Monday, May 16, 2011

2011 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon - A weekend I'll always remember.

I survived!!!  I'm a marathoner!!!!!  I still can't believe I ran 26.2 miles yesterday and this was a weekend I will never forget.

The final preparation for Sunday's marathon began this past Friday.  I was a nervous wreck and spent the day with the mind running wild.  I wasn't so much nervous about the distance itself as I was with the preparation.  I had read an article earlier in the week that Friday would be the most important day for hydration, carbohydrates, and sleep.  Being that this was my first marathon, I was pretty stressed over doing the right thing.  If I had it to do all over again.  I probably would have taken a half day at work and attended to the Expo during the afternoon.  I think I would have relaxed more.  I capped Friday off having dinner at Casa D'Angelo with fellow runner @JillMEarle.  It was a great time and I had a blast discussing running, taper, and the big weekend ahead.  I got to bed early and logged a solid 9 hours of sleep.

I woke up Saturday and the nerves set in again.  I had planned on attending the Expo in the early afternoon as several Tweeps were going to be there and it would have been great to attend the Expo with them.  I made the decision go up their at the opening as I felt it would be better to spend the afternoon relaxing at home than walking the Expo.  I made the trip up to Euclid and with the help of the Garmin, I easily found the place.  I was really excited to attend the Expo as last year's Akron Marathon was my only other large race.  I didn't know what these events were and just went to get my bib.  I regret that now and was looking forward to visiting each booth.  I made my rounds and picked up some good deals.  I was a little disappointed all the shoes I liked were sold out of my size, which wouldn't have been the case if I went on Friday.  Also, it seemed like the womens items were way better than the mens.  I did see @RachaelMarchini and it was good to visit with her for a few minutes.  After the Expo I went back home to relax for the rest of the day.  I also went for a short 2 mile run to get used to the spibelt and body glide.  That evening I got my gear together and consumed my last bit of carbs.  At this point the nerves really set in.  The fact that I would be running 4 plus hours in the morning had set in.  I was fortunate to fall asleep about a half hour later and slept till my alarm went off at 3AM.

I have a set routine I do in the morning and I like to get to races early so I can prepare.  So, I was up at 3 in the morning getting coffee at McDonalds.  I was surprisingly pretty calm while getting ready and headed to Cleveland at 4:30.  I was fortunate enough to have a VIP parking pass for being an Official Blogger for the marathon and arrived at the stadium at about 5:15.  Parking was 25 yards from the start finish line too!  I made my way over to the stadium and had my first pitstop of several that morning.  It was really nice for the Browns to allow access to the stadium.  It was great to use an actual restroom versus a port-a-pot.  I headed back to the car and made my last good lucks to everyone and tried to relax as much as possible.  As this point worry began to set in about making to the finish.  About 45 minutes prior to the start, I slammed a GU and headed into the stadium again to spend time with the fellow runners prior to the race.  I was lucky enough to run into @Mojamala2, she was running the marathon as well and we discussed the race and if any other tweeps were around.  I went down to the start about ten till 7 and attempted to get in line.  As luck would have it, I lined up right behind fellow running tweep @seesararun.

My only major complaint was the road for the start was not wide enough to handle the 19,000+ runners. Either a wider road is needed or the pace groups need to lengthen out.  My other complaint is towards my fellow runners.  I know I have only been running for about 9 months, but I already understand runner's etiquette.  Please! line up with others that are your speed.  Also, the walkers need to start in the back.  My biggest complaint as well as the hot topic on twitter yesterday was the cluster of runners that lasted for the first 10 miles.  No matter what I tried, I never could establish my pace because I would get stuck behind a pack of slower runners or walkers with nowhere to go.  I spent the first 10 miles complaining to myself about the running traffic.

Ok, enough with the negative.  We were pretty lucky as the conditions ended up being a lot better than what was in the forecast.  There was a good bit of fog that was lifting and the temps were in the low 60's.  Also, there was next to no wind at this point.  As I plugged along, I was amazed at how many people were out cheering us along.  The first 13 miles were packed with people braving what could be a potentially wet day.  The route began with a fair amount of climbing and then flattened out through the next ten miles.   The route took us by lakefront, Ohio City, Tremont, the westside market, west 6th, Tower City, and Progressive Field.  Apart from the amount of running traffic.  It was the most scenic route I have ever ran.  I was also happy to meet a few runners who recognized me from this blog too.

The half marathoners split apart at Tower City and this is when the real journey began.  I felt really good at this point.  Partly because I held up for so long.  My first half split was 2:11, which is the slowest I have ever ran 13.1 in.  I wasn't upset at this time as I figured it would help me at the end.  The work and established a good pace down Euclid.  Mile 18 came pretty quickly and this was the first point that I began to tire.  I was excited to get to MLK as the route video made it look like a slight grade down and I figured I could make to mile 22 fairly easily.  Well, that did not happen.  The MLK was a much steeper than I had expected and I struggled getting down it.  I looked at my watch and had expected to be making time up and was running my worst time of the day.  In a attempt to settle down, I kept repeating..get to mile 20 by 3:30 and you'll be good.  Also, kept repeating get to the lake and it will be flat.  What came next was mile 21-24.

I think part of the joy of being a marathoner is telling your first marathon horror story.  I've heard every thing from hallucinations to blacking out.  When I hit mile 21, everything began to fall apart.  I started gagging and thought I was going to throw up.  At this point I stopped and tried to calm myself down.  I tried thinking about the finish to get motivated and my emotions went nuts.  I started sobbing while thinking about finishing.  Managed to start running again and immediately began hyperventilating.  I stopped again and attempted to calm myself down again.  At this point I arrived at the lake and was happy to run on flat ground.  The joy didn't last as it began to rain and the wind off the lake was murderous.  The temp also began to plummet.  At this point I was surprised to see the 4:30 pace group and I hopped in for the next mile.  I ran with them till about 23 and fell apart again as I couldn't keep up.  This was a crushing blow that I struggled to deal with and emotions went nuts again.  At this point, I was pretty much broken and began to wonder if I would even make it in under 5 hours.  When I got to mile 24, my Ipod saved me.  I never had this song on a playlist before and I don't even know why I added it.  What came on was Till I Collaspe by Eminem.  I hadn't had a second wind yet and it kicked in with this song.  I started to run with authority again and telling myself I would be done in 20 minutes.  I was worried if I was lose it when the song was over, but what I hadn't realized that miracle #2 of the day was about to happen.  I was running along with about 1.5 miles to go and I go see two girls cheering me on to my right.  I couldn't hear them as I had the headphones cranked on high.  As I approached they ran out on the road and at this point I realized it was fellow runners @mollyberries and @finishingfirsts.  I quickly ripped out my headphones to say hello.  They provided me with some much needed support as I tackled the end of the race.  I dug deeper than I ever have in my life trying to hide how tired I was in front of these fellow runners.  Their support continued and they got me to the final left in front of the Rock Hall.  Making that final turn was something I visualized all through training and the race.  It was more than anything I had ever imagined as it was a wall of noise and were people cheering me on.  I lost it as I  could see my family cheering me on and crossing that finish line is something i'll never forget.  I quickly received my finishers medal and found my parents.  The hugs from my parents and sister were a moment I will always cherish.  I couldn't believe I made it and if I wasn't so sore today.  I'd think it was all a dream.

I would like to thank everybody again for their support.  I also would like to thank the Cleveland Marathon again for allowing me to write these blogs for them.  Also, thank you for the Monday Marathon Twitter contest.  If I hadn't won.  I doubt I would have attempted running the full marathon.

I woke up this morning feeling like yesterday was the end too Chapter 1 of a great book.  I am not exactly sure what Chapter 2 will bring, but I am looking forward to experiencing it.  I hope you enjoyed these blogs and feel free to continue to stop bye.  I have a feeling it's gonna be a great year.

I'm the one they call Beal.....and now you can call me a MARATHONER!


Allison said...

Great report!!! We all fall apart at some point in some race.... it's getting through those and to the finish that make us strong and FINISHERS! You are amazing!! It's been great following you to your the rest sould be easy...triathlon perhaps????

Anonymous said...

I am going to go ahead and start Chapter 2 for you. Buffalo Marathon and a PR! Let's become Maniacs!

Anonymous said...

So I'm such a girl and just teared up reading this! Congratulations again! I'm so excited to hear what's next :)

She said I need a goal said...

OMG I was riveted with every word. What an amazing accomplishment!! You are incredible.. Love your recovery drink.

Matty O said...

First off, if that was Christmas Ale in that glass... I will find where you live and rob you right now!

Second, FLIPPING AWESOME REPORT! Wow man, felt the whole race all over again the way you told it.

Welcome to big races, people always line up wrong. We started out a minute/mile ahead of our plan knowing this would happen, guess what, at 8:30/mile pacing area, the MASS was doing sub 10 min miles. I pushed through, I don't care about offending people, I will never see them again ;)

Dude, you hit "the wall". I have had that in 3 of my 5 marathons. It's brutal. It takes everything you can muster up to get control of yourself physically and emotionally. You want to quit, you want to sprint, you can't do anything haha. Way to collect yourself and honestly just crush this thing!

Very respectable time as well might I add man, honestly you really impressed me with your dedication and your finish. Like I said, all the 10k and 13.1 finishers took all the mylar blankets, when Heather finishes marathons she starts convulsing because her body starts freaking out. Wish I could have seen you finish, that is an amazing experience!

Onward buddy, time to refocus your sights and start a new adventure :)

Jason said...

Dude this was awesome. I am getting a little teary eyed just from reading it. Great things ahead for you.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Freaking awesome!!! I loved this whole report and so proud of you. When you hit that wall, like we all have in the past, your mental toughness training kicked in. You freaking rock

kimi said...

CONGRATS a million times over. You did it! I hope when I attempt my 26.2 mile journey in October I can gut it out like you did!

Erika said...

AWEOMSE JOB!! I ran Cleveland as well and was worried about the weather...I'm so glad it held up for us! great job on becoming a marathoner!!

Anonymous said...

Your blog shouldn't be called "I'm the one they call Beal", it should be more like "I'm Beal and I'm a Bad Ass Marathoner!". You are a total rockstar! Seriously, you looked so strong at mile 25, I am so happy Kali and I were able to hop in and see you to the finish! Gosh, this story just gave me goosebumps! I have hit the wall too, and it is a horrible, low, dark place. I am so glad you were able to dig you way out of it. You have so much to be proud of! PS. The soreness should be starting to wear off tomorrow. :)

Colleen said...

I love it - you are a freaking marathoner! :) Congrats on a great race!

Q said...

Wow! Such an honest post and I totally dig it! I have never run a full marathon, nor do I have any desire to but it's amazing to hear the honest emotional stories of friends who do, especially where they hit the wall! What an amazing accomplishment! Many many congratulations again!!!