After a great last training run on Thursday, I was pumped for race weekend!
Sheila and I began the weekend by attending the VIP Reception at the Hyatt Regency in the Cleveland Arcade on Friday night. Going to the Arcade always brings back great memories of days when my mom and I would go to downtown Cleveland to check out computer games from the Cleveland Public Library and eat lunch in the Arcade afterwards! A small (but mighty) contingent of Official Bloggers attended, and it was great to catch up with Brian, Renessa, and Stephanie. (For those of you who would like to check out all of the other great 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Official Bloggers, check them out here)
As usual, the food was amazing. I think that I ate at least four plates of food. If any of my friends who are planning to get engaged and married in the near future are looking for a great venue for your reception, you won’t go wrong with the Arcade!
After a great night of sleep, we hit up the Expo on Saturday afternoon. I was hoping to find a pair of reasonably priced running shorts, but I had no luck. I’ve been wearing the same two pairs for races and training runs since July 2012, and I need to find something new!
On the evening before a race, I like to watch an inspirational movie to get me pumped up for race day morning. We were going to watch The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, but then I noticed that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was available at Family Video. When I first saw the trailer for this film, I thought it looked pretty bad. Sheila likes Ben Stiller and she really wanted to see it. Over the past few months, some runners had told me that they thought this movie was inspiring, so I decided that we could give it a shot.
I’m so glad that we did! The movie got me pretty pumped up for race day morning, and the tagline “Stop Dreaming. Start Living” was just what I needed to see as I headed to bed. I told myself that tomorrow morning was the day on which I would stop dreaming about setting a new half marathon PR and finally go out there and get it done!
As usual, I was too excited to sleep much on Saturday night, but I woke up with plenty of adrenaline on Sunday morning. I dropped off Sheila—who was leading a team of volunteers from Scranton Road Ministries C.D.C. at the Mile 4 water stop—and headed downtown, evading a few road closings along the way. I found a great place to park with plenty of time to spare before the 7:00AM start.
The forecast said that the weather would be in the 50s, but I was pretty cold when I arrived. I thought long and hard about what to wear, and I eventually decided to forgo my running jacket. I’m glad that I did this because the weather became quite nice by the end of the race. As it was, I was pretty overdressed! I would have shed my tee-shirt, but my bib was attached to it. In the future, I think I’m going to start pinning my bib to my shorts so that I can add and remove top layers pretty easily.
On my way to the starting line, I bumped into Emily, one of my running friends from Twitter whom I have known for over a year but had never met in person. She did the 10K, which is an accomplishment in and of itself, but an even bigger accomplishment in her case because she had conquered the Tough Mudder on Saturday. I also saw Official Blogger Brian again.
Around 6:55, I made my way over to Corral C. I’ve wound up starting in the back in many races this year and I have subsequently found myself spending most of the first mile weaving around people instead of running in a straight line, so I told myself I would line up in an area in which runners with similar paces would be running. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t done this, because I wound up standing still for almost 15 minutes and my legs got pretty cold. Doing more yoga and stretching in the days before the race would have helped too, but I know that standing still didn’t help either.
Eventually, the announcer signaled the start of the race and we were off! I was hoping that Johnny Manziel would pop up and surprise us, say something encouraging over the loudspeaker, and ring the starting bell, but that didn’t happen. Darn!
One of my priorities for the race was to ensure that I didn’t come out too quickly. I knew that there were significant inclines towards the end of the course, and I didn’t want to run out of steam too early in the race. Over the past year, I have learned to pace myself and trust myself and to know that I don’t need to run a blazing fast first mile in order to set a PR, and I told myself that I would shoot to run the first mile at about a 9:00 min\mile pace.
When my watch indicated that I had passed my first mile, I noticed that I had run a pace well under 9:00 min\mile. However, I hadn’t seen the course marker indicating that I had completed my first mile. I eventually saw it and noticed that my watch said 1.25 miles and a 9:33 time.
This really, really threw me for a loop and I began to wonder what was going on. I wasn’t sure if the distance on my watch or the time elapsed were incorrect—or perhaps both were incorrect—but it sure was distracting. I didn’t feel like I had run a 9:33 mile, but I knew that I would have to run very hard for the remainder of the race in order to have a realistic chance at a PR if 9:33 was my time for my first mile. I wanted to see if other runners had the same issue, but I didn’t want to slow down or bother anyone else. I powered onward, but I felt a bit confused and lost on the streets of my beloved city and I began to wonder if I was going to be able to meet my goal of setting a new half marathon PR.
The saga continues in Part 2…stay tuned!