Today I woke up at 5am to the sound of pouring rain. Things didn’t improve much by the 7am start of the Cleveland Marathon, and the rain continued for most of the first hour or so of the race. It was my first time running Cleveland, and unfortunately the hometown race did little to impress me. The parking situation sucked, and luckily I was able to improvise and navigate some side streets and find a lot to park in. I then got to the starting area, and waited forever in line at the port-o-potties. Luckily the race started a few minutes late and I was able to squeeze into the masses for the actual race start.
The first 3-4 miles were pretty chaotic. It was very crowded and cramped, and as usual there were quite a few idiotic walkers that felt the need to start near the front of the pack so they could inconvenience thousands of runners who had to dodge them during the first few miles. At one point, we turned down some narrow side street that was incredibly poorly paved, and it was so tight that I felt like I was in Spain doing the running of the bulls. I missed the first water station because by the time I realized it was there, it was too crowded to move over to grab a drink. Things thinned out a bit once we got to the west bound Shoreway, though it made for an incredibly dull four miles since it was a spectator-free area. I hit the 10 KM mark at 52:30 and felt pretty good.
I made it to the halfway point, 13.1 miles, in 1:52:36, so I was on a 8:35/mi pace. At mile 14, as we headed out to the east side along Chester Avenue, the sun finally poked out and stayed out for most part. My pace was slowing at this point, but I still felt fairly good after downing some energy gel. The sun made things a bit warm, even though it was only in the low 50s, and I started to regret the long sleeve shirt I was wearing.
One part of the race I did enjoy, was running along MLK and passing through the Rockefeller Park and past the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, which is where Kristy & I had our engagement pictures taken a number of months ago. I passed the 30 KM mark at 2:40:33, and my average pace had slowed to 8:48/mi. We then made it up to Lake Erie, and started the 4+ mile run between the coast and I-90, another least favorite running spot of mine (which is also part of the Hermes Cleveland 10 Miler). After that, we passed the Rock Hall and Browns Stadium before looping around some downtown streets and hitting the finish line at St. Clair and E.12th. I finished in 3:54:29, for an average pace of 8:56/mi. I was happy with this, because I knew my training had not been great and my goal was just to get in under 4 hours. So now personal bests this time, but I actually felt good at the end of the race, which isn’t really something I’ve been able to say in the past.
Would I run Cleveland again? Probably not. I’d take Akron’s marathon, even with it’s hills, over it any day just because it was more enjoyable to me. As far as any future marathons, those are on hold for now. Getting married at the end of August, and taking a long honeymoon, has ruled out the chances of running one this fall. Plus I think I’m ready for a new challenge, which will probably be improving my “short game” and trying to best my times in shorter distance races. I’ve proven that I have the endurance, now I want to work on my speed before trying to tackle the marathon again.