Sunday, October 6, 2013

Rock n Roll Cleveland Half Marathon Race Recap

Ok so the Cleveland Rock n Roll Half Marathon.... Where do I begin?  First, let me start off by saying, I went with my niece.  This was her 3rd half marathon and I've attended all three with her.   It's so exciting to be a part of her day.  I've said it before, but I never would have even imagined I could do a half marathon at her age.  I'm so proud of Abbey!

Way back when Abbey told me she wanted to do the Rock n Roll Cleveland and I told her it wasn't really a good race.  I'll be honest, I don't love the Rock n Roll events.  Don't get me wrong, they're well planned and fine, but they're just not my favorite.  Usually the expos are lame and I don't particularly care for the blaring sub-par music along the course.... But, I digress.  I told her it would be "fine" but, at that time, I wasn't planning on attending.

As time wore on, I realized I wouldn't be able to do the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon so I started thinking about other fall alternatives.  I remembered the little birdie (Abbey) talking to me about Cleveland.  I texted her and she said she was a definite "in" and so we registered.  

As was expected, the expo was rather lame (aside from a few cute pics) and we left quickly.  Me, sans new Sweaty Band (no headband booths there at all beside bondi bands) and Abbey without a shirt (nothing to choose from).  I expected the lame expo, but not to leave without a sweaty band.

Due to the forecast (70% chance of rain), I decided to wear a hat anyway.

We went out for a nice Italian dinner and effectively carb loaded.  By the way, I don't necessarily believe in the carb load (and definitely not the night before) but I always eat pasta the night before a race.  It's just something I do.  

The good thing about a destination race and staying in a hotel is that you don't have to wake up super early.  We got up at 6:30 (for an 8:00 am start).  It was so nice to sleep in on a race day.  We ate peanut butter toast in our room and headed out the door at 7:40.  

Abbey's friends came to cheer her on and of course my sister was there to cheer on myself and Abs.  Sorry to my sis for not being pictured.  RUDE of us!

Oh wait, we did get a pic.  There she is on my right.  

We arrived at the corrals (behind us there) just as they were starting the Star Spangled Banner.  Now that's arriving on time.  We snuck into our corral and waited just a bit.  Despite telling myself not to be nervous, I was.  I don't know why.  I guess it's just party of racing (for me). 

My sister told me she would be at mile 4, 7 and 12.  We had a plan and it was nice knowing going into it that I had something to look forward to.

The Rock n Roll race does do a good job of starting.  There are 8 corrals and they are let off every minute.  As our corral got released everyone shot off and there was no weaving through slower runners or through over-crowded areas.  We just cruised along and FAST.

Way too fast, in fact.  The first 3 miles were ridiculously fast (for me).  Abbey and I were pretty much running side by side and I told her we needed to back off our pace.  She said it was a good idea, but neither of us slowed down any.   Later I found out she thought I wanted to run that pace and vice versa.

When I hit the 5k split, I knew I needed to slow down considerably.  I won't lie, I had a little glimmer of hope that my body could handle that pace, but reality quickly set in and I settled into my pace.  At that point, I lost Abbey in the crowd.

Mile 1:  9:29
Mile 2:  9:47
Mile 3:  9:47

Around the 3 mile mark we went down a curiously steep downhill.  I thought to myself, OH NO (because I knew that meant there would be an uphill at some point).  But then at the mini marathon/half marathon split the mini marathoners were going up a huge hill.  I laughed at those suckers and went along my merry way.

Well curse me because guess what, there was another hill just before the 4 mile mark and it was a steep little bitch and I walked that thing.  I told myself to take the short-term loss for the long-term gain and I didn't feel badly walking at all.  As soon as I crested the top, I started running again and I'm glad I did because my sister was there to capture the moment.

I think I was cursing about the damn hill as I passed her by.  Is was good to see her there.  I definitely needed some support after puffing up that hill (even though I walked it).

Mile 4:  10:28

Around the 4.5 mile mark I realized I had made a huge mistake.  I had gone out too fast and I realized probably hadn't train enough.  I really was running the bare minimum and realized then and there that 4 miles should feel easy at the end of half marathon training (and it didn't).

I decided to Gu early in hopes of gaining some energy and I promised myself I'd only walk hills and the water stops.  I would NOT walk because I felt like it because let's face it, at this point, I would have walked the rest of the way.

Mile 4 to 7 were rough.  I was beating myself up mentally for going out too fast and I was mad at myself for being so stupid.  I was afraid I had gassed myself out and I wouldn't recover.  I prayed that all I needed was a little energy and hoped the Gu would do it (along with sipping Gatorade and water at the water stops).

Mile 5: 10:14
Mile 6: 10:32

As my sister promised, she was at the 7 mile mark there cheering me on.  I really needed to see a familiar face at that point because my energy was drained and my body was in pain.  My feet hurt (I was working on a good blister), my hamstrings were aching, my achilles were tight and my hips were sore.

I told my sister I had started too fast, and she told me I could do it.  I passed her happy, but not sure what the future would hold.  I was hopeful, but not entirely sure if I could hold up.

Mile 7:  10:25

Luckily around mile 8 I got the second wind I had hoped and prayed for.  It might have been a combination of a few things, but I really think it was seeing the leading runners (on this portion of the course which was out and back).  Seeing the leading runners (who were on mile 11) pushing so hard inspired me.  I realized that each and EVERY one of them were working hard.  No one seemed relaxed or cruising if you will.  They all seemed to be working hard.  I promised myself right then NOT to give up myself.  I would work hard and not just cruise.  I wouldn't accept good enough.  I would continue to push myself through the mental game (and the physical).

Miles 8 through 11 were pretty hard.  I was pushing, like I said and it seemed to take forever.  I was just trying to make it to the 12 mile mark where I knew I'd see my sister and hopefully get that last push I needed to finish strong.  She promised she'd be at the end of the bridge.

Mile 8: 9:59
Mile 9:  10:25
Mile 10:  11:14 (another flipping mountain!!!!!! I walked)
Mile 11:  10:00 (trying to make up for lost time)

I was so happy at mile 12.  With just 1.1 miles to go I decided to give it everything I had.  There was really no reason.  I wasn't going to PR and I didn't have anything to prove.  I just wanted to know that I had done my very best out there today.  I saw my sister and for the first time that day, I think she saw me happy.

It so much better to run happy and I was finally happy.

I ran as fast and as hard as my body would let me until the finish, never letting up despite my body REALLY wanting to.

Mile 12: 10:24
Mile 13: 9:45

Total Garmin Time: 2:15:23   (13.31 miles) 
Average Garmin:  10:10 

Official Time: 2:15:23 (yes my garmin and official time were EXACT matches.  Too bad the course I ran was long) 
Official Average:  10:20 

My goal going into this race was to finish in less than 2:17 (my first ever half time).  I did that and for that I am happy.  Am I happy with the way I'm running right now?  No!  I want to return to my former self, but I am extremely proud of the way I ran today.

I pushed through and gave it my VERY BEST effort.  I know that a 2:15 was all I had in me today.  I know for sure I couldn't have done anything better (today).  I pushed myself when I wanted to give up. I ran when I really wanted to walk.  I never gave up.  So yes, I'm proud of my 2:15 today.  My PR is out there for another day.

Speaking of PR.  Abbey managed a 6 minute PR, by chasing down this guy today.  Ok that's not true.  She did PR by 6 minutes, but she wasn't really chasing this dude.  She just thought he was nice eye candy and chose to have a picture opportunity with him.  Ha!  Let this be a lesson in "never judge a book by it's cover".  This dude is running a 2:30 marathon despite looking like he should run a 1:30.  So yeah, no matter who you are, or what you look like, running ain't easy!

Once again, I'm so proud of Abbey and I know she'll continue to grow and improve at the Half Marathon with each race.  Hopefully I'll be by her side again (and again, and again).

A big congrats to my friend Justine too.  She ran an awesome race after coming off a PR at the 10K Great Race last weekend.  You rock Justine!

As for this girl.  Well, I'm just glad it's over and I feel very proud to have completed my 12th half marathon today.  

Oh and by the way, it never rained a drop.  Stupid forecasters!  


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