I ran the Cleveland River Run Half Marathon on Sunday, September 11. It was a beautiful day, perfect for a race. It was supposed to be a "just for fun" run, but with the weather I couldn't help but push it a little bit. I ran a 10 minute per mile pace, and I ran the entire race for a change with no walk breaks. I pushed it a bit at the end as I felt like I could run another 13.1 miles :)
This continues to be one of my favorite half marathons. I've run it four years in a row, and it never disappoints. The medal is nice too :)
Overall it was a great experience. This race doesn't have an expo, but I don't mind because they mail my packet, saving me an extra trip or an overnight stay!
Now, about the marathon . . .
It was a busy few days. On Friday we drove to Dayton, picked up my packet, then made a quick trip to Oxford to drop things off to our son, then back home. The expo was average but there were some nice vendors. One issue for me was the way it was arranged. We entered the building and walked around, visiting vendors. I saw a few I wanted to re-visit. Then the path took us downstairs and there we picked up my packet. There were more vendors on that main floor. The exit only went one way however, and to get back to the other vendors would have required re-entering the building, and it just wasn't worth the effort.
Saturday morning we left around 2:30 a.m. to head for the race. It rained and stormed on the way there. Once we got there, I got on one of the buses to head to the race start. About that time they decided to delay the race for 1/2 hour. Even though the start time was a few hours away, they made us stay on the bus (safety first). Finally we left for the start.
It was still overcast, but the storm had passed. People gradually started filling the start area. We had been incorrectly told that no one was allowed to enter/park near the starting area, so Curt was not there at the start of my race. This is me waiting for the start!
As it was getting closer to the new start time, it got more humid and warmer. They didn't have race corrals, just flags with finishing times. I lined up at a slower finishing time. I prefer to be in a slower group than my normal pace so I don't go out too fast. The 10K and marathon start at the same time, and the half marathon starts 30 minutes later. So, at the start area there were all sorts of people milling around, making it difficult to find the proper pace time. As the start approached, the groups surged ahead, and I assumed I was still in the slower group.
Finally we started. By now it was quite warm and humid. There were two hills at the beginning of the course. I didn't look at my Garmin to see my pace - I probably should have! After the two hills I started to feel a little ill. I almost pulled out at mile six after spending some time in the porta-potty (I won't give too much information!). I decided to slow down and walk a bit - and I was passed by more than one pace group - I had definitely somehow gotten into the wrong one during the beginning race surge!
By the time I could take in any nutrition, it was too late for my muscles. I was cramping any time I ran for more than 1/4 mile. I walked a lot the rest of the race, but I was determined to finish. I saw several runners stopping and some likely didn't finish. One person dropped almost right in front of me - we were just past a water break, so we passed the message back, runner to runner, that medical help was needed. One runner stayed with him - he had some severe muscle cramps. A mile later I saw another runner almost drop and she limped to the aid station.
All in all, I am glad I finished! The medal is really nice. This was the 20th Air Force Marathon so it was extra special (and quite heavy). The course was not too bad; again not one of the best but not one of the worst I've run either. Some things they did right - there were water stops at just about every mile, and they had bananas at some of them. I discovered I can eat them during a race without issues! At one point they were handing out wet sponges and it was great to cool down! However, I think the delay contributed to my nutrition issues and I'm not sure it was necessary. We spend quite a bit of time at the starting area waiting.
I learned some things from this marathon and this training session (that's the point, right?). I learned that the training plan is working. I didn't have any problems that were caused by not being properly trained physically. As far as mentally, this marathon was a test of my willpower and stubbornness and I know I can push through adversity. The Cleveland half marathon was my best half since I returned to running! I also learned that I need try to be more rested on race day, or at least not to run a half so close to a full as I'm not QUITE as young as I used to be. I also need to work on my nutritional issues. I plan to keep training, after a short break (and by break I mean I won't push training this week). I want to run a long distance (20 or so miles) at least once a month and experiment with nutrition. I can stay close to home while running so it's easier to experiment.
Marathon Number Nine is in the books!
No Excuses/Gotta Run (later)