The whole weekend was amazing. On Friday I went to the VIP reception at the Hyatt downtown (thanks Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!). There was lots of great food there, and I ended up meeting Coach Jenny who is the official training consultant for the Marathon. Later in the evening I met up with some of the other bloggers: Joe, Renessa, and Stephanie. I think Karen and Christine were there but I did not see them.
|Bloggers Renessa, Stephanie, Joe and myself along with Joan and Jen from the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon|
This morning I got up bright and early to make sure I got downtown with plenty of time to get a good parking space. I ended up with a spot on W. 3rd very close to the start, which I was happy about, but I had tons of time to kill so I just waited in my car for about 40 minutes until it was time to start warming up. After a truly awful winter we were rewarded with great weather for this race. Cool but not too cold, and very little wind. After the warmup and a quick stop in the port-a-potty it was time to lace up the flats and head to start. On the way there I saw Emily and Joe. It was my first time meeting Emily in person. She was doing 10k the after doing a tough mudder the previous day! Wow!
The start was divided into corrals, and I was in corral A, just behind the elites. The system seemed very efficient and we had plenty of space at the start and I never got boxed in during the race. I got a little cold waiting around in the corral. I had gotten to the start a bit earlier than usual and they delayed the race by 5 minutes, but overall it was not a big deal.
My goal for the race was to break 35. At the start I just tried to run a nice smooth pace as I always do. We went down to Superior to E. 18th then past the CSU campus before turning onto Carnegie. Somewhere along E. 18th a gap had emerged and I found myself leading a small group of runners with another group about 30m ahead. As we went past Progressive Field I was feeling pretty good so I started pushing a little to close the gap on the next group.
I knew the Lorain-Carnegie bridge would be one of the toughest parts of this course. It's a long gradual uphill as you go across the bridge, but you are rewarded with a nice downhill on the other side. I really focused here on trying to close the gap so I wasn't running in no man's land. Once we reached Ohio City on the other side of the bridge I could tell that I had gained some ground.
As we went up W. 25th I was gaining faster and just as we turned onto Franklin I had caught up to the next group. The rest of the way through Ohio City and onto the shoreway I was just trying to hold my position and not lose contact.
The shoreway itself was definitely the toughest part of this race. It was deceptively uphill and the Cleveland skyline seemed so close and yet so far. I lost contact just a little at this point. I reminded myself how in many of my previous races I was running completely alone by this point in the race and now I finally had someone to run with. I just kept fighting with everything I had to keep it close and once we crested the final hill and passed under the sign for Lakeside exit I just let my stride out and let gravity carry me.
The last 200m was a frenetic sprint down Lakeside using the roar of the crowd to keep me going. Not only had I held my position on the hills of the shoreway, but I had actually managed to catch two people in the final sprint. My final time was 34:34, good for 21st overall. I was very pleased with this time as it was well under my goal pace. Also, in this race I felt like I really gave it all I had and ran up to the best of my ability, something I think I had failed to do in the previous two races.
After changing back into sweats and trainers I headed over to the VIP brunch (thanks again Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!). I grabbed a few pastries and sat at a table by myself. As soon as I sat down two of the elite Kenyans from the 10k, Robert and Robert, sat down at the table with me! It was really neat talking to them about their background and there training. One of them was in the same training camp as Wilson Kipsang! We talked a lot about various elite runners: Bekele's and Farah's marathon debuts, medal hopefuls for the Rio Olympics, the possibility of Galen Rupp moving up to the marathon, and so on. It was probably one of the coolest running experiences of my life.
I really can't thank the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon enough for this opportunity. The race was great and the whole weekend was an amazing experience!
And a huge shout out to my fellow bloggers. I loved reading everyone's posts the last four months and I just want to congratulate you all not just on the race itself but on all the hard work you put in to get to this day!
Can't wait til next year!