If you’re like me and counting down the weeks until we run CLE, you’ll know that we are just about 7 weeks from the big day! The time is flying by, and race day will be here before we know it. At least we are finally moving from winter to spring and getting some nice weather for outdoor training. I’m pretty much over the treadmill.
Over the last two or so weeks, I started thinking about my experience with the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. It goes deeper than the 5 years I have been an ambassador. Here’s a little Cleveland Marathon by the numbers.
2009: This was the first year I participated in a RACM event. I was fresh into running, having just started in February, and wanted to dip my toes into something besides a 5K. A friend at the time was running the half, so I tagged along with her to run the 10K. I felt nervous and out of place around all of these people who looked like “real runners.” That feeling went away quickly after I started running and kept receiving words of encouragement from the participants and crowd alike. I crossed the finish line in 1:02:08. This race lit a fire under my butt to run longer.
2010: To date, this is the only year I have not participated in some fashion. Personal life got in the way, and I actually took a break from running.
2011: My very first half marathon, a running milestone! This was also one of the first races where I felt confident in my training. I was by no means fast, but I was consistent and ready. I had a feeling of euphoria when I hit the 11.5 mile mark with not having run anything farther than that before. It was like venturing into uncharted territory. My legs felt great, I wasn’t tired, and I didn’t have to walk. The only thing that took away from my happiness was a dreaded bathroom break around mile 12. I should have known this was a foreshadowing of things to come in CLE. Finish time – 2:17:45
2012: This was the year I ran my very first Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon! (I completed my first marathon in Honolulu in December 2011) I won a free race entry from Jessica McCartney, and I thought, “What the hell?!” With a free entry I might as well go big. I had some IT band and knee issues during training that set me back a bit, but I felt like I was up for the challenge of 26.2 miles. Unfortunately, my stomach had other plans. Everything felt pretty good aside from the warm weather, but once I hit the half split, I was a hot mess. I can honestly say I hit up every single port-o-potty from the halfway point to the finish and made my way through the miles with a run-walk combination. Each step was a struggle, and I cried when I hit the finish line, thankful to be done. That was 5:22:22 on the pain train.
2013: I couldn’t let my absolutely awful race in 2012 break me, and I wanted redemption in 2013. This was also my first year as a RACM ambassador (official blogger back then), so I joyfully signed up for the full again. Training was going well, and I was getting faster. Impinged fat pads slowed me down a bit during training, and I went to the start line feeling a little unprepared. Although super hot, the race went well for me…until the damn second half when stomach trouble reared its ugly head. Although not as bad as the 2012 race, it still slowed me down, and I remember crying on the course. I thought I had this under control but apparently not (it would take until the next year for me to get smart and take Imodium before the race). I finished in 4:49:20, not as well as I had hoped but a whole hell of a lot better than the year before.
2014: My 3rd attempt at the CLE marathon and Dan’s first. We trained together for this race. I needed him to help me get faster, and he needed me because I had marathon experience. On race day, the weather was cool and crisp, and I was well prepared for this race both mentally and physically. Miles clipped by, and this was the first time I made it past the halfway point without a bathroom break! This was also the first time running 26.2 miles where it felt, if I dare say, easy, and this was probably my most enjoyable race to date. I crossed the finish in 4:24:52 with a leap across the line and a smile on my face! 2014 was also the first year I tried something new and added a race on Saturday. My parents, Dan, and I walked the 5K, and I loved that even though my parents are not runners, they still participate and support me.
2015: Again a CLE ambassador, my plan was to run the full, but I switched down to the half before race day. No worries, I suppose. On Saturday, I ran the 5K with all four of my kids. Yes, ALL FOUR…even my daughter who hates running. They all had a great time and liked getting medals and snacks at the end. On Sunday, I lined up for my second CLE half marathon, which made me laugh considering I had run the full three times already. Everything was going well, and for me, I was running fast. I ran out of steam a little near the end, slowing down a bit, but I still managed to run a race I was proud of. 1:55:54 and it was my first time running a long distance race under a sub-9:00 pace. PR party for me!
2016: The. Most. Cleveland. Race. Ever! The terrible weather conditions started on Saturday when my absolutely awesome parents joined me in the wind, rain, and cold for the 8K/5K. Dad and I walked the 8K, running at times because that’s how he does it, and Mom and our family friend Julia walked the 5K. I remember just about crying to my dad that I put in so much work training for the marathon to have it derailed by weather. He told me to just go out and do my best. And that is exactly what I did. My plan was a sub-4 hour marathon. I had quite a few people tell me it would not be possible, and I kept using that as fuel when the weather got worse and my legs got tired. I ended up having to walk for a hot minute on the dreaded Shoreway, but through my happy tears, I mustered the remaining leg strength I had to cross the finish in 3:57:19. I did it! My first sub-4 hour marathon!!!!
So what will 2017 bring? I was dragging my feet a bit with signing up. I knew I was planning to run the full marathon but as undecided about the Challenge Series. Mom and Dad agreed to walk with me again, so that made my decision easy. Full Marathon/8K Challenge Series it is! I’m trained up to 18 miles and feel pretty good about where I stand with my training cycle. It’s true I was better prepared last year, but I don’t feel as though I am too far off. As much as I want to run CLE all out and see how fast I can go with the new course, I need to play it smart with having the Green Jewel 50K about 3 weeks later. An injury in CLE means no ultramarathon, which is a bucket list item for me. For the next 8 weeks. I need to remain focused, continue to get my training runs in, and step up my nutrition game. Seven more weeks. We’ve got this.