First things first....
O...M....G! I am a marathoner. I am a marathoner!!
Ok, now that we have that out of the way...OMG, I just ran 26.2 miles. I crossed the finish line. I got a medal and I did it with the two best people one could ever hope to run with.
Ok...seriously...out of my system. Onto the race recap. Apologies for wordiness and photo heavy. Bear with me. It was my first and I tried to relish in every moment and I'm trying to remember each of it mile by mile.
We arrived in Cleveland on Saturday. The race was Sunday. I came into the decision a little late in the game so I didn't get a hotel. This was fine because Andrew's cousins live in a suburb of Cleveland and they offered their home to us to stay there. Score!!
We hit the expo at the I-X center. The expo was OK. I liked it better than the Pig a few weeks ago. I didn't feel like there were tons of "sales" as I was kinda scouting for some cheap shoes but I didn't find any. Lots of things un running related (like windows, doors, gutters). I felt like I was at the state fair :) I did enjoy all that was in the swag bag and my finisher shirt is awesome!
After packet pickup we decided to head back to the hotel, check in and meet for dinner. Andrew and I just followed them to the hotel and parked in a public parking lot. No biggie. We waited in the hotel lobby and after everyone was done we walked over to the Winking Lizard for dinner. The "start" line was in front of their hotel so I grabbed an early shot!
The food was good but the service was slow. I had hoped to be done eating way before 8:00 but we had a large group and the server seemed to be overloaded with large tables. I enjoyed the time out though. Forgetting for a brief second of why we were there and getting to be a kid less person for one evening. Afterwards we walked back to the hotel and said our good nights. We headed for Richmond Heights and it took us about 25 minutes. I showered quickly, got into bed, checked Facebook, (thank goodness because Michael and Lynne reminded me to charge my watch), laid out my clothes for the following morning, got back into bed and then tried to go to sleep. Tried!! I think maybe I got a solid 2 hours. I kept thinking what if I slept through my alarm!
I didn't. It went off right at 4:30am. I got up, slowly got dressed, wondered again what the heck I was thinking, unplugged my watch (story about that later), started drinking my water. We loaded up the car and were on the road at 4:55am. It took much less time to get back to Cleveland. We were suppose to exit at 3rd but it was already closed off so we exited early and found a line of cars trying to get into the parking garage. I was hoping it wasn't a bad omen. We decided to try to get as close as we could to the start line and found a $5 parking garage open. We pulled in and I started to make my peanut butter sandwich and ate my banana. Still drinking water. I went through my bag ONE MORE TIME. Water belt, check..fill up the bottles now. Gymboss-check. Three cliff bars and a thing of chews-check. Watch-check-wait...it only has two bars. Shit...watch didn't charge. Ok..no problem. Lynne and Angi both have intervals built into theirs--check but minor panic. Throw away shirt-check-sorta. (not a throw away). OK. I was set. We walk into the hotel and get to the lobby where we were scheduled to meet everyone. Lynne shows up first and then Angi. We start talking and Stephanie (our coach) give us our little pep talk and I decide to pee once more before we head to the corrals.
We head down to the corrals about 5 after 6. We were "suppose" to be in line at 6am but seeing as half the people in my corral were on the side of a building to block the wind and people walked into the corral at 7:00am, I wager this rule was not strictly enforced. We met up with Gail and her daughter who were walking the 10k. They stayed with us until about 6:50 and they headed into their corral. We were very lucky that Angi brought us her industrial strength trash bags and those babies are freaking awesome. I'll be stealing one for the Indianapolis race in November for sure. We got into our corral and looked around. Not too many marathoners in this group! We were also in the back and saw the last pacer for the marathon at a 5:25 finish. We were hoping for a sub 6 but not that "sub". I was kinda disappointed with that but it is what it is. Not every group can be paced (like Columbus).
|Photo Selfie by Angi|
|Starting Line "corrals: Photo courtesy of Angi|
|Angi, Gail, Me, Lynne and Cheryl|
The race started a bit late (7:05) there was the National Anthem and the gun went off. It took us about 10 minutes to get to the start line. We crossed and saw Stephanie, Andrew, and Lori on the left and they got us going. We had our first mile pace (as always a little fast but not OVERLY fast) right on and I was already feeling good. It was a chilly start-49 degrees and shedding the trash bag was necessary. I had my throw away shirt on but my feet were cold and they felt like hell beating on the concrete. The streets were a MESS. I remember telling Andrew on the way to his cousins to remind me NEVER to complain about Columbus roads again. We made a conscious effort to watch the road ahead of us as we were not about to start out on a sprained ankle or a face-plant on the road! It didn't take us long to warm up and I shed my "throw away" shirt at mile 2.5 right after we get over the first bridge. Andrew had asked me not to throw away his shirt so I kept it tied around my waist the entire time. Nothing says I love you like not throwing away a "throw away" shirt.
The 10k split went well. We were well on target for our projected finish time. We were still running/talking/laughing. We really enjoyed looking at the homes in this area. The people were out and offered us beer/water. The water stops before hand were really busy!! So they "made up" water stops were awesome. They made up banners and put them up. It kinda reminded us a little of the German Village/Schiller Park area of Cap City. Lynne took this opportunity to nearly take a face-plant when she tripped on a rock. She caught herself--thank goodness. Angi decided to bring us to tears at mile 7 with a story of which I'll never forget. Its not my place to share here. Angi had 26 people on her arm of which we could pray for. This was a good way for us to focus on something other than the race and not loose our heads. It really helped me. If I was having a moment, I'd ask her "who are we praying for now, Angi?" The juggler and "granny" were still behind us. This is also the time frame where Angi invented "kick the cup". The water stations were so freaking busy and the cups were so littered on the ground for awhile afterwards. Angi kept kicking the cup, Lynne would kick it back. The one time I tried, I missed the cup completely. Goes to show...games will balls or "cups" are just not my forte. It passed the time for a few minutes.
We made it to mile 9.5 and we made the big "split". You know the one. The one where the half marathoners go one way and the marathoners go the other way. I screamed and jumped and had a moment. We start taking notice of who is around us. There is granny, the running juggler and a few others that seemed to be right around us. These next few miles were in my opinion on the "not so safe" part of town but the police presence was huge. I'd say every 50 feet or so. I love thanking the officers being out there. Its always something I've done and I will always continue to do. I'm sure its not their favorite thing; standing 7+ hours and watch thousands of crazy runners. There were very few spectators on this part or the race. There was one good DJ. I can honestly say that the entertainment on this course was seriously lacking. We saw the same DJ twice and any other time there was a DJ we heard "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" three times and "Thrift Store" five freaking times. I have taken that song off my playlist for any future races. I think they had an approved song list and each DJ had the same list. But what are the chances that the song would come on FIVE freaking times??!!! There is just no other explanation.
We head onto Lake Ave (mile 11) and start seeing the Elites coming back. We take this opportunity to stop so I can use the bathroom. I knew it was gonna happen, just wasn't sure how long I could hold out. I've never had to stop in a race before but I already had much more to drink and I have a nervous bladder. Yes, I openly said that on my blog. We are cheering for the elites and wonder what mile they are on (21). We are starting to notice that our watches are not timing up with the mileage (damn tangents) and so every time we have a mile marker on our watches we have to run about .4 miles before we see the "flag". I start watching out for my friend Heather is also running the full and catch her around mile 12 or 13 (she was on her way back :18-19))
|Our 14.5 mile selfie. I put our a prayer request right after!|
|Picture of the shore line from "our" side of the bridge|
|Lynne and her mom. I love everything about this picture.|
Mile 14 we are starting to feel the heat. I'm guessing it was probably in the 50's by this time but the sun was hot!! There wasn't much shade to be had. I did really really enjoy it though. The crowd support was present and active. One of my favorite signs made it out (so wish I pulled out my camera) "smile if you aren't wearing underwear". And all of our personal favorites: "Chafing the Dream".
Mile 14.5 Lynne has to stop to use the bathroom and I've sent out a FB message quickly for prayer. I figured it was a good way to let everyone know we were OK but we were feeling it and slowing down a bit. My new running friend, Jennifer, let me borrow this sweet hat that reflects the heat. She mentioned to dunk it in water and it would keep me cool. I had started doing this around mile 12 and kept at it at every water stop. I think I will need to purchase on of these sweet hats for the summer running months ahead. We keep going and notice that the turn around is mile 16 and we get that taken care and we are headed back up the shoreline. There were some AMAZING houses here. I mean like serious beachfront property. It was a nice little break imagining what they looked like on the inside. The crowd support here was so nice too. Families and neighbors were out. Little kids giving out hugs and water. It was so fun and they were so supportive. I mean who wants to have their road blocked off for 7 hours at a time? There were so patient about it. Then we notice a few people we didn't see before and wonder where the hell they came from. We are pretty sure they cut the course a little. The turn around was kinda like this little triangle. The side road connected and I would bet my bottom dollar that those two took that bottom part of the triangle. Because when you are running with the same people around you for miles on end, (Granny, the running juggler, black pants couple and yellow shirt girl) you start noticing the people that "shouldn't" be there. Around mile 17 we see Lynne's mom again and she gives Lynne another hug and wishes her well!! And then mile 18 happens.
|Yellow Shirt Girl|
Mile 18 Lynne is hurt. My heart is broken for her. She is so determined to finish out this race. We keep asking if she needs medic or ice and we offer any type of solution we have. We slowed our pace, we tried different intervals but ultimately, walking was the only thing that was gonna get us over this finish line. So that is what we did. We walked the last 8 miles of this race together. There were some tears and lots of "I'm sorry's". But for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what she was saying I'm sorry for. We mutually all agreed that unless we were in serious need of a medic or one of us were dying we were finishing together.
Mile 20. The saying is this: Your second HALF of your marathon starts at mile 20. I had no freaking idea what that meant until now. I can honestly say, what they say is true. Its mental now. You KNOW that there are 6.2 miles left and yet, somehow you have no idea how you are going to finish them. Some training plans only have you finishing 20 miles so I guessed that this might be one of the reasons there would be this mental thing. We went to 22 on our training program so I was thinking any mental instability would have come at this point. Problem is: it did! We passed mile 21 and we started talking about how this is the place we were cheering on the elites. Around mile 22 is the last of the housing development. We got a bottle of water from this little boy and his family. I'm so glad we did because after this point, there wasn't much of anything. No crowd, no people, no water stops, no porta johns. Let me rephrase. Mile 23 held some water. On a table. With ONE PERSON. It also had a few porta johns. Porta johns that nearly tipped over if you wanted to use them.I know this as I had to hold on up. There was also a truck that was taking porta johns away. Thank goodness they left TWO. This was the last water stop/porta john stop. After this you are on the "freeway" or shoreline..whatever you want to call it. I called it the highway to hell. And here is why!
Yup...you are correctly seeing that. The last 2-3 miles are long freaking hills and the freaking motorcycle police driving up and then following us mile to mile was starting to unnerve me. We were at the end of the pack but by no means were we last. We still had granny behind us.
|Shoreline from the 24 mile standpoint. Way more pretty!|
At mile 24, I texted Andrew and hold him we were safe and OK. I didn't want to tell him Lynn was hurt because I didn't want to cause panic. Lynne is smart and if she needed the medic she would have let us know first. He texted back and told me they had ice cold chocolate milk at the finish. I very clearly remember telling Angi and Lynne that I was done at mile 25 and this damn hill could kiss my ass. We were walking a very fast pace. One that I don't generally walk and my muscles were screaming. Someone recently told me it wasn't a race if doesn't hurt. Similar saying of If it was easy everyone would do it. I had muscles screaming at me that I didn't even know were attached to muscles that normally screamed at the end of a long run. Problem is, I'd walk after those long runs. I texted Andrew again and told him I was done. I didn't think I could do it. He kept texting me back and told me I was almost done. I needed to come get my medal. I was emotional and had the deep holding back teary eyes. Like the ugly cry on hold feeling. There were two people that cheered us on from 25-26. A man in a grass skirt and a guy with a drum. I've never been so happy to see a man in a grass skirt in all my life. He was so nice. He asked our names and did a little "ditty" and put all our names in it.
|Grass Skirt Guy Photo courtesy of : The Harp|
Six hours, 32 minutes and 35 second. 6:32:35. I have absolutely NO regrets. None. I wouldn't change ONE thing we did. I'm so glad we continued and stayed together. I'm so proud of Lynne running injured for as long as she did and then continuing to walk as if she wasn't in any pain at all not to mention her kick ass walking pace because that freaking kicked my ass! I'm so thankful for Angi for holding us all together because I was falling apart at mile 25. I'm so thankful for this bond that we formed through the treacherous hours of training in the never-ending winter. All of that couldn't have prepared us more for the weather we had. All of that training couldn't have prepared us for an unforeseen injury. But our faith in each other and our confidence in the training we did together knowing each others strengths and weaknesses did.
After getting our medals and pictures taken we went to the vacant and dead finish line party. Sad but true. No one there to say congrats. The chips and water and chocolate milk were being loaded up on trucks as we were walking by. The guys were kind enough to give us all what we wanted. I will give them that. Our one free beer was available to us and we even got an extra (guess that was ONE perk). Lynne got some ice and parked it for a few. There was really no reason to stay, there was no one there. :( We walked back to the hotel basking in all our glory. We said goodbye to Dana and Stephanie and Lori (our entourage) and Lynne and Todd graciously opened up their hotel room for us to shower since we didn't have a room. We stretched and talked a bit in the room and then said our goodbyes. It was one of those bittersweet moments. It reminds me of one of those movies where you just had this amazing climatic part and it just ENDS and you are left with WTH? I get it now. I was advised and I totally get it. I was asked if I would ever do another one and I said without a doubt "NO". Today, I'm not quite so convinced. Yesterday, I became a marathoner. Yesterday, I was able to push aside every doubt that I ever had about running. Because I did it. Because I didn't give up.
|Yup...THIS was the after-party. See anyone? Nope, we didn't either.|