Monday, May 17, 2010

Cleveland Half Marathon

Prerace: hanging around in our expendable clothes

One of the last things I said to my dad as we stood in the crowd assembled for the start of the Cleveland Marathon & Half Marathon around 6:55 am Sunday was:

"Last year at this time I was completely freaking out."

Indeed. Exactly one year ago I had saddled myself with the goal to end all goals: qualify for the Boston Marathon or else. I was about to run the most important race of my budding career and I was nervous as hell. The subsequent three and three-quarters hours were going to make or break me.

We all know how that turned out.

What a difference a year makes. With Boston four weeks in the past, my running life has taken on a leisurely pace. Oddly, however, I am running stronger and better than I was during my training for Boston. I feel amazing.

So. For this year's installment of the Cleveland races, I was merely going to run the half marathon. Nevertheless, my goal this time was similarly important: pacing my dad to a sub-2:00 finish. I was 99% sure I could accomplish this. After all, my half marathon PR is 1:43:01. Still...there was a little kernel of doubt in the back of my mind which whispered: "You haven't run more than 10 miles since Boston. You barely managed a 2:00 half there. Are you sure you can do this?" I fired back: "I have been enjoying running more in the past two weeks than I have for a long time. I feel great. Of course I can do this."

Ya gotta believe, people!

Just before the start

The weather was beautiful and ideal for running: about 50 degrees, a very slight breeze, no precipitation. It was 7:00 and the sun was rising in the east. Unlike last year when I was a bundle of nervous energy, this time I was completely calm and relaxed. I was just going for a Sunday morning jog with Dad.

Mile 1 was slow: about 9:30. It was to be expected. I knew we had to start chipping away at that deficit immediately, however. I bumped up the pace until we were under 9:00/mile.

Crossing the historic Lorain-Carnegie Bridge to the West Side. You can barely see it in this picture, but the statue on the right has been crowned with a Cavs headband.

By the time we hit Tremont at mile 4 we were cruising at around 8:45/mile. The crowds were sparse, and I thought wistfully of my last two marathons (NYC and Boston) where there were people shoulder to shoulder almost the entire way. The folks who were out at 7:45 on a Sunday were very enthusiastic, though. We passed by the West Side Market and St. Ignatius. We hit the halfway point in Ohio City, and then it was on to Lakewood. We made the turn onto Edgewater Dr. just before mile 9, veered onto the Shoreway shortly thereafter, and then it was one long slog back into the city. There was a long uphill during mile 11 that taxed me more than I expected. Dad got out in front of me by about 20 meters. I did not remember that nasty slope from last year.

On the Shoreway around mile 11.

The Main Avenue Bridge, Mile 12

The inclined stretch of road pictured (blurrily) above was the last major hurdle before the end. Once we crested the bridge and hit downtown on the other side, it was all out to the finish. I had peeked at my watch enough to know we were going to come in under 2:00 without any trouble. Dad was hanging back and I suspected something was going awry. I slowed until he caught up to me and then I said we only had about half a mile to go. He said his quad was cramping. It was just another couple of turns onto St. Clair and E. 9th and then we were on the homestretch on Lakeside Ave. Memories of hurtling down this same piece of pavement a year earlier washed over me. How light and easy I felt this time, how full of energy! I cruised in for a 1:56:54 official time, and Dad was a couple of seconds behind me. We did it! We had finished in under two hours.

After the race. The giant red thing behind us is the Free Stamp, a local landmark.

A short while later, we were able to see the men's marathon winner come in.

And then, of course: BEER. Mine was a Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout.

Speaking of beer...this is what I am enjoying at the moment. Thirsty Dog Cerberus (Akron, Ohio). I must give thanks to Viper for bringing this beer to my attention. I found this tasty brew at Warehouse Beverage on Mayfield Rd. in South Euclid, if anyone's interested.

I already have my next marathon training schedule stuck to my fridge. I have decided to run the early weeks of the schedule repeatedly until the real thing starts in late June. That way I can keep my base miles up and get some speed work in at the same time. This summer is going to be Serious Training. No more fooling around. Grand Rapids is going to be Cleveland all over again: qualify for Boston or else!

Race stats:
Official time: 1:56:54 (8:55/M)
Age group: 88/1145
Females: 514/6986
Overall: 1410/12449


Morgan said...

Great job to you and your dad! I soooo can't wait to start training for GR!!! :)

MCM Mama said...

Congrats to your dad! Great job of pacing him!

Love your choice of beer. ;o)

Carolina John said...

Your dad did awesome! beer looks great too. mmmmm. beer.

Steel Springs said...

Congratulations to your dad on his sub-2 and great job pacing him! It sounds like it was the perfect day for a race.

Funnyrunner said...

Good job! It is nice to have BQ behind us, huh? Sounds like you had a great day and the beer sounds yummy!

bunnygirl said...

That's so cool you got to run the half with your dad. Congrats to you both!

Viper said...

Don't you know that you're supposed to let your dad finish first when you're the pacer? Sheesh. Faux pas! Good post-race beverage choices. Glad you like the Cerberus.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

... there was a little kernel of doubt in the back of my mind which whispered: "You haven't run more than 10 miles since Boston. You barely managed a 2:00 half there. Are you sure you can do this?" I fired back: "... I feel great. Of course I can do this."

Then my third internal personality said, "I'm hungry!" To which my 4th personality (Big Mike - he's an Irish cop) - responded, "Fuck you! You're always hungry, you fat whoo-wer!" "Don't you DARE call her a whore, you beast!" said my fifth personality, Nigel the Interior Decorator. "I will SCRATCH YOUR EYES OUT!1!" "Shut up, ya queen!" yelled Big Mike.

Long story short, Big Mike no longer has eyes.

Yeah, I hear ya, sister. I know those internal conversations well.

Congrats on successfully pacing the dad.

The beer looks good. Don't let Big Mike have any. You know how The Irish get when they're drunk.

Robert James Reese said...

That's very cool. I'm always a little jealous when I read/hear about people getting to run with their dads. I tried to get my dad to do a 10K with me last year and he blew out his knee in training and ended up having to have a total knee replacement. Needless to say, I felt like crap after that. Glad the whole running together thing went better for you all. :-)

Xenia said...

Congrats to you and your dad! What a nice family bonding activity. :)

Run Jess Run said...

I'm debating about the GR Half. Have you run the course before?? I've ran in downtown a bit and don't remember too much hills, but I don't know the streets too much outside of Pearl and Monroe St.

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Weebs said...

Congrats to you and your dad. I loved reading your blogs and you have really improved tremendously on your race times over the past couple of years.

I'm impressed to say the least.

mr loser said...

Cool write up. How awesome to run an event with your father (good to see him dispose of that Turkey Trot shirt too, lol).