Going into race weekend I had a very specific game plan for this marathon. I trained hard and planned to give it all I had but I never shared with you my goal. My goal was to run with the 3:35 pace group until mile 20 and then push the pace then to a 3:33:30 finish. It sounded easy enough to me and based off my training plan I was confident I was ready.
A lot of people were concerned about the weather but I decided to ignore the weather all week and pray for rain. I trained for a specific race and I was determined to run that time. The only thing I needed to know from the weather was what to wear.
I got downtown early this morning and met up with the rest of my ambassador crew and stayed calm before the race as I have some major race nerves. The Ambassador crew was absolutely amazing this year, I loved hearing about their training throughout the year! As I got into my corral I realized that my pace team was not in my corral but that actually all the pace teams were in the A-B corrals. So I broke a race rule and went up snuck (snuck is not a real word) into the corral where my pace team was. I absolutely hate when people do this so I am sorry for being a hypocrite but I had a plan!
When I got into my pace group, I ran into a fellow Second Sole runner, Crystal as well as fellow Ambassador PAM! Just before the race started, it started to rain. Not a downpour (I don’t think) but enough to get wet…and cool everyone down. I had went back and forth on if I wanted to wear a hat today so I was suddenly second guessing that I didn’t have my hat!
When the race started it was the normal start and go until we actually reached the timing mat to start the race. Naturally, it was crowded and I did a lot of weaving but I finally got to the pace group again and literally glued myself to them. Also part of my plan. I will literally run on my pacers heels or right next to them.
Miles 1-7: 8:17, 8:08, 7:58, 8:00, 8:04, 8:00, 8:12
As we ran through the streets of Cleveland I was very focused on my race and put a smile on my face to keep me relaxed throughout the run. I let the pace group dictate the pace even when our watches had beeped when we weren’t at the mile markers yet.
My plan was to take a Gu at mile 7 but I was feeling kind of full and not really wanting a Gu yet so I pushed it off to mile 8. I had a plan and it didn’t include eating Gu at specific miles, it included gluing myself to the pace group. I was still with them so that’s all that mattered.
Miles 8-16: 7:57, 7:53, 8:19, 8:02, 8:02, 8:12, 8:09, 8:07, 7:59
At mile 8, I finally took my first Gu and immediately felt a boost from the sugar and caffeine. You see, the week of the marathon, I gave up caffeine. As if running marathons wasn’t crazy enough. Throughout the entire race I had grabbed water at every water stop. I took a small sip and then poured a little on each arm to keep myself cool.
Normally, I run with music to keep my nerves in check. However, I waited til almost mile 9 before I finally put them in my ears. I was enjoying the race and the crowds and my friends who came out to cheer.
Especially this little one who had a road runner sign and kept asking “Where is Jess going?”
Now as much fun as I was having on the course, I realized I was having a slight problem…I was full! I felt like I had demolished an entire meal. I couldn’t even think about opening my second Gu. Luckily, I had packed some Run Gum with me so I was able to get a little boost from that. For the record, Run Gum tastes pretty gross but I have noticed the caffeine in it helps me on my runs.
At mile 16, I slowly started to drop back from the pace group. I hoped that if I slowed down, my stomach would settle/make more room and I could just catch back up. I told myself that I had just carb loaded too much and that I would burn it off and be fine.
Miles 17-22: 8:32, 8:30, 8:22, 8:37, 8:47, 9:04
I kept the pace group in my line of sight and looked forward to the turnaround which was quickly approaching which meant that I would finally see Ryan! Sadly, I had hoped that when I would see him I would still be with the pace group. Luckily, I was still very close to the group but I gave him a big smile so that he knew I was okay.
At the turnaround, I felt a nice surge of energy and knew all I had to do was run back downtown. Sounded easy enough. I even talked myself into taking my second Gu around mile 20. The second Gu didn’t go so well. I literally opened it, took a tiny bit and threw it on the ground. Instead, I popped my second piece of Run Gum to keep myself distracted from not getting any Gu.
It had been drizzling on and off during the race but by mile 21, it had cleared up and was starting to get warm. I kept running, even though my pace group had slipped out of sight. I figured I might get a burst of energy and catch them on the Shoreway or I could still PR.
As I was running down Lake Ave, I saw a woman with a tray of watermelon that she was holding out for runners. I avoid unofficial water stops most of the time but I couldn’t pass up that watermelon at that time. I grabbed a small piece and slowly took tiny bites out of it and carried it with me for the next mile or so. I wouldn’t find out til after the race that the woman I took watermelon from was my friend Beth from Zumbercani! The must have really been getting to me!
The further down Lake Avenue I got, the closer I got to the Shoreway and I knew the Shoreway was only about 2 miles from the finish. The 3:40 pace group had not passed me yet so I was still on pace for a PR. I was assuming that I was on pace to finish in 3:38.
Miles: 23-26.2: 9:09, 9:11, 10:19, 9:33
I know most people dislike running on the Shoreway but for me, it’s the only chance I ever get to run on the Shoreway. It makes me feel like a rebel getting to run on that wide open road along Lake Erie.
As I was running down the shoreway, I was tired but not anywhere near walking. I could still hold a running pace and I intended to. I caught up to some runners that were in my 3;35 pace group who had also fell away from the group. Then up ahead, I recognized a runner and I pointed at him, caught up to him and decided I would run the rest of the race with him. That runner was fellow Ambassador, Andrew Runs A Lot who was battling some painful blisters from the wet course earlier in the day.
Andrew and I didn’t say much those last few miles. We were hot and we were tired but we had the same goal and it was to get to the finish line and finish the race. I was still battling nausea but was happy I could run with a friend those last few miles to distract me.
As we reached mile 26, Andrew picked up his pace and headed to the finish line. I was right behind him and smiled the whole way to the finish. I wasn’t going to PR at this race and I wasn’t going to BQ but I could honestly say that I had a blast and enjoyed every minute of 14th marathon. As soon as I finished all I wanted to do was run the race all over again.
I ended up 5th in my age group with a time of 3:42:51, my 3rd fastest marathon.I could easily be disappointed in not meeting my goals and following my plan but instead I feel encouraged. I feel like I was close to my goals and I know that the PR and BQ are in my near future.
I think it is pretty obvious that I will be back again next year. I love this race so much! Thank you Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon for yet another great race!
Give It To Me AGAIN!