Monday, May 18, 2015

Race Review: Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon

I made some stupid mistakes on Sunday, May 17, at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.  Wanna hear about them?  Maybe you can avoid my mistakes in your own races. First, let me start with a review, and then you can laugh at my mistakes later.

The Expo:

I went to the Expo at the Cleveland Convention Center on Friday after school.  I parked in a deck directly across the street, and I heard that many people found free street parking, so that didn't seem to be a problem.  The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Expo nailed it again this year.  So. Much. Fun!  Some people like meeting up in groups at the expo, but I love to navigate it myself so I can do whatever I want.  And I did!

American Greetings took my picture:

It took like 10 tries because I broke the camera.  I'm not kidding.

I got my nails done FOR FREE!!!

These are press-ons!  They were so fun!
I bought a 13.1 tattoo, but then I put it on upside down, so I had to scrape it off.  Mistake #1?

After picking up my shirt, I headed to a reception, sponsored by Tito's Handmade Vodka, in the old Arcade, where I hooked up with my fellow #runCLE Ambassadors.

We clean up good, don't you think?

Saturday the Ambassadors roamed the Expo, but for me it was cleaning day, so I stayed home and then I tried to go to bed early, but not before I applied another pre-race tattoo:

This is from Ulysses.  #litgeek

Two of my biggest worries about races are parking and bathrooms, and neither were a worry at this race.  I easily got into a parking deck at 5:55, and I didn't notice any terrible traffic jams as I walked to the starting line.  There were tons of porta potties lining the starting corrals, and there were bathrooms at the Q.  The ONLY problem I had was that there was no sanitizer anywhere to be found.  I ended up begging sanitizer off Jamie's mom (Jamie is a fellow Ambassador) because I knew I wouldn't be able to function without attempting to clean my hands after a visit to the porta potty.

Some of the Ambassadors met at the start for a picture:
We are ready to rock this run!

I also had a nice surprise: I spotted Christina, who is a former student and was about to run her first half marathon!

You always remember your first!
As we waited in the starting corrals, the skies opened up and drenched everyone, which wasn't too bad considering the temps were a steamy 68 degrees with humidity around 100%.  I thought this was a good sign because I was starting cool, and I knew I would need to keep cool during 13.1 miles.

The corrals were neatly organized; I lined up with the 4:00 pacers, and there was lots of room to navigate.  Actually, I had very little need to dodge runners because we all were on pace.  That is very refreshing, as dodging and stutter steps tend to sap my energy, and I can't keep myself from doing it if people are too close to me.  Speaking of the pacers, one of them was calling out information about the city as we passed the landmarks.  He was amazing.

The course is soooo fabulous, Peeps.  Some of it was a blur, but I loved running around Tremont, Ohio City, and Edgewater.  The crowd support was nice, although I didn't see as many funny signs as I saw last year.  I saw my friend Ed (who is a super-speedy runner) twice around Ohio City, and that gave me a nice boost for a while.

So, let me fill you in on how I handled the heat and humidity in this race.  I'll give you a hint:  not well.  I did a lot of stupid things during these 13.1 miles, and most of them were during the first 10k.  First of all, I didn't have any true time goals and I should have.  Normally I have a secret goal that I would be ecstatic if  I hit, a challenging goal that I'm pretty sure I can hit, and the "acceptable" goal that I won't beat myself up about if I at least hit it.  I didn't have any of that.  I just said, "Let's see how I feel," and that was stupid because I am never truly aware of how I feel in the moment.

I tried my trick from the 2014 Akron Half Marathon, when I focused only on how I felt during that mile, and so each mile when I asked myself if I felt good, the answer was yes.  Then I hit the 10k mark, and when I asked myself how I felt, the answer was AWFUL.  I realized that even though I was hot and sweaty, I was shivering and wanting to vomit, and that means possible sunstroke, Peeps.  Not good.  After I crossed the 10k mat, I deliberately slowed down and then walked through every water stop available on the course, drinking one cup and dumping another on my head.  Normally I might hit three stops on the course, but I knew the weather was a major game-changer, and I needed to take care of myself.  Kudos to the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon organizers for having so many water stops; I needed every darned one of them.

Kudos, too, to the volunteers who cheerfully handed us water, Powerade, and Carb Boom! Gels.  I am especially grateful to the lady who sprayed me with her garden hose (I think I love you), and I think the person who placed a sprinkler on the highway around mile 11 is a genius.

Despite all of these wonderful people, I feel like I just couldn't get my act together after the 10k.  At one point my Garmin shorted out, so I didn't see until I checked my data later that I ran an 11 minute mile.  Dammit.  I just fell apart.  I saw Ed three times on the course, and the last time was on the highway for mile 12.  I was a mess, but I was grateful to see him as I shuffled by like a zombie. When I got close to the chute, Laura and Erin called my name, and I told them I was toast, but they continued to encourage me.  I didn't really have anything left to kick it in the end.

What I should have done was pick a pace that I knew I could consistently maintain in that heat, and I still would have done better than I did by pretending to be Speedy Gonzales in the first six miles and then breaking down in the second half.  It was a dumbass move, and I don't intend to repeat it for the Medina Half Marathon in two weeks.

After crossing the finish line, getting my medal, and chugging some chocolate milk, I found my peeps from The Ohio Runner's Network, and we had some Great Lakes Brewing Company beer together.  This was a welcome change from the crappy "ultra" beer we get at other races, and I really enjoyed mine. . .until I spilled it.

This is really long already, so I'm going to cut it short and leave you with two more positive things I got from the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon:

1.  I made a new bunch of friends, and I'm going to write about them and their support in my next post.

2.  This:

I earned this shirt and medal!
Until next week, run happy, Peeps!

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