Whew, done. Overall thought - ouch. Just ouch. I ran like a n00b today, no two ways about it. To give myself a little bit of slack, I ran 1:29:50 in 2014 and then got massive plantar fasciatis. After 18 painful months off, recovery has been slow and I am just really grateful to be able to run 13.1 at all.
But still, I ran like a n00b. I had to relearn lesson #1 - respect the distance, and aim for negative splits. DO NOT go out with the pack, unless you are in that kind of shape.
Also - thank the good Lord, the rain held off. For the entire week beforehand, the forecast was awful, like 95% all day from 2am to 11pm. We got no rain at all, although the full probably did in the last third (started around 9:45).
The race started by Quicken Loans Arena. It was awesome - it's always better when the start is around an arena or a stadium. Practically, the bathroom situation is just way nicer. If you get downtown around 6 am, that is enough time to wait in the line to get in the Q, find a deserted bathroom and do the necessities. Parking was pretty easy too - we parked over on E9th by Progressive Field (still want to call it the Jake). Easy peasy.
4 or 5 years ago, the Cle Marathon went to corralled starts, and it was a great choice. It is just better for everyone - you start with people much closer to your pace so generally you aren't running people over or vice versa.
The new course was pretty sweet in the early miles. Good tour of Cle favorites - the Q, Playhouse Square, the science center, browns stadium - plus the band around mile 3 (an AC/DC cover band) just rocked. I wish they were at mile 10! I was running with the 7:26 pace group, and I noticed our splits were under that, significantly, averaging 7:12 ish. I actually think this was an OK strategy generally (although not for me given my fitness level) because I think they were banking some time for THE HILL OF DOOM.
Lets talk about the newest feature of this race. There is a really neat part that goes down into flats, on Columbus road. You go over this cool bridge (tip: get left if you can and run on the pavement, not the metal grating). The problem with going down into the flats is.... well, you've got to come back up. The hill around mile 5 is... well pretty brutal for Cleveland. You go up about 100 feet in around a third of mile. What is funny is that I had trained hills pretty hard for relay that I did in April (Seneca 7, check it out, it is awesome), but this hill still sucked.
Don't get me wrong, this years course has one of the lowest total elevation gains of any Cle Half I've run - Garmin clocked it at 365 feet. That is actually very flat. Doesn't change the fact that this hill sucked. For reference: 2014 was 420 and 2013 was 460. I'll say this - I think Id actually prefer more elevation overall, with more gradual hills than this years HILL OF DOOM.
Thanks to my cheer leading squad, showing up at mile 6.5. You guys put a smile on my face, and helped me keep going.
Miles 4-7 feel very familiar to anyone who has done this race in the past. It is a good route, with lots of spectators, and after the big hill the course is pretty much flat to the end.
Last third of Race
First: the course was pretty good. I'd say this - I really liked the 2014 course that went out a bit more into lakewood, but the tradeoff there is that you finished on the shoreway which was completely bereft of spectators with cowbells. Finishing on Detroit was a lot nicer. So no complaints about the course whatsover.
Personally, the wheels came off for me around mile 9. Even though I had run some really good distance runs in the 13-15 mile range, I just had nothing left in the tank. There is where I paid the price, dearly, for those early fast miles. My original intent was to put in mostly 7:30s in the beginning, and I just failed to do that. Consequently, my times started dragging pretty bad at the end. I can actually say I've never considered quitting in a race before and the thought crossed my mind a couple of times.
People were passing me left and right that I had passed much earlier in the race, and rightly so. They ran smart, going for negative splits. So be it. I managed to put one foot in front of the other, and picked up Steve, my bro in law, who was also struggling about 3/4 of mile out from the end. We dragged our, *ahem*, butts over the finish line.
Still though, I had fun. It was a well run event, and the course was pretty cool. The race served the mandatory post-race beer, and to my happiness they had a selection of Great Lakes brews. The line was long, but moved extremely fast, like 5 minutes. The finish was in Public Square and I walked out with a banana, 3 granola bars, water, milk, and a bag of pretzels. They certainly didn't skimp.
The band in the beer garden, Old School, was really fun. The finish medal this year is awesome because it's the 40th anniversary. Legit, it is huge, one of the biggest in my collection.
Side note: Every time I've run this event, my mileage has come out over 13.1. I realize this is probably me not running the tangents, just a data point.
If you want the gruesome details: