Monday, May 18, 2015

Surviving not Thriving at The Cleveland Marathon This Year

Marathon # 5 is in the books! This year the Cleveland weather threw a lot of craziness at us brave runners including pouring rain, serious humidity and some hot temps late into the race but overall the whole marathon weekend experience for me was awesome thanks to the support of my husband, friends, Challenge Family teammates and marathon ambassadors.

Friday Evening:

Cleve Marathon Ambassadors
This year I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the Official Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors. In addition to a free race entry and swag, I met the nicest group of people ever! I already had a couple of friends in the group but am happy to say that I made a bunch of new, amazing friends as well. I really can't say enough how much fun we had and the incredible amount of support that I received from this group! I look forward to following these folks as they go on to take on their next challenges. Friday our group was invited to the Marathon VIP Reception at the Hyatt Arcade. It was a first class event all around with excellent food, beverages and company! Special thanks to Jack Staph, owner of the Cleveland Marathon race for his generosity. A few of us ambassadors also attended the pre-race happy hour with Great Lakes Brewing at Flannery's Pub. I want to send a big shout out to Great Lakes for sponsoring the marathon this year. It was wonderful to have a local craft beer after my race!


Green screen fun at the Expo
Saturday my husband Steve and I had a relaxing morning including some practice golf at the Blackbrook Driving Range followed up with a short 25 minute shakeout run. It was a very humid, sweaty run so I had a feeling we would be battling some tough race conditions. After lunch we headed downtown to the Convention Center for the marathon expo. We met up with my friend Jillian there and after the expo headed over to Barrio for a prerace IPA and some amazing chips and guac! Steve and I made a conservative prerace dinner and had another prerace beer with a lot of water and turned in early to watch a funny movie before bed. I slept pretty well waking up once to use the bathroom and have a little Powerbar snack.

Race Day:

The alarm went off at 4:30 and we were up right away to get dressed, eat a hearty breakfast and head out by 5:20. We arrived at the Penton parking garage around 6am and by the time we got ready and met up with my friend Jillian and walked over to the start area it was 6:30. I was supposed to meet my ambassador group but Jillian and I both had to use the bathroom before the race so we headed off to search for the ladies room. We met back up with Steve and chatted with some friends a couple minutes before heading into our corrals for the start. I lined up with the 3:35 pace group with friends Jessica and my new friend Jen who came in from Charleston, SC for the race. As we were waiting for the start, it poured down rain for about 5 minutes before it died down. It was tough just standing there but the rain probably helped cool us down as it was a very humid morning!

We took off after a quick 10-sec countdown and the first few miles went by super fast as I chatted with friends and our pacer. Things went smooth with my nutrition and water from the start. I made sure to get water early on as I knew I would need it later in the run. I felt on track but really had to use the bathroom so I stopped at the porta-johns at mile 13. Unforunately I had to wait a bit and then after my stop for water the pace group was too far ahead of me to catch up. I decided to just try and pace myself around 3:35. My goal for the race was 3:35-3:38. My BQ time is 3:40 but it's usually necessary to have a cushion to get into the race.

I paced pretty well until before the turn around in Rocky River. I was super excited to see my husband pass and see that he was on pace for his BQ! The 3:40 group ended up passing me and I figured I could maybe get back on track so I pushed on. Somewhere around mile 18 or 19 it started pouring rain again. It was bitter sweet because it cooled me off but it was also soaking my clothes and feet. My shoes rubbed and I knew I was in trouble with blisters. I also started to labor a bit around mile 21 or 22 and the rain didn't make it easier. Then the sun came out full blast as we headed to the shoreway. I baked and baked some more and I got very nauseated and stopped to throw up. I wanted to quit but that wasn't an option. I wanted to PR but that was a long shot. So I ran and I puked and I walked. I was happy to see my friend Jillian on the course. With a hug and a sip of water from her as well as good news that Steve had a BQ race, I drudged on reluctantly. The last mile was bittersweet as I fought to try to at least run the same time as I had done last year for this race. My thoughts went to beer. I just want a beer and my husband! I was pretty elated to see the finish to say the least!

Post race with my hubby!
Unfortunately I was about a minute slower than last year with a 3:52:30. Not a time to celebrate but certainly an accomplishment for just surviving the day. Instead of celebrating right away I threw up several times. I ran into my friend Jen who had a rough day too and had actually pulled out of the race early (poor thing).

Finally after about 30-40 minutes of relaxing and icing my neck I was cooled off enough  to get a post finish picture with Steve and then walk over to the beer tent for my Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale. Beer after a race that hard is amazing!

We walked to the parking garage and got cleaned up and changed into dry clothes before heading to the Winking Lizard to meet up with some of our Cleveland Tri Club friends and my friend Jillian. I enjoyed another beer and a burger and some great conversation. After heading home I was just hungry all day basically and ready for bed at 8:30! Aside from a throbbing toenail and a little overall fatigue, I feel good. I will take it easy for 2-3 days then ease back into my training. I have a duathlon and a couple tris approaching but I may try one more marathon in late June to see if I can BQ before the serious Half & Full Iron training starts this summer. But for now it's rest and recover!

Steve and CTC friends Jim, Frode, Dan & Jason post race!


  1. I love Great Lakes Brewing. So tasty!

    I can't believe mother nature threw so many different conditions at you! Takes a really strong runner to push through all of that and still go sub-4. Well done. Lesser experienced marathoners would crumble in those conditions.

    1. Thanks John. I am signed up to run Charlevoix later this month. Hoping I have a better day!