Cleveland Marathon Race recap

Just shy of one week ago I was headed to bed to get a good nights sleep before my 9th half marathon the following morning and what a race it was! It was my 7th time participating in the Cleveland marathon and my 4th year as an ambassador to the race. Its been such an honor these past 4 years to represent the Cleveland marathon, a race that I truly love so much!

Official Ambassador 2018

Race weekend is always my favorite, its where we get to celebrate and have a blast together at the VIP dinner and where all of the hard work that has gone into training is finally put to the test.

This year my mom joined me again as my date for the VIP dinner on Friday. We met after I finished work and rode up to Cleveland together. We took a slight detour to the expo where we picked up our racing bibs and got to check out all the new fun goodies that were for sale. I always love hanging out at the expo and could spend all day looking at all the cool new products and could really spend a lot of money there too! I was pretty excited about the cool American Greetings cards they had made especially for the race. I took a few and I'm looking forward to framing them with all of my racing stuff! After we walked around a little bit we headed over a few blocks to the Hyatt Arcade where the VIP reception was already underway.

Awesome running cards

The VIP reception is one of the coolest events I have been invited too. The Arcade is always so pretty and the race goes all out with special drinks, beautiful decoration, a live band and really amazing food. But the absolute best part is spending time with my friends that I have had the pleasure of meeting thru the race. It always goes too fast and before we know it we are back on the steps taking the annual photo. Its always fun and the one time a year that I feel like I have the paparazzi following me! This year was especially fun to meet some of the new ambassadors that I hadn't gotten a chance to meet earlier in the year. Everyone is so nice and its really interesting to hear eveyone's story. Before we knew it, mom and I were headed home and talking non-stop about how fun it was to get to see everyone again and how we couldn't believe that race weekend was finally here!
Me and Mary, our social media queen!

Me and Stephani, 26.2 rocksar!

Melissa times 2!

Our annual Ambassador selfie

2018 Ambassadors

Me and my mom

This year I was really wanting to run the challenge series again but my son had soccer on Saturday and living a little over an hour away from Cleveland made it pretty impossible to make it to both, so soccer (and the Royal wedding) won over me participating in the 8K on Saturday. And, in case you are wondering, the wedding was amazing, the kids were less than interested and soccer was great! It was honestly nice to have a low(ish) key Saturday instead of driving back and forth all 3 days. As low key as you can get with a house full of boys :)

My Saturday morning
Basically, the world cup

Before I knew it, it was Sunday morning at 4 am and I was up and getting dressed! My mom wanted to go watch me cross the finish line and Ryan said he would go with us too. Mom stopped by the house at 5am and we were off. I was shocked how bright eyed Ryan was at 4:45 when I woke him up!  I think he was pretty excited to see the race again. The drive up was pretty uneventful but the weather was a little less than desired. It was about 55 but I knew closer to the lake it would be cooler, which isn't the worst thing, but it was also drizzling and that didn't look awesome to me. It continued to drizzle as we made it into the downtown area and we found a parking area that I always park in. I left mom and Ryan in the car and told them to hang out there for awhile since the drizzle had turned into something stronger. I jogged over to the start line and was supposed to meet up for an ambassador picture but I needed to stop at the porta potties and that line took FOREVERRRRRRRRRR. It wasn't something that I could skip, so I waiting in line, knowing I was missing seeing all of my friends and giving out some good luck high fives and hugs! 

Lining up!

The start line

When I finally made it out of my pit stop it was already time to line up. I smushed my way into my corral, took a few selfies and then we were off!  It took a good 5 minuted to cross the start line and I was back further than normal and didn't even hear them play Cleveland Rocks but it was ok, I felt ready, more ready than I ever have been. I just took a deep breath, started my watch and crossed the start line. I was keeping track really good in the first mile to not take off too quickly. That has happened alot in the past and I just take off like a rocket and burn off too quickly and then feel like crap in the back half. I was careful to stay really close to my target of 10 minute miles. The first mile ticked by right at 10, then mile 2 at 9:53, and mile 3 at 9:39!  I was feeling so good!  Mile 4, 5, and 6 were all close to 10 too!  I was having a great time out there, only stopping for water to walk and kept plugging away. The awesome part of the first half is the people I saw randomly on the course! Right off that bat I saw a girl I have only really met in real life maybe two time, my insta-friend Stephanie!  But it totally made me smile and kept me moving. Its notable that it was still spitting rain, so between that and the sweat from running, i was not very dry! The other reason I had to stop was to re-tie my shoes. Specifically my right shoe kept coming loose and my laces were pretty soaked. As I stopped for the second time to re-tie another friend Stephani and her friend Marta ran by! I laced up quickly and eventually caught up to them for a little chat and some selfies. There is nothing like seeing your friends out there on the course to keep you moving! 

Me, Marta and Stephani right before the mile 7 killer hill

I was moving fast and was feeling so good, even high-fiving myself for all of the training I had done. It was feeling like it was really paying off! Then, the mile 7 hill arrived into my life. WOW!  That hill felt like a mountain!  The other hills I was able to jog up but this one really made me take a deep breath and I needed to take a walk break. I started back up after that but at mile 7, I started clocking some 11 minute miles. Those were mainly because of the walk breaks I was taking pretty much each mile after 7. I didn't walk too long, but it was enough to make the dream of my PR waver a little bit. I kept thinking of that quote "everything hurts and i'm dying". I felt like everything was hurting out there and my shoes were pretty much soaked. My soaked shoes gave me the impression that the bottoms of my feet were totally covered in blisters. The other thing I noticed towards the end of the race was that my watch was off somehow. I thought it was probably because I was starting and stopping so much in the back half that I had confused my watch. Oh well, I just kept going and when I saw the crowds I knew I was close. I was in pain, I was trying to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and I was really ready to be done. My mom called me as I was about 1/2 mile away and she told me to look for her and Ryan on the right and that they had a pink sign. When I finally reached them and saw them I lost it! It was a struggle but seeing them waiting for me made it all worth the while.

Seeing mom and Ryan waiting for me

mile by mile says my Garmin

I crossed the finish line officially at 2:24:53. I knew I had missed my PR, my time to beat was 2:21:23. So, missed by 3 and a half minutes!  dang it! I got my medal and snacks, posed for a picture, declined the aluminum foil wrap (regretted that decision quickly afterwards) and made my way over to the Utterly Smooth cow and met up with Ryan and my mom. My counsin and her girls were amazing and came to the end of the race to cheer me on too! I was super happy for the extra love and support, especially since her girls are so little and its not always easy to take them at that age to any event! We had a nice little visit and then made the way back to our car. It never felt so good to sit down and change into some flip flops I had packed to drive home in.

Me and my girl Rachel

Cleveland rocks!

We made the hour plus drive back home and I took what felt to me like the best shower of my life and really took it easy the rest of the day. Ryan took a nap and I was able to close my eyes a little bit too.

Overall, I walked away from this race a little disappointed because I was so gung-ho on beating my PR and missing it by such a small margin was not what I had planned. Were there times out there where I could have pushed harder? Yes. And time that maybe I didn't need such a walk break? Maybe. But, did I really give it my best this year training wise? Yes! My plan with running is never to be the fastest or to even BQ, My goal is to keep improving over the last year, to stick with it and to keep liking it. And I do still like running, I actually love it! And I'm already planning on coming back next year and making that mile 7 hill my bitch!

Until next year Cleveland!

I would like to thank Jack, Ralph, Joan, Kayla, and Teddy for allowing me to be an ambassador for this year! Its been such an honor to represent and be a part of the race that I love so much!


its Race week- my Cleveland Marathon 26.2!

3 years ago today I ran my first and only (so far) full marathon!  It was amazing, emotional, it was so tough and it was one of the most rewarding moments of my entire life. The journey to those 26.2 miles is something that I haven’t really ever written out though I have thought about it a hundred times. 

26.2 miles complete!
This is my real Cleveland Marathon 26.2 story. 

Roughly 11 months before those 26.2 miles my husband moved out of our house. It was a joint decision and something that needed to happen but my whole world was thrown upside down. At the time our boys were 1 and 3 years old. I was obviously worried and not sure exactly what to do with myself. Specifically, I was not sure what to do with myself when the kids were not with me. I learned to mow the grass (I know, lame) and I tried new recipes and went to hang out with friends. I had been running for a few years in between having the boys and I saw an add about applying to be a Cleveland Marathon Ambassador and thought it sounded really cool. I hesitated as I filled out the questionnaire knowing I was just a slow-ish wannabe runner who trained on my lunch breaks and sometimes on the weekends. I was not fast at all and there was really nothing special about what I did but I sent in the application anyways and a few months later I received an email that I was actually chosen to be an ambassador! I was elated and actually pretty damn shocked but went with it.

Then I started getting the bug that maybe I should consider running a full marathon. I had run a few half marathons, I’m sure I could do a full if I put my mind to it right?  And I was an ambassador after all, why NOT go for it? And I had a day every weekend that I could dedicate to running when the kids were with their dad. It seemed like a better therapy than going out to drink, and cheaper too. I mentioned this idea to my running buddy Lynanne and she agreed that this was something that we could train together for so we got a plan and started training. At the time we worked together and were able to run on our lunch breaks and also had some really awesome running friends at work who were consistently motivational and pepped us up! We were so dedicated to our goal of completing the full that we just never took no for an answer. We ran and walked and ran again until we hit our long run goal each and every weekend and we really had the best time! Soon, I was watching her cross the finish line in Pittsburgh and a few weeks later, I was crossing the finish with my handsome little guy in Cleveland. This moment will never leave my memory, I thought I would be a sappy mess but I was never more proud! It felt like I weathered the storm and came out just fine. It was one of my proudest moments in my life!

2105 Cleveland Marathon

Over the next few years the schedule changed, the divorce was finalized and I didn’t want to dedicate as much time to running when the boys were with me. Now, we split the boys every other weekend and the idea of going out for a 4+ hours run just felt bananas to me. I wanted to spend time with my boys and decided that training for the half marathon for the last three years was a smarter choice for me. I was able to get up and run before they were awake or only be gone a minimal amount of time and hang with them. I plan to run the half marathon again this year, in just a few days.

The people I have met as an ambassador have become so special to me over the years. It’s this awesome little family of amazing people who not only motivate the heck out of me but they are just always there for me. One my most favorite nights of the year is the VIP dinner for the race that we get to attend. We change out of our sweaty running gear, get a little dolled up and hang out with each other and eat some great food at the gorgeous Hyatt arcade that in downtown Cleveland.  It’s the most fun night and I look so forward to it. The first two years mom my came with me and we had a blast! Shes a semi-retired runner and really loves hearing about everyone’s training plans and its an fun excuse to have a girls night. Last year I was excited to have my boyfriend join me for the special night. He had heard all the stories of my running friends and seen pictures from years before so I was excited to get a special date night with him in the city. It ended up being so much more special that I had even expected because after we ate and he had met all of my friends we stood on the stairs to get our picture taken and he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I was in complete shock and it was one of the best nights of my life! It was nothing short of incredible and made one of my favorite nights all the more special. 

2017 VIP reception dinner
And that night, that race weekend, really felt like a complete full circle moment for me. This race that is associated with getting me through some of my hardest times in life has also been a part a new beginning for me and some of the most exciting moments in my life! I'm happy to say that after that night we purchased a new home together and were married a few months ago.

This will be my 7th year participating in the Cleveland marathon. I have run it with my sister, my mom, my cousin and so many friends. I have crossed the finish line holding my boys hands and have watched them participate in the kids run.  I am still completely honored and humbled by the fact I am associated with this race that is so unbelievably special to me. Thank you Cleveland Marathon for letting me be a part of this race that I love.

Here’s to a great race weekend!