I ran my 3rd half marathon on Sunday – the Cleveland Half Marathon.
I had a few goals that I was hoping to achieve:
1. Run sub 3:00 – I know a 3 hr half is probably a HORRIBLE time for most of you but for me this would be big. My 2 previous halfs were over that for various reasons (GI issues, stopping to get photos, etc).
2. Beat my previous PR (3:09:xx at Disney Princess)
3. Finish feeling like I put it all out there and have fun.
I’m proud to say I accomplished all three goals! Yippee!!
My dad and I drove to Cleveland on Saturday morning. Stopped at the Expo to pick up our packets and checked into our hotel room that was downtown. Dinner was angel hair pasta with a light butter sauce from a local restaurant. I had pasta before the Princess half and realized there is something to that whole carb-loading thing, so I figured I’d do the same this time around. We hit the hay around 10pm but I was already feeling nervous.
The alarm went off at 5am. I woke up repeatedly during the night as usual, due to nerves. Breakfast was a bowl of granola with rice milk and half a banana. I’ve learned the hard way that peanut butter tends to lead to GI issues for me. I ate and then got dressed. The weather was looking dreary out and I hadn’t planned too well, so I was stuck in my running skirt, short sleeved pink tech shirt, headband and visor. We had some ponchos so I figured those would
come in handy before the gun went off. Around 5:45am we were on our way, walking to the start line a few blocks away. The start and finish were outside the Cleveland Browns stadium so we got to go inside the stadium to use the restrooms and use the gear check. 2 restroom stops and our gear checked later we were outside filing into the road to start. It was pretty windy, with the temperatures in the mid 50s. It was cloudy but not raining – yet. So my dad and I put on the ponchos while we waited to start, prepared to pull them off and throw them once we got going.
A little after 7 the gun went off. It took us 8 minutes to cross the start and we were off. Miles 1-3 included some hills but I knew the rest of the course was pretty flat so I just saved my energy and chugged up them. Our plan was to walk the water breaks, and when we took our gels, and run the rest. The course was nice, it started on the highway and weaved through a local park along the shoreway. Then we made a turn into the city and its neighborhoods and I was feeling good. Around mile 4ish (I think) it started to drizzle with rain, and my bladder was a little full. That pushed me over the edge and we made a plan to stop at the next set of porta-potties. There were only 6 porta-potties at a time so naturally there was a line, and we lost about 4 minutes here, major bummer. But we kept chugging, I was feeling great, and we hit the 10k mark before I knew it. We were half way!
Mile 7-8 is where in the past 2 halfs I have really lost it mentally. This time I was prepared, we were going to take our gels around 8ish, and I had a list of people and things to think about when the going got tough. So that’s just what I did. We slowed to a walk a little before the water break around mile 8 and I took my gel so that I could wash it down with some water. I kept thinking how great I felt and pushed through this tough wall. I dominated it. The next few miles cranked by and my hips were starting to get tired and I got a stabbing pain in my ribs. I slowed to an unscheduled walk 3 times between 10-12.5 but each time I picked a land mark and said I would run once we got there. Those last few miles are always tough for me too – my legs just stop wanting to work. Mile 11 was a bridge that many people had talked about previously being a PITA and hilly. I didn’t find it bad at all, and was so relieved to see that IMO it was pretty flat. The down side was the cold breeze coming off of the river hitting us. The temperature had dropped since we started and this was the first time I had really noticed it. I looked at my watch and said to my dad “we can actually do this” as in, finish sub-3. I guessed we would finish at 2:57:xx but really, I didn’t care if it was 2:59:59. Miles 12-13 are back through downtown Cleveland, we even passed our hotel which was a boost. The last little bit was all downhill so I gave it my all to cross that finish line strong.
My garmin read 2:56:26! I did it! I was so happy I started crying. It was just unbelievable for me to think that I cut 13 minutes off of my last half time. I felt great the whole time and really pushed through. It was by far my best half yet!
As we went through to grab water, and more importantly, our medals, the cold really hit us. So we quickly got inside the stadium to the warmth. I’d learned through previous races that I need to get out of my shoes as soon as possible or my feet feel awful, so this time I had packed flip flops and socks to change into. My dad gave me another poncho to wear back to the hotel to help keep warm. I wish we could have hung around a little longer but it was cold and we were wet and soggy. We got back to the hotel, showered, packed up and the headed out to come home. Lunch was a veggie flatbread and french fries at a restaurant. Yuummm. My appetite didn’t really come back yesterday so I’m full expecting some full force runger to hit this afternoon. Racewise, I’ve got a handful of smaller races over the summer, possible 4 miler, 4k, 10k. The summer months and training for a big race really don’t work for me. I’ll be running the Air Force Marathon 10k in Sept with the family, and am hoping to sign up for an October half soon. More details on that once I sign up.