The 4am alarm came early on Friday morning. I rolled out of bed, grabbed my bag and hit the road. I had a 6 hour drive ahead of me to get to Nashville and weather predictions showed a nice thunderstorm plaguing my entire day. With Monster in hand I headed north to Memphis then east to Nashville. As I was planning this trip I was searching for alternatives to parking my car at the airport for the weekend. One of the Marathon Maniacs turned me on to a company called Global Airport Parking. Through this company I was able to book a parking place for the entire weekend for less than $15 at Holiday Inn just a few miles from the airport. The hotel provided a shuttle to my terminal. I made it through security and had a couple of hours to sit and rest before boarding the flight. It was a quick flight to Cleveland, I landed right at 4:30pm. My friend Kirsten picked me up at the gate and we went straight to packet pick up just a few miles away.
Friday evening Kirsten & I went to the Cleveland Marathon VIP reception hosted at the Hyatt Regency downtown. This was a great way to finish up my travel day. There was great food available, I had a few cuts of pork loin, pasta, and a salad. There were a few speeches given by race organizers and sponsors. The highlight of this event for me was getting to meet all of the other Cleveland Marathon bloggers. I have been reading their words and talking to them on Twitter for 6 months, it was great putting living bodies with the still images that have filled my iPhone screen since December.
I wasn’t able to do much Friday other than grab my bib and leave so I wanted to check out the vendors and enter a few drawings. There are always a few raffle drawings for race entries & gift cards so I walked around and put my name in for several of them, picked up a t-shirt here, a drawstring bag there, looked at new products, and tried some old ones. I always enjoy visiting with small business run shops and companies striving to provide innovation to the activity. It was great seeing all of the support for Boston around the expo. Cleveland is truly running Boston Strong.
Sunday morning we were out of the house just before 5, only to quickly turn around to retrieve Kirsten’s bib from her staircase. We were out of the house by 5:15 and heading to our parking lot downtown by the Cleveland Browns stadium. All pre race activities were in and around the stadium. This was great! There were plenty of restrooms to use and everything was clearly labeled to get to gear check and starting corrals. There was even a concession stand open selling granola bars and coffee. I went through all my pre race ritualistic stretching & warm ups and took my place in my corral at the starting line.
The weather was perfect for race day, a little humid but very cool with a nice wind coming off of Lake Erie. That wind stayed with us the first 4 miles as we ran west down the Shoreway alongside the lake. I started with the 3:25 pace group and as the muscles got moving I pushed ahead of them by a few seconds. We took a couple hard left turns and zig zagged our way south east for a few miles. The chatter was unusually quiet for a race. There weren’t many people looking to talk, in the opening miles.
I felt great in the opening miles, I was very satisfied with my 10k split and as was my plan started to push the tempo just a little bit more. We crossed over a beautiful bridge at Mile 11 as we headed back into the downtown area and on to the half split off. As is usual this was when the day becomes very lonely. I’m always amazed at how quickly the race goes from shoulder to shoulder to no one else around. I felt great as I crossed the halfway timing mat. I knew I was putting up great numbers too when my I could hear my phone in my pocket buzzing with messages, tweets, and Facebook friends.
The next few miles spit us back out of town and off to the west. This was where things started to go wrong for me. At Mile 16 I started to feel significant pain in my ankle. I didn’t know what had caused it or where it came from. I made the decision as I was running down Chester Ave to take more walk breaks and shorten my stride. Just before mile 18 I watched my goal pass by as the 3:30 pace group zipped around me. I posted a message on Facebook that I was in pain and wasn’t going to meet my goal. My 30k (18.6 miles) split showed that I had decreased pace but was still moving and looking to finish.
The sun was really starting to shine and temperatures were rising fast. As I passed through mile 20 I started to suffer from intense muscle cramps in the bottom of my quads and the tops of my calves. At first I was having to walk after every half mile of running, then every quarter, ten barely that. It took everything I had to keep moving in the final 5k of the race. I had to take a walk break between mile marker 26 & the finish! I was so thankful to be done with the race. Any other day, any other race I would have been very happy about running a 4:06, but not this day. I was fighting off disappoint in my performance.
I was in immense pain, heart rate was high, and over heating. I crossed the finish line, staggered my way through the finish area and headed straight to the medical tent. They sat me down and have me pretzels and water to help stop the cramps and iced my knees to help ease the pain. Kirsten ran the half and she was there waiting on me as I left the medical tent and we found some shady grass to lay under for a while so I could really stretch and hydrate.
After taking a whole to stretch and relax I was up and moving because I had places to go and baseball to watch. Kirsten dropped me off at Progressive Field where I took great pleasure in reloading some burnt off calories from the morning and relaxing in right field where I watched the Indians shutout the Mariners 6-0. It was a beautiful day for baseball and a great way to wrap up my Cleveland Experience runcation.
Finish time – 4:06:13
Age Group – 97th
Gender – 597th
Overall – 779th