I have run the Cleveland Half Marathon twice before, both times I booked a Hotel and stayed in Cleveland. This time I signed up too late and all the hotels nearby the race were booked, so Ken and I decided we would just drive into Cleveland the day of the race. Having never done this before we were not sure about parking, RTA riding etc. The website for the marathon stated that runners should be at the start by 6:00 a.m. as there would be road closures. So.....we left Sandusky at 3:50! Yes that is 3:50 A.M.!!! Yikes! That meant arising about 3:00. I usually don't sleep well the night before anyway, but poor Ken. Needless to say, very little traffic at that time of the morning! Still no traffic the closer we get to Cleveland, we are thinking the race is today, right??? Parked at the West Side Market on 25th Street to take the RTA into Cleveland, got our tickets and as soon as we walked down the stairs a train pulled in....yes! Get to Tower City, get off one train, go through the gate to catch a train to Brown's Stadium and again..immediately there is another train! I am thinking this is going to be a good race for me, everything is going soooooo smoothly! Arrive at Brown's Stadium around 5:45 and still not many runners, so much for having to be there at 6:00 a.m.! Next year we will know better. It really wasn't bad hanging around the stadium...it was completely open and they were selling some refreshments. We sat in the stands and struck up a couple of conversations with fellow runners. What is so neat about this race is there are no port-a-potties at the Start, all the restrooms in the stadium were open for the runners, so you get to use clean, flushing toilets! Let me tell you, that is quite a treat for a runner!!!
Decide that it is time to wander to the start where you line up according to your pace. This means that being the "fast" runner that I am....I am in the rear with the walkers...oh well, I will never get used to this, but it is what it is. I did hear a few comments from some of the runners walking by, you know the ones I mean, the ones that are jogging around, bare chested, stretching, young jocks (sorry but they irritate me)..anyway they were making fun..pointing at the pace corral saying "this is where you belong, with the walkers" I just wanted to slap them!! You know what???? So, it takes me almost 3 hours to run a half, I am doing it, aren't I? Come back to me when you are 63 years old and see if you are still running!!!! Sorry, I digress! Join the rest of the runners and wait for race to start. There was a moment of silence for the Boston Marathon, then the National anthem........"Cleveland Rocks" starts blaring over the loud speakers....I just love that, I start getting emotional, I always do this right before a race starts and my brain starts saying "why am I doing this again?" That passes, it always does. Takes about 10 minutes for us at the back to get to the start and we are off!!! I forget that the first mile is uphill, how I forget this I don't know, but it is a good way to ensure that one doesn't start out too fast. However, I am feeling tired and sluggish and my legs already ache, not a good sign...By mile 3 I am getting warm, glad that at this point it is overcast and breezy, although why the breeze always seems to be in my face and not at my back, I can not figure.....glad I am carrying my own water. I still don't feel that great, but keeping my pace. Mile 5, I am starting to wear out, for some reason mile 5 is always bad for me, but I talk myself out of it...still going pretty good for me. Miles 6 through 9 are going through some neat neighborhoods, edgewater was earlier in the race, but going through Ohio City and Tremont is nice, although I don't remember much of it, unfortunately I was dwelling on how tired my legs were. I kept anticipating a huge hill at mile 9, which I thought I remembered from last year, but it isn't there, so I either imagined it last year or they changed the course a little. I took a Gel at this point, but I never seem to get that jolt of energy that other people say they feel when they take one, actually I felt a little nauseous, but I got over it.
At Mile 11 we started going over the Lorain_Carnegie Bridge which is quite a climb, I had to walk a lot of it, the sun was really beating down by now, but what goes up must come down, right? I tried to pick up my pace some going down, but I couldn't even do that for too long and I had to stop again and walk. Mile 12 I am thinking that maybe I will listen to some music, so I put my earphones in. I have never used music while running a Half before....I didn't like it. Took them out, the spectator crowd was picking up now anyway as we were back in downtown. Lots of noise and bands playing, which kind of got me going again, but then the right foot cramped up and stopped me in my tracks.....no, no...I will keep going gosh darn it! Rounding the corner and I can see the line of American Flags leading to the finish line...I am not going to get a PR, but I am going to finish under 3 hours if it kills me!!!!! I do finish and it doesn't kill me. As soon as I cross the line I look for Ken and see him right away! Yay, I made it!!! Once again I finished a Half and at that moment I do feel proud! My official time was 2:58:34, so under 3, not what I wanted but I will take it.
I really enjoy this Half and will do it again. Love Cleveland!!!!