Monday, May 21, 2012

2012 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Race Report

There is so much I want to say about yesterday.  I don't even know where to start.  First off, I want to thank the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon staff for holding another great race this year.  I also want to thank them again for allowing me to be a Official Marathon Blogger.

As the week approached, I began to grow more worried.  As each day passed, the forecasted temps increased.  Thankfully, the race started at 7am when the temps were in the high 60's.  Unfortunately, the temps would be building to the mid 80's during the race.  To battle the temps, I increased my electrolyte consumption throughout the week.  I was still worried as i'm a bigger runner and the heat effects me greatly during runs.  

Race weekend arrived and I had a great time meeting new people and visiting with friends who are very inspirational.  I know the race is getting beat up pretty bad over the $8.00 parking at the IX Center.  Seriously people?  Last year's expo had free parking, but people complained it was too far away.  This year it was much closer, but runners wanted free parking.  Unfortunately, there isn't the space downtown for an expo right now.  Even if there was.  You'd be paying more for parking than at the IX Center.  Please keep in mind the situation the marathon directors have before complaining about something as petty as $8 dollar parking.  

I woke up Sunday morning fresh and was ready to go.  My training and race preparation had gone flawlessly.  Probably one of the dumbest things I did was still run in my all black run outfit.  I agonized over the decision all weekend.  I knew the black would be hot, but I didn't want to break the "nothing new on raceday" rule.  Even though it was forecasted to be hot.  I was sticking to my goal of breaking under the 4 hour mark and if it got too hot.  I would try an PR under my best time of 4:37.  

When I arrived at the start line.  I was quickly able to find my friends and posed for these pictures.  Big thanks again this year to the Cleveland Browns for allowing us access to the stadium.  

I made my way to the corral about 15 minutes prior to the start.  They lengthened the starting area this year and it seemed to help a lot.  I bumped into a few more friends at the start and it was nice visiting with them prior to the start.  As the clock struck 7 and the start began.  You could already feel it getting warmer.  

The first 5K

I made the first climb up 3rd street and a quick right up the shore way bridge.  The runners were much better this year and I only bumped into a few people who were already walking.  I was able to establish my early goal pace of 9:00 through the first few miles.  As I approached the first water stop, worry began to set in.  My legs felt like lead and it felt like my feet were striking the ground harder than they should.  Hoping it was just taper rust I forged on. 

Through the 10K

Winding around some flat roads, I arrived at the 10K point.  At this point you could see the effects of the new corral system.  The roads were crowded, but not to the point where you were blocked by any runners.  The crowds were great and people were lined on both sides of the road.  I didn't pay much attention to them as my full attention was on my pace, heat and legs of lead.  I was through the first 10K at 57:57 with a pace of 9:20.  I was a little off on time from my goal pace as took it easy through the water stops.  My plan was that the extra fluid would pay off later in the race.  

Through mile 13.1

From the 10K mark through the half way point, the wheels began to fall off.  We made our way through the westside including Tremont, Ohio City, and made our way back downtown.  The temps were still rising and it was probably in the mid 70's at this point.  Mile 9.8 is where I first noticed a course change.  It was a steep decline followed by a steep incline at mile 10.  The hill itself wasn't anything that I would describe as a killer.  It was just well placed for hurt and with the heat, it felt like a mountain.  I was due for a GU so I walked the first half and took in my GU.  At this point I started to realize I didn't have the legs for sub 4 hours and began to calculate out what I needed to do to achieve a PR.

After the hill I made it to the mile 11 water stop.  I slowed down and as I grabbed my water.  I looked down and began to feel dizzy.  I nearly fell over.  Quickly recovering, I went to into panic.  Did I almost pass out?  What is wrong?  What the hell is going on?  I'm at mile 11 this can't be happening!!!!  My mind began to race.  I made my way up the bridge back to town and you could begin to see the casualties of the race as the bridge was littered with firetrucks and ambulances.  

I made my way back to town realizing I was in for a long day.  I started harboring thoughts of dropping out.  I could save my legs and quickly register for a marathon next week in Buffalo or later in Canton.  I decided to just finish what I started and devised a run/walk plan.  I did see fellow marathon blogger and good friend Jessica Bagwell at mile 12.  I made it to the halfway point in 2:07, which was 12 minutes off my goal pace. 

Halfway through 20

As I approached East 9th Street I began to feel worse.  My cramps were getting more frequent and I was still fighting bouts of dizziness.  It was an odd time for me as I had never been faced with this decision before.   Should I stop?  Can I run/walk this out?  My heart rate is at 185 and I have not seen it below 160 since mile 5.  Can I die from this?  These were all things that were all running through my head.  I honestly wanted to quit.  It was when I reached Euclid, that I decided to go for it.  My reward? A death march done Euclid to the MLK.  The temps at this point had to be well into the 80's.  I couldn't run more than a 1/4 mile before I cramped up.  I ran into Matt who is a Ironman and TNT coach for this event.  He walked with me for a bit at mile 14 and provided me with the inspiration I needed to keep going.  The death march continued done Euclid as there was no shade and I was frying in the sun.  My cramps continued to get worse and my walks got longer.  My feet began to swell really bad and felt like they were about to burst out of my shoes.  Once I reached the MLK, there was more shade and I was able to run a little more.

Still fighting cramps and dizziness I continued on.  I was taking on massive amounts of water and power ade at every stop.  I couldn't keep hydrated as my mouth was completely dry minutes later.  I began to worry if I was going to make it.  I began to struggle to keep my emotions in check and was fighting back tears.  I couldn't believe all my hard work training was for nothing.  The heat and miles were breaking me down.  I found myself questioning what I did to deserve this.

Mile 20 through 25

I made a left and hit the bike path.  Hoping the breeze off the lake would help, I tried to run it.  I made it half way and boom, cramps.  This time the wouldn't go away.  I could barely walk.  Somehow I forged on.  As I climbed off the path into the road portion.  I heard the race had gone from yellow to red.  At this point I just wanted to try and finish without suffering a heat stroke.  Even if it meant walking the remaining 4 miles.  I ran into Matt Oravec again at mile 24.  A special thanks to him for walking with me and sharing some of your salt tabs and water.  I helped a ton.  At this point of the race the heat index was at 100.  I don't even want to know what the road temp was.  I am sure it was something sticky on the road, but it could literally hear the bottoms of my shoes sticking to the ground.  If I didn't know any better.  I would have thought they were melting to the ground.

Coming towards the end, the volunteers were counting down the blocks to the next water stop.  It was nice as it helped gauge your effort.  I had been waiting all day to reach the mile 25 water stop.  The water stop at mile 25 was the Autism stop created by Christian Heller and his wife Kelly.  Also waiting for me were my good friends Jill and Rikki.  I know they didn't believe me, but seeing everyone at mile 25 is the ONLY reason I continued.  They work so hard in their efforts that day and with their work with Autism.  Their inspiration kept me going.  I was so happy to seem them that I immediately began to fight back the tears when I saw the Go BEAL signs.  Some quick hugs and a chugging of a Summer Shandy and I was on my way again.

Christian aka Richard Simmons at the mile 25 water stop.

The finish.

The motivation and hopefully the beer I got at mile 25 gave me the energy to jog out the last mile.  I was so thankful to see the Galleria and I made the right turn and down the hill I went.  I reached the finish line and it was very emotional.  I was happy to survive without injury, but I was also sad.  You could hear ambulance sirens constantly for the past 2 hours and I felt bad for all those who didn't make it.  I also struggled with disappointment and shame.  I invested 143 hours this year into training and it was all ripped away by my cramps.  I do hope someday I look back at this as more of an accomplishment in the fact that I fought through a mountain of adversity versus the disappointment of not reaching a goal.

Thank you again to all the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon staff and all the volunteers.  No event is perfect for everyone, but keep in mind that they are trying to give over 20,000 runners a perfect experience and they do a great job.  I would recommend this race to anyone.

I also want to thank everyone for their support through my training and via this blog.  You guys have been a great help and I greatly appreciate it.

My favorite post race tradition.

All black Nike Running cookies from Kristy Hill

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Show me the baby

This year I feel like I have failed as an Official Marathon Blogger.  I really haven't posted any informational or inspirational posts.  I'm not sure exactly why, but I just wasn't able to come up with anything good.  Hopefully I haven't disappointed too many people.  I did think of something today and I thought I would share it with everyone.

Ever since the weather forecast posted.  It seemed like you could divide the runners into two groups.  Those that are freaking out and those who say the race is early and it won't be that bad.  Regardless, its gonna be hot and its not going to be easy.  At first I was in the freaking out group, but now I am a new third group i'm calling the:  Bring it on group.  

Atleast it won't rain like this.
Why the change?  Well, I decided I can't change the weather.  It is what it is.  What I can change is my attitude is and my preparation.  The heat may slow me down on Sunday, but you can bet I will fight the conditions with every stride.  Its going to be a battle on Sunday and I am ready for that battle.  

For those of you who didn't know.  I was fortunate enough to play baseball in college.  When my coach thought you were mentally week.  He would always yell....


What he meant by this is don't stress about the effort.  Just get the job done.  This is the attitude I will have on Sunday.  I'm not going to spend time stressing about the adversity.  I going out there Sunday morning and I'm gonna run my ass off for 26.2 miles.


Half marathon last year in the low 90's.

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Training Recap

I thought I would write a quick training recap as I'm basically finished with marathon training as of today.  I'll do a quick jog on Saturday to take the legs out of recovery mode and knock the rust off.

Overall, I couldn't be happier with how training went.  Sure, I had my moments and pains like everyone else, but I was basically injury free for the past 18 weeks.  Last year when I first started training for my first marathon, this is how I pictured it would be.  This year has gone much better.  The weather for the most part was good.  Though, I think March and Aprils weather patterns were switched.  I did get a total of three 20 mile runs in and each one I improved my time and this has helped my confidence a lot.  Even though I've lost 18 pounds already this year, I had hoped to be lighter on race day.  Regardless, I feel much more prepared for Sunday than I was last year.

Below are my 18 week training totals:

Total miles:  1,326

Running:  646 miles at a 9:16 average pace.

Cycling:  678 miles at 17.6 mph

Swimming:  1 mile

Time invested in training:  140 hours 43 minutes and 27 seconds.

Cals burned 132,347.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Music Monday

Trance is one of my favorite genres of music and i'm surprised it has taken this long to share one of my favorites.  It is a great uplifting song and a blast to run too.  The song is called, Black is the new Yellow and it is by Super8 & Tab.  Enjoy

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon - Week 16 training

Week 16 was another good week for me.  This was my first taper week as I begin to heel up for the big race in 2 weeks.  After last weeks 20 miler and 8 miler in a 24 hour period.  I decided to place more focus on cycling this week.  By doing this, I am able to keep my fitness level up while giving my joints a break. As a clydesdale, my joints take a beating on 20 mile runs and I like to give them a break after that long of an effort.  On Wednesday, my workout turned into quit the rage run/ride.  It turned out to be good though, as I have a few duathlons planned in the near future and was able to gauge where I am at with my multi-sport fitness.  The rest of the week was spent resting and preparing for the Indy Mini Marathon.  I won't go into that now and should have my race report up within the next week or so.

This week will be a continuation of my taper.  I have some ideas in place for what I want to do.  Some of which are a little unconventional.  I haven't finalized my decision yet, so you will have to tune in next week to see what I decide.

I am a massive race fan and couldn't pass up the chance to pose next to an Indy car at the race expo.

20.26 mile ride at 16.8 mph

21.64 mile ride at 18.1 mph

31 mile ride at 22.5 mph
2 mile run at 7:30 pace

Rest day

Rest day - travel to Indianapolis

Indy Mini Marathon

Rest day - travel back to home

Miles:  88.02 miles
Calories burned:  5,205
Time:  6:08:11