Not quite sure what happened in 2010, but I didn’t run. Things were a hot mess for me personally, and my guess is I was just too busy getting my life together to train. Running and I took a little hiatus, and I remember how painful it was to get back in the habit. I vowed I wouldn’t let myself take that much time off again unless it was absolutely necessary. As any runner knows, getting back into it is just about as bad as it gets – tired, heavy legs; erratic breathing; clumsy gait; no endurance. Back to square one!
Thankfully, I got myself together, and in 2011, I took the real distance plunge and signed up for the half marathon. On race day, it was cool with a slight drizzle, but I wasn’t deterred. I was slow but steady along the course, and I remember bursting into tears after I passed the 10-mile marker. That marker signified the longest distance I had ever run in my life! And then I remember coming over the bridge into the city and smiling like a crazy woman. I had done it! I ran a half marathon!
2012 and 2013 were disasters for me in terms of races. Both times I ran the full marathon, and both times, I felt as though I failed. 2012 was marred with injuries that forced me to pretty much abandon training a month before the race. I had hoped the time off would give me a chance to heal and rest while the training I put in before the injury would carry me through the race. Sadly, I was wrong. A combination of pain, heat, and more bathroom trips that I can remember forced me to stop running at the half, and for the rest of the race I alternated between very short spurts of running and long stretched of walking. But, I finished and was eager to try again. In 2013 I was better trained and injury-free! How could I not kick ass? As luck would have it, race day was again ridiculously hot, and it got to me. Leg cramps forced me to walk and even stop completely at some points along the course. Again, the dreaded bathroom stops did me in, but thankfully, it wasn’t until mile 17 or 18. The race I had trained so hard for slipped away quickly as I was forced to muscle through the remaining miles with a walk-run strategy. WAS I EVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO FREAKING RUN A MARATHON?!
Instead of quitting, I trained harder. I used the failure and disappointment of fuel my running. By the time fall 2013 ended, I completed another 4 half marathons (all within one month) and was ripping off times that I never thought possible in training runs and shorter races. I was ready for 2014!
The day before the big race in 2014, my parents joined me for the 5K. Although they are not runners, they like to be active. They also like to support their children, and with me being an official blogger, they signed up (thanks, mom and dad!). We walked and chatted and laughed, and I must add that my dad even ran some of the course with me. In short, my parents are awesome.
The 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon was a turning point for me with running because everything finally came together. I was well-trained, injury-free, and CONFIDENT. It also helped that I had a very motivating running partner/boyfriend there with me. Mile by mile, we completed the race that brought us together in the first place. The excitement got to me around mile 20-21, and I started celebrating early, much to Dan’s chagrin. I think I had just a little too much energy that far into the race. A few miles later, we were crossing the finish line – Dan with his first marathon finish and me with a shiny new PR for marathon number 5!
That brings me to 2015. I’m again planning to run the full marathon in Cleveland, and I will just get this out there now – I won’t be satisfied if I don’t set a substantial PR! To me, a marathon is like running crack, and I’m an addict. The training is hard, the distance is far, the body is tortured, and I LOVE it! Marathons really show a person what he or she is made of, and the experience is rewarding and unlike any other. As a Race Ambassador, I want to share my marathon training experience with you – the good, the bad, and the very ugly – because it happens to all of us. There will be runs that I crush, and there will be ones that make me question why I even run in the first place; however, all of that is what makes us runners and binds us.
Good luck, runners, and I wish you the best on your training endeavors. Whether you are training for your first Rite Aid Cleveland 10K or your twentieth marathon, we are all in this together and we are all part of this great thing called the “Cleveland Experience!”
Lastly, thank you again, Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, for seeing something in my personal story that makes it worthy of sharing with others and for allowing me to represent this great race. I won’t let you down.
SOUND OFF! What Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race are you running in 2015? If you are not running CLE, what big race do you have planned?