Running Around Cleveland


2011 Cleveland Marathon
May 16, 2011, 6:10 pm
Filed under: Goals, Marathon, Race Report, Running | Tags: , , , ,

I HAVE FINISHED 5 MARATHONS! Number 5 was my first time running the full marathon at Cleveland. For me it was a much different experience than I have had in any other one. But more on that later. First my major impression of the 2011 Cleveland Marathon, the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good: I love Cleveland. There is so much to do and see in this town, so much to be proud of. It really is a hidden treasure. This year’s course ran me though places sites of some of my fondest memories of my life here. As a life long Browns fan, being able to start and finish at the Cleveland Stadium was epic. It’s just too bad we couldn’t finish on the field like so many other races have done with their local sports venue, like the Akron Marathon. Running past Lake Erie and seeing Edgewater Park is always such a beautiful site. The neighborhoods like Tremont and it’s support for the runners really helped keep me motivated. Downtown Cleveland is really a grand site, from it’s towers and sport’s venues to Playhouse Square and Euclid Ave. Touring so much of it foot is really the way to do it. When I started struggling with my run, the course was reaching MLK and the Cultural Gardens followed by a stretch on the bike path along the shore of Lake Erie once again. Those sites kept my mind off my struggles. And the at last quarter mile as I was rounding the turn back to Cleveland Stadium to see John Adams beating his drum was just what I needed.

The Bad: Those of you who are not runners may not know this, but before a race runners like to poop. Yes, specifically poop and not pee. They pee too it just doesn’t seem impact their race in the same way when they have to skip it. Usually the starting corral of a major race is lined with hundred’s of Port-O-Pots, which, at the user’s discretion, can be used for either. Having access to the Cleveland Stadium’s hundred’s of bathrooms this year there was a distinct absence of these. This maybe a secret that I’m not supposed to let you ladies know about, but the men’s bathrooms having something called urinals. Unlike a Port-O-Pot, urinals can only be used for peeing. Each men’s bathroom having a large number of urinals for the target drinking crowds at the stadium caused the bathroom to have a very small number of stalls appropriate for pooping. There were only four of these in the bathroom I was able to get into. This led to many guys not be able to partake in a there normal prerace ritual. When running 26.2 miles, this can be a very important ritual.

The Ugly: Who would’ve guessed the Cleveland Marathon would grow so much in just one year. I am greatly pleased by this fact. I love that more people are running fast or slow (my first marathon was in 6:10) and walking marathons. I love that runners and walkers are choosing my favorite city to run in. But the increase in participants and the move to a smaller starting corral had some major deficiencies. The majority of the problem I don’t even see as the marathon organizers fault. To their credit, for many years they have split the races into different starting times. I also understand that they had to have their starting area planned before the realized the growth that would happen this year. My major problem was with the inconsiderate and rude runner’s in the starting area. When I was a slower runner, I always lined up in the back of the corral. As I have gotten faster I have moved to the middle, and now I am moving a little in front of the middle. I do this so that I don’t interfere with runners who move faster than me. In this smaller starting corral, to be in line with my pace group, I had to stand in an inch of water in the grass. That didn’t bother me. When the start finally went off, before I could get to the start line, I had basically been pushed back two pace groups. But I was OK with that. When I crossed the starting line and went around the first few turns I couldn’t even see my pace group. I’m not pleased at this point, but understand that happens with big races. My anger flared when as I tried to get up to pace I found what was holding back me back. There walkers and slow runners who decided to start at the front the corral, and not just a few, enough make it nearly impossible to pass them at points where they lined themselves up across the course. It took me several miles to actually be able to get up to pace. Whatever happened to freaking courtesy. While this is not the organizer fault, I would recommend to them that when a race becomes large they should consider using a wave start.

My Race: As I said earlier this was a very different race for me. First, I have never trained in the winter for a spring marathon. I have always run fall marathons for which my training occurs in the summer. Training in the winter was so very different, but so worth it. I have never experienced the joy of running in the snow whether falling or on the ground. I have never experienced the silence of running in the outdoors in a snow fall. I had always dreaded the notion of winter running, but it will a part of my life from noe. It truly was a wonderful experience.

Second, I have always trained with a running club. They have always kept me motivated and honest when it comes to my training. But this marathon training was on my own. It was accomplished completely by my own will and spirit. I am person that truly struggles to keep myself motivated and yet I was able to complete this on my own. I will always train in the summer with my club, Northeast Ohio Fit. They mean so much to me. They got me across my first marathon finish line. But there was a different level of joy for me on this day when I crossed the finish line at the 2011 Cleveland Marathon.

When I run a marathon, I set 3-4 goals. My first goal was to finish. If I am physically capable, I will finish. If I run, walk, use crutches, or crawl, I will cross that finish line. Growing up with a handicap brother and being a guy who used to weigh 287lbs, I understand the blessing I have in being able to physically complete a marathon. GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!

My second goal was to finish a marathon with a average pace of less than 10:00 min miles. My former best marathon pace was 11:17. My average pace for the Cleveland Marathon…. 9:38! GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!

My third goal was to set a PR by more than 40 minutes. It sounds harder than it is until you realize how much weight loss can impact your speed. For this race I weighed 30lbs less than when I set my PR. And I did PR again…. by 42 minutes. GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!

My fourth goal is what I call my “If the stars are aligned goal.” If everything goes perfect this is what I am capable of. This goal was to run a sub 4 hour marathon. My time… 4:12:33. Goal failed.

But 3 out 4 ain’t bad!

So the question I have been asking myself is what mistakes did I make that keep me from that goal? If the conditions were right I could have made it. Some conditions like the weather, the bathrooms, and the rude runners were out of my control. But others were mistakes I made. So as I look back I have discovered these mistakes. First I let myself get a distracted by the bathroom situation, that altered my early race temperament. Second, this temperament allowed myself to become overly anger at the rude runners which led to a mistake. I wanted with people of my pace so bad that I ran hard enough to catch with my pace group in less than 3 miles, when I couldn’t even see them at the start. My next mistake was to allow the cool weather to distract me from the humidity that I knew was there. Humidity is harder on me than heat, but I refused electrolytes only drank water over halfway through the race. On a side note, the thought of sports drinks was making me ill. But since I let myself get agitated early on, that could explain this aversion I have never experienced before. They bad decision on electrolytes eventually led me to becoming cramped around mile 16 which slowed my pace significantly. So the conclusion I have come too is  that I missed my fourth goal do to myself.

But I’m not disappointed, I was crying tears of joy when I crossed the finish line. I had accomplished this on my own. But that wasn’t the only thing to make me so happy with this race. There is a wonderful communities runners in Cleveland that support each other. It was so uplifting when I saw Molly and Kali at mile 25 cheering me by name. I have never met them till this weekend. We had only shared running experience with each other through blogging and Twitter. But they cheered me on! When I got too the finish line my NEOFit teammates who ran the half, Terri and Brenda, and the 10K, Lori, were there waiting for me even though they had finished hours ago. The 2011 Cleveland Marathon has brought me to a new level as a runner and I will never be the same again!


12 Comments so far
Leave a comment

You did great!!!

Comment by Kimi

Thanks Kimi. I can’t to hear about your 1st marathon in Columbus this year. I plan on being there too.

Comment by Justin

Great post and congrats on your excellent race yesterday.

Comment by @Beal88 aka Matthew Beal

You did awesome too! Your 1st marathon beat my 1st marathon time by more than 1.5 hours. Way to go maniac.

Comment by Justin

Justin! You are a total rockstar! You did so flippin’ well! And you looked SO strong at mile 25. It is so easy to let even the smallest thing that doesn’t go your way on race day have a large impact on you, and it can really rattle you. You have come so far as a runner, and you are only going to keep getting stronger, and will continue to learn so much more about yourself and your capabilities! It was SO great to meet you and to cheer for you! Great job!!! 🙂

Comment by mollyberries

I was having struggles at mile 25, but when I heard you guys shouting my it really gave me blast of energy. Hopefully I can keep these speed increases coming and keep up with you one of these days. I loved meeting you too, and as soon as Jess and Matt become maniacs I owe the 3 of you round of drinks at the first official Cleveland Marathon Maniacs meeting. By the way there is at least one more Maniac in Cleveland, I meet her around mile 9.

Comment by Justin

Three out of four is better than “not bad!” Way to rock it out! (:

Comment by daysgobyandigrowstronger

Thanks! I’m loved what I accomplished in my run and did’t mean to imply otherwise. I was crying for joy at what I accomplished when I crossed the finish line.

Comment by Justin

Awesome job on the marathon and the PR! You are a rockstar, we will have to have a maniac get together sometime soon!

Comment by mojamala2

For sure, but it can’t be an official meeting till you and Matt have numbers. 😉

Comment by Justin

Awesome job! It was so great seeing you, I honestly couldn’t tell at all that you had been struggling! Congrats again and I can’t wait to be cheering at the next marathon!

Comment by Kali

Nice post-race report! Can you compare Cleveland to Akron? I am registered for the Cleveland full next month, and I ran Akron in 2011. I thought Akron was a great race, but a really difficult course. The 2-3 mile climb out of the valley did me in, and the last 10k was a real struggle. I see from the elevation chart that Cleveland has some hills. They don’t look nearly as tough as Akron, but I’m wondering if the hills gave you any trouble during the marathon or if they were minor bumps along the way. Thanks!

Comment by Jessica McLalin Shehab




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