Ryan and I flew out to Cleveland on a red-eye Thursday night, arriving Friday morning. It was great to be able to spend some time with family in addition to running the Cleveland half marathon. I'm actually writing this up on our flight back to California -- I haven't posted sooner since we were busy! I'll focus this post on the race, but I'll probably write another on the other fun things we did in Cleveland later this week.
Race morning was pretty typical. Cleveland Marathon has a 7am start. We had about a 30 minute drive and wanted to make sure to be early, so Ryan and I got up around 4:45am -- so early!
We didn't run into any big issues getting to the race start, except that the parking garage we had mapped to seemed non-existent, but there were plenty of lots nearby that were available. We hit up some porta-potties in a little park before reaching the race start area because we didn't actually know what it was going to be like. This actually turned out to be a good thing for Ryan since the men's room lines were even more crazy than the women's room lines! It was cool to be able to walk around the Cleveland Browns stadium before the race.
The start line was just outside the stadium, and there were big flags noting the pace corrals. I lined up near the 8:30/mile signs. It wasn't too overly crowded, which was nice. Before the on-time start, they had someone sing the national anthem, and a moment of silence for Boston. One of the Cleveland Cavaliers wished us good luck and they also played some music to pump us up including "Cleveland Rocks"! It took me a couple minutes to actually get across the starting line.
The start of the race is actually uphill, but I didn't mind because that helped me make sure to start out slow. I really tried not to worry much about pace for the first mile, just keep it easy. I hadn't studied the course too much, so I wasn't totally sure how hilly it would actually be. Turns out -- not too bad, but a few overpasses, and a few gradual longer inclines (luckily all followed by declines). Mile 2 was downhill, and I still tried to make sure it felt easy. My watch showed me going at a pretty fast pace, but I tried not to let it make me nervous and focus on feel.
Miles 1-3: 8:45, 8:09, 8:16
Somewhere at the end of mile 2, I found a guy who was going a great pace for me -- about 8:20/mi. I tried to just follow along behind him. This was really great because I was getting bored already!! This whole stretch of road so far didn't have much to look at and was actually like running on a highway. Unfortunately, I lost him at an aid station around mile 4.5. But thankfully the crowd picked up for a little while.
At this point, my pace had settled down and I was just trying to maintain speed and keep things reasonably comfortable until mile 10. I crossed the 10k split mat at 52:19. I felt pretty hot during most of the race, and made sure to drink water and/or gatorade at every aid station. I also dumped a cup of water on my head each time to cool me down.
Miles 4-10: 8:21, 8:16, 8:24, 8:14, 8:15, 8:20, 8:20
At mile 10, I looked at my watch and realized I had about 27 minutes left to run the last 5k and make my goal time of sub 1:50. I was starting to feel tired but knew I could turn it up a little. I was trying to do the math in my head on the seconds I needed to drop. I decided to aim for as close to 8 minute miles as I could so I didn't miss my goal. Miles 11 and 12 turned out to have a couple big overpasses, but I powered up them as hard as I could!
The last half mile was (oh so thankfully!!) downhill. I just let my legs ride and pushed it to the finish....trying to focus on breathing and not my exhausted legs!
Miles 11-13.1: 8:17, 7:56, 7:41, 1:41 (for last 0.24 miles)
My official finish time was 1:48:50! I was excited! I made my goal by over a minute!!! A 2-minute PR over the Oakland Half marathon.
Afterward it took a while to find everyone -- the finisher's area was super crowded with both 10k runners and half marathoners coming in. The first marathoner wasn't far away either so there were a TON of spectators. Once we all met up, we enjoyed a celebratory post-race beer.
Overall, I thought this was a pretty good race. The bag check area was super organized, but I think there could have been a better family meeting space. The course I thought was a little unexciting, with a big stretch on the highway, and many of the roads with potholes. My favorite miles were 4-6 when there was good crowd support and it was through some of the neighborhoods.
I did an OK job of running the tangents, which was my other goal for this race. According to my Garmin, I ran 13.24miles. Most of the race was fairly crowded, so I think some of this also had to do with weaving around people.
My legs have been sore since Sunday, so I know I worked hard! Yesterday and today I have been relaxing with family and flying back to California, so they are getting some good rest. I'll probably be keeping the remainder of the week pretty easy.
Whew -- this turned out to be a pretty long recap! Still can't quite believe I actually have a half marathon time sub-1:50. Yay!