If you haven’t had a chance to read Part 1 to my Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Recap, check it out, so you know what’s going on 🙂
Sunday, May 21 was a day I had been looking forward to for the past year, give or take. I was going to run the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon – my 5th CLE Marathon and 7th overall marathon to date. I’ll admit I was nervous going into the race because I felt I was not as well training as I was last year when I set my marathon PR. However, I felt pretty confident I could run a good race, relatively speaking.
The alarm was set for 4:15AM. I like to get up early, eat, put on my makeup (yes, I wear makeup to run), and have plenty of time, so I don’t feel rushed. Plus, I knew I had to look semi-decent because I was meeting up with Branson Wright from The Plain Dealer for an interview pre-race. They contacted the Marathon to do a profile on a runner, and my Marathon friends passed along my name. Dan was not having a good morning, but I figured it was his usual pre-race issues just magnified a little. He kept saying he felt sick and that it was not going to be a good morning. I felt so bad for the guy!
We arrived at the start at Quicken Loans Arena at 6:00AM and found Branson. I did a little interview with him, which was actually a lot of fun and much less nerve-wracking than I expected. I found it easy to talk about why I loved the Marathon so much, what it meant to me, and why I run. After the interview, we had a little time to chill and visit with friends before the race. That is always one of my favorite things to do pre-race because it instantly puts me in a good mood and calms my nerves.
After the photo ops, I made my way to the start. I planned to line up with the 4:00 pace group and hang with them throughout the race. After a beautiful National Anthem and the special announcement of “Jack Staph Day,” it was go time! I took a deep breath and began my journey of 26.2 miles…but not before taking this absolutely ridiculous starting line picture. Thanks, MarathonFoto, for capturing my complete cheesiness!
The start was much more congested than I thought it would be, and I couldn’t help but think I started too far back. Being short is unfortunate at races because you easily get lost. I must have run ahead of the 4:00 pacers without knowing it, but when I saw the 3:55 group, I figured I would hang with them a bit and see what happened. The pace felt pretty good, and I was having fun. I have to admit I even loved the hill around mile 4. The motivational signs the Marathon posted were hilarious! I also LOVED seeing my sole sister and fellow Ambassador, Jamie, along the course. Jamie is one badass running chic who is battling back from an injury, so she didn’t run this year. Seeing her really lifted my spirits.
I hung with that pace group until about the half marathon mark. With the congestion at the beginning, the pace was a little too slow, so to get in on time, the group picked it up to a pace I wasn’t quite comfortable with for that many miles. So I dropped back and ran by myself, which was not a big deal at all. That’s how I train anyway. I did meet an awesome lady in a pink tank and we kinda ran together for a lot of the remaining miles. I wish I caught her name because she helped me when I started to struggle near the end. Pink tank top lady, if you are reading this, THANK YOU!
I felt like everything was going pretty well for me and I was going to come in under 4 hours until I hit about mile 21-22. Then the damn leg cramps kicked in. My left leg above my knee locked up, and I had to stop, rub out the cramps, and walk. Then, my foot cramped in my shoe, and holy hell, did that hurt! I felt pretty defeated at this point and wanted to cry, but I held myself together because I knew there weren’t many miles left. For the remaining miles, I tried to run as much as I could before the cramps started again. I would get about .75 mile in, and the legs would lock up, forcing me to walk. Looking back, I didn’t walked all that much, but it felt like an eternity when it happened. Pain train for sure!
When I hit mile 25, that finish was so damn close! I mustered every bit of energy left in my body to run those last 1.2 miles. It was slower than I wanted, but I was able to run it all. Seeing the people lining the finish as I made my way into the city definitely gave me a boost, and before I knew it, the finish line was in sight! A-freaking-men!!!!!
I knew my family (Mom, Dad, Sarah, Rhett) were going to be at the race, so when I came in for the finish, I looked for them to no avail. But I saw Dan at the finish and didn’t think anything weird of it. I just figured he was part of The Plain Dealer’s story, or maybe I was delirious after 26+ miles. I crossed the finish line, threw my hands in the air in celebration, and stopped my watch (don’t worry, people who didn’t think I stopped it; I did!). AND THEN I SAW HIM DROP TO ONE KNEE!!!! Holy shit, is this really happening?! Yes, it was. He asked me to marry him, and I said yes! And it only seemed fitting that he asked at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon since we trained together for that race in 2014 and have been a running team ever since. Between the crying and buckling legs, we celebrated at the finish, and little did I know, it was all caught on camera. Dan had been planning this with the CLE Marathon staff since freaking January, and when The Plain Dealer contacted them about doing a story on the runner, they had just the person.
Once I could kinda wrap my head around what just happened at the end of this race, I saw my family, Dan’s family, my sister Sarah and her husband Rhett, and our friends Andrew, Brittany, Ryan, Jess, and Jamie standing around us cheering and smiling. I was so thankful they were there for this moment! I love you all.
So just like that, I’m an engaged lady! My phone was going crazy after the race with calls, texts, and social media well-wishes, and when I went into work on Monday, I was like a pseudo celebrity. Most people had already seen the video on social media or the news, so I was popular that day. I’ve been asked the usual questions – Do you have a date? Have you picked a venue? Do you have a dress? Have you thought about a honeymoon? Honestly, no, we haven’t. We are going to enjoy this time in our lives and think about planning a little later.
Now comes the part for some thank-yous. Here it goes.
- Dan – thank you for the amazing proposal and for loving me. I don’t make it easy at times. I love you and look forward to our life together. Guess it’s time to change that single mom part of the blog J
- CLE Marathon Ambassadors – you are wonderful, and I am glad we got to be part of this together. I am thankful for your support and friendship. You are my running family.
- CLE Marathon staff, especially Jack, Ralph, Joan, and Kayla – I think the world of you, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to represent your race. Also, sending a huge THANK YOU for helping Dan with the proposal. I don’t see how that can be topped.
- Mom, Dad, Rick, Lori, Sarah, and Rhett – I am so glad you were there for our big day! The weather was bad, but having you there was perfect. Love you.
- Readers – whether you are family, friends, or people I have never met, thank you for following my journey and reading my posts. A blog is nothing without its readers.
AND…if you’re interested, you should check out some of the videos/articles about the proposal.