Monday, October 7, 2013

Race Report - Rock 'n' Roll Cleveland Half Marathon

Half marathon number 5.  Yep, the girl who swore she was never meant to be a runner has now run in and completed 5 half marathons.  It's crazy.

My friends and I are always on the look out for races that look like fun and have cool medals (yes, sometimes, it is all about the bling), and we found this one way back in the spring.  Becca and I signed up for the half marathon, and when they announced that there would be a mini-marathon, Jen signed up for it.  After I registered, I told myself I would train my little butt off so I could run a PR.

As training progressed and as I gauged my fitness level, I pushed the PR goal back to my November race and switched my focus to just beating the time from last year's Marshall half.  I was optimistic that I could do it, but I knew it was going to be tough.  I also knew that conditions would have to be 100% perfect on race day for it to be a possibility. 

Race day came and as it turns out, conditions were not 100% perfect (are they ever?)  6:30 in the morning and it was already 72 degrees and muggy. (I believe my words as we left the house were "holy humidity batman!")  And as it was "that time of the month" I was feeling a little sluggish and achy.  But it was a race!  I was with my best friends!  I was happy! (really I was)

how can you not be happy and having a good time when you get to do things like this at the race expo:

Or when you wear fun socks, arm warmers, and a sparkly skirt like this:

You can't!  Especially if you're running with friends (with equally fun sparkly skirts):

Jen ran the mini
Becca and I ran the half

I started in corral 8 with Becca so we could give each other moral support as we waited for the start.  She tried to get me to start in my correct corral, but I was sticking with her to help eliminate the pre-race jitters I always get when I'm by myself at a start line (mission accomplished!)  Once the gun/air-horn went off and it was our turn to run, I stuck with her for little while.  We got separated about a quarter mile in due to the crowds and my faster pace (don't worry I didn't ditch her - it was our plan all along to run our own races).

A little past the mile 1 marker I saw another familiar racer running strong on the opposite side of the course.  I dodged and wove (weaved?) my way across the runners to give Jen a pat on the back and was off on my journey.

To be quite honest, I don't remember much about the race other than I was hot, tired, achy, and starting to get hungry.  I was so focused on just putting one foot in front of the other and getting to the finish line that most everything else faded into the background. 

What I do remember:
  • I ditched my time goal after mile 5 because I knew it wasn't going to happen. 
  • I  made sure to grab a water and/or gatorade at every aid station to stay hydrated (and the gatorade tasted much better if I poured the water into it). 
  • I took a strawberry banana Gu at an aid station to try to stave off the hunger - it was a bad flavor choice, but the little bit that I did swallow made me feel better and more energized (note to self - check out other flavors.)
  • I walked way more than I wanted to
  • I  kept looking for Jerry (the amazing guy from the Komen 3-day who would pop up at various points on the course to shout encouragement to the walkers).  He wasn't there, but there was a different guy providing encouragement and reminding us that we were strong and could do this.
  • I had a race angel: I was struggling at mile 13 and walking toward the finish line, when another runner (who had already finished) ran up beside me and said "you don't want to finish this walking; it's only a tenth of a mile. Come on let's run. you're strong; you can do this!"  I responded, "yes I can.  I can do this!"  As I ran away from her I heard her say "Yes you can! Go for it!"
And I did.  I finished running.  It wasn't a strong run or a fast sprint, but it was a run:

As I crossed the line, I heard a "GO MELISSA!"  from the crowd - My friends were there waiting for me!  Such an awesome feeling - my very own cheering section! (such a small thing, but when you're used to being at races on your own, it's a nice change).

I got my medal, a bottle of water, a bottle of gatorade, and a chocolate milk (i'm not normally a fan of milk, but that was the best tasting ever), and joined the girls on the sidelines to wait for Becca to finish.   She too finished strong and had her own race angels to get her through the day.   And Jen finished her 3.5 mile mini with a new found (or maybe re-found) confidence in herself.

So all in all, it was a good, but tough, day for all of us.
Happy finishers
Race Stats:

2013 Inaugural Cleveland Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon
October 6, 2013
Time:  2:52:43 (Garmin); 2:52:41 (official)
Pace: 13:03 mpm (Garmin);
Place: 4305 of 5044 overall; 2566 of 3140 women