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After two great training runs during the week, I was stoked for my weekend long run! I was prepared to go 9.5 miles, which would be a 1 mile increase from the distance of the long runs that I had conquered over the past two weeks.

While I enjoy the tranquility and peacefulness of the Towpath, I figured that having at least one run on the final part of the Cleveland Marathon course would be helpful. Additionally, familiarity can often breed contempt, and I’ll need to get in multiple runs on the Towpath throughout the summer as I prepare for the Towpath 10-10 in June and the Towpath Marathon in October. In order to guard against getting bored with the Towpath, I decided to head downtown for my long run.

My goal time is 10 minutes per mile, and I headed out with an eagle eye on my New Balance GPS watch to make sure that I didn’t start out too quickly. The excitement of the day took over a bit, and I wound up with a 9:30 first mile. I didn’t feel tired in the slightest, so I kept on going.

At this point, the run started to take a turn for the worse.

As I rounded the corner onto the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge, I was nearly run over by a group of young bicyclists who failed to notice my presence. Bringing up the rear was an adult who must have thought that I was invisible because he didn’t say anything to me either. I didn’t expect a profuse apology, but a simple “Sorry about that” would have been nice. I know this is small, but it put me in a really bad mood.

As I ran across the bridge, I noticed that all of the riders had dismounted and that some of them were hanging over the edge of the bridge in order to get a better view of what was below. This sight made me incredibly nervous because it wouldn’t have taken much for them to fall over! Although the chills that went through my body whenever I looked at them had the nice side benefit of cooling me down, I started to get very fearful whenever I looked over. I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate for me to go over and tell the parent that he might want to keep the children under his watch from falling over, so I kept on going.

Once I reached the other side of the bridge, I realized that I had forgotten about the prospect of a Cleveland Indians game. Sure enough, traffic was heavy in both directions and policemen were directing traffic. I needed to cross two streets and both of them had large amounts of car traffic. Ugh!

Ordinarily, I wait for a break in traffic and dart across the street. However, this approach nearly landed me a ticket for jaywalking back in 2007 when I was rushing against the light to The Q to watch a Cavs playoff game and a policeman informed me that I could have received a ticket.

I decided to play it safe, follow the traffic lights, and wait for the police to tell me when I could cross. This resulted in a great deal of running in place for several minutes, which totally threw off my time because I didn’t stop my watch. (I should probably learn how to actually use all of the features of my New Balance GPS Watch, right?)

After much frustration, I finally began the process of crossing the last street when I was startled by an insistent car horn.

I thought, “If this is someone honking at me for being in the street, I am totally going to flip out.”

With trepidation, I looked up…and I saw three people in a car giving me three enthusiastic thumbs-ups!

Their encouragement put a lot of wind in my sails, and when I put my headphones back on and heard Too Short’s “Player’s Club” (one of my favorite songs), I pinned my ears back and headed towards the lakefront!

Maintaining a slow and steady pace, I finally reached the lakefront at around the 45:00 mark of my run after I had conquered 4.3 miles. I’m pretty sure that my pace was slightly over 10:00\mile and that the remainder of the time was inflated by waiting at traffic lights.

For some added inspiration, I ran around the perimeter of Voinovich Park before I headed over to Cleveland Browns Stadium. Sheila and I went here on the night after we started dating way back in 2004 and hung out until 3:30AM! Needless to say, this park became a special place in our relationship, and I proposed to Sheila here on October 14, 2006 on a typically cold and wet Cleveland fall evening!

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The magical night of October 14, 2006! Our friends set up a blanket with champagne, rose petals, a storybook about our relationship that I had written, and much more and it was there waiting for us when we got there.

I decided to try out Gu for the first time to see if my body would respond well to it because it’s been distributed at the water stop around mile 9. Most of the time, I consume Shot Bloks on my long runs, but since the Gu is available and free I figured that I should see if I like it in advance so as not to cause problems on race day. I consumed a very delicious Mandarin Orange Gu as I circled the park and enjoyed the views of Lake Erie.

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Beautiful woman, beautiful city!

As I circled Cleveland Browns Stadium, my foot started to hurt and the run began to feel extremely long. Even though I was about halfway done, I started to find myself fading and I began to worry about how I would be able to power through the last 8 miles of the half marathon. Shortly thereafter, the Gu kicked in and I found myself ascending the infamous West 3rd Street hill with confidence and increased energy!

From that point on, the remainder of the run passed pretty quickly. Unfortunately, the day was a bit hot and I started to feel extremely dehydrated as time went on. Running past the various outdoor bars on West 6th and seeing patrons enjoy cold beverages didn’t help much.

As I ran towards home, I felt myself gradually regaining strength and I knew that running 9.5 wouldn’t be a problem. However, I also knew that I didn’t want to leave too many miles to chance on race day, so I decided to bite the bullet and go for 10 miles.

In order to do so, though, I knew that I’d need to get more water. My water bottle was empty by this point. I had a water bottle set out on my porch and told myself that I would enjoy a big gulp of water as I passed by my house, but I began to realize that I couldn’t run for another mile without some water. I ducked into a local coffee and record shop called LOOP that was on my route, filled my bottle, and dashed right back out. The water was a bit warm but its invigorating effect on my body was indescribable!

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Even before they served as an oasis to this weary runner, LOOP has been one of my favorite places to go in Tremont. Their iced tea is fantastic and I can’t think of one instance in which I’ve been there and they weren’t playing great music. (Photo obtained from their Facebook page)

I also consumed another delicious Gu. Those are definitely a hit in my book! The orange and lemon flavors are my favorites.

I swung by my house at about the 9.3 mile mark, rehydrated, and kept on going through the southern part of Tremont until my GPS watch displayed double figures for the first time in my life!

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10 miles in 1 hour and 47 minutes. Not too bad!

During my cool down walk, I thought to myself, “Wow, you just ran half the distance of the longest training run that you’ll need to do if you run a marathon!” Although I wasn’t feeling totally exhausted at that point, I definitely couldn’t imagine running 10 more miles. Then again, I couldn’t imagine running one mile when I first started running last June and could only run two or three blocks before I got winded…and now I’m able to run 10 miles and cautiously optimistic about my ability to run the entire 13.1 without stopping on May 19th at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Half Marathon! .

For those of you who are training for the big day on May 19th, I hope that you are feeling confident, injury-free, and excited!