Race Recap: Cleveland Marathon Challenge Series 2017- Part 3

Sunday!!!!!! It was finally here, the day that I have been working towards for so long. Wake up call was at 4 and I hit the road by 4:30. I was riding solo in the morning, so it was quick to toss my running gear on and get out the door. I did check the weather before I left and was a little scared of what I saw but Ohio is so fickle. I said a little prayer for no lightening and was on my way. The ride up went pretty quick and I had a game plan of where I wanted to park so I drove right there and was walking to the start a little before 6.

I was a little concerned

Ready to roll

The official start line

Crowd support

Hello Cleveland!

The first person I ran into was Dan and I did a little happy dance because I knew what was coming later after the race. (more on that later) I used the facilities and headed over to the start line where I ran into some of my ambassador friends Stephanie and Pam. Soon after we found Jess, Sarah, Stephani and Jamie! We hung out for a bit, talked about the plan for the race, the weather and eased each others nerves a bit.

They then, it was getting close to take off time, so I hit up the potties one last time and started to line up. My original plan was to run with Rachel and then meet up with my old work buddy Tim and do a few miles. I had found Tim and then found Rachel on our way to the corral. It seemed way more packed then what I remember in the past years, but maybe because we got to the line up much later. Either way, I was super jazzed about getting out there. Rachel was looking for Sarah so I hung back with Tim. Super fun fact about Rachel is that she's a legit running coach too! So, she had written up a plan for me that I fully intended on following. I think I need to work on following plans better, generally speaking in life, Ill have a plan and then not always even follow half of it. Such is life.

Ready to rock!

Me and Tim- most motivational runner I know!

Since today was so special and the 40th anniversary of the race, the announcer proclaimed the day in Cleveland officially "Jack Staph Day". He is such a great man and has been part of this race for as long as it has been a race.  A few minutes later" Cleveland rocks" started to play and it was time to roll!  I freaking LOVE that song when I'm standing in downtown Cleveland waiting for the marathon to start! I don't think too much else in life gets me pumped up more.

Off we went! The first few miles were a lot of dodging and weaving to get a good pace. I was really happy when the first miles popped up on my watch as 10:15.  That was exactly on track for the Rachel plan!  I thought, ok- this could actually really happen. I just had to keep on task for another 12 miles, no big deal. I kept up with Tim until we headed up the first larger hill and then I needed to take a little walk break. He was running about 9:40 and I knew that I hadn't trained that fast for a long run so I peeled back for about 30 seconds. I didn't run into Tim again after that. I felt like I was cruising for awhile and when I looked down the miles seemed to tick by.

Still feeling strong
I had kept my music in for the most part and that was keeping me company but I was surprised how much I missed a running buddy! There was plenty of people around that I could talk to and I did at some points but I was getting tired and my strong feeling seemed to have worn off a little by mile 6ish. I know that it was a crazy busy weekend and I had been downtown the larger part of the day on Saturday. I think I was feeling spent and even a little dehydrated. Every water stop from that point on I walked and took a cup of water and powerade. This helped a little bit and I kept moving.

Almost done!

The miles kept going by and soon I was at mile 11. This is always the tough part of a half for me, similar to mile 20 of a marathon mentally I think. I looked at my watch and knew that the goal of breaking my PR (2:21) was more than likely not happening today. I was a little disappointed with myself knowing that maybe I should have trained harder or stuck to the plan better but why beat myself up? I kept moving and crossed that finish line with a time of 2:26:05. Not my best time but the most memorable race weekend of my life!

Go Bobcats!

Me and Coach Rachel

I got my medal and chocolate milk and pretzels and called my mom and Chad to tell them how it went. Then I went to pick up my challenge series medal which was really awesome!  It was starting to rain and for as hot as I was out on the course, I was wishing I used the gear check for a long sleeve shirt. I called Rachel and she told me to meet her at the breakfast, so I walked over there and had a really amazing breakfast with her and her family. It was fun to sit for a minute and talk about our racing experience that day. It was great to just have time to hang out too. My intent was to go back to the finish line and wait for Stephanie to come in and watch her boyfriend propose and watch my other friend Stephani roll in from her 2nd full marathon but I was so cold and not feeling great at this point that I decided to walk back to my car and head back. By the time I got to my car I was able to see this. There was a video that I watched about 5 times and I was so happy for them!  What an incredible weekend of running and love! 

So happy!!!! Great job Dan!

Best race swag yet!

It was an overall amazing experience being a part of this 40th anniversary race! 
Thank you to Jack, Ralph, Kayla and Joan!  They work so hard all year for this race and they also let me be a part of it and I couldn't be more honored!
Thanks to the many volunteers out there who made this race possible and greeted us all at every water stop with a smile and a cup of water! You guys help so much more than you know!
And thanks to my family- Chad, Mom, Dad and my boys who support me so much with all of the hours training and spending time pounding the pavement. There is no way that I would ever be able to attempt this without you!

Cheers to 40 years of running Cleveland!  You nailed it!


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