After running my first full marathon last October, I was eager to do another one again. During the winter, I spent a lot of time debating whether to run the full marathon or half marathon at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.

In the end, I decided to go with the half marathon.

Part of my decision had to do with the fact that I would have had to start training on the day after we moved into our new home. Although I had never previously owned a home, I knew that moving in wouldn’t be a quick and painless endeavor. However, I knew that I could squeeze in the training if I really needed to do so.

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Most of my decision had to do with the fact that I had heard many horror stories about the second half of the marathon. One of the reasons I run is because it allows me to have some quiet mental space and time for reflection, contemplation, and relaxation. I’ve never done a “group run”—although I’d like to do one someday—and I’m used to running by myself with only my music to accompany me. Because of this, crowd support isn’t a big factor that I consider when making my big race calendar.

However, there’s a difference between not allowing crowd support to control my decisions and appreciating crowd support towards the end of a race. During my first full marathon, the amount of crowd support during the last 5.2 miles of the race was nearly non-existent. Once I said goodbye to my dad and stepmom at mile 21, I saw probably about 5 other spectators before I reached the finish line area. This part of the course wasn’t extraordinarily scenic either. Although the experience built character, I sure wouldn’t want to do it again.

Because of that, I knew that I’d want my next marathon to be one in which there was a bit of crowd support towards the end. Unfortunately, nearly every runner that I knew who had run the Cleveland Marathon had told me that crowd support during the entire second half of the course was nearly non-existent.

As a result, I decided to run the half marathon.

Now, I wish I had just sucked it up and trained for the full marathon.

Why?

Because the organizers of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon have listened to the countless runners who bemoaned the desolate second half of the course, revamped the full marathon course, and created a great new course that has me already looking forward to running the full marathon in May 2015!

cleveland marathon course

Looking at the route, I can already predict that the residents of Lakewood and Rocky River are going to come out in force and help send the runners of the full marathon back towards downtown Cleveland feeling energized, supported, and encouraged. Runners who enjoy beautiful homes will have plenty of eye candy as they journey down Lake Road too.

Those of you who are running the half marathon may be wondering how this course change affects us. Let’s talk about that!

For starters, we’ll be tackling the sneakily difficult incline on the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge earlier in the race rather than later in the race. I don’t know about you, but that bridge is a lot harder to conquer than it looks, and I’m glad we can get it out of the way earlier in the race.

guardians

Love these statues! (Source: analienmind.wordpress.com)

Although I didn’t run last year’s half marathon with a time goal, I found that I had a lot of trouble getting into a solid rhythm during the last few miles because of the twists and turns in the final mile or so of the course that went through downtown. I’m running this year’s half marathon with the goal of improving upon my 1:59:10 half marathon PR (personal record) time, and I am looking forward to running on the long, straight expanses of the Shoreway towards downtown Cleveland.

How epic will it be to run towards downtown Cleveland with Cleveland’s beautiful skyline looming ahead?

Cleveland Skyline at Dusk

For those of you who aren’t from Cleveland, the highway in the foreground of the picture is the Shoreway. What a great ending to a race! (Source: city-data.com)

I’ve heard some folks worry about a lack of crowd support on the Shoreway. Don’t be. There were plenty of spots along the Shoreway during last year’s race that had ample amounts of crowd support! If people were out to cheer last year at 7:00AM, I’m sure they’ll be out this year later in the morning.

I just started my official training plan for the half marathon this week, and I’m so excited for May 18. I hope you are too!