Monday, May 16, 2011

Cleveland Marathon 2011 race report


I ran the Cleveland Marathon today in 4:32:50. I was 1,790th of 3,160 full participants, 554th among women and 116th in my division.

My splits were: 10:20, 10:21, 10:19, 10:24, 10:09, 11:31, 10:36, 10:27, 10:53, 10:31, 10:41, 11:26, 10:27, 11:07, 10:49, 10:32, 10:43, 10:47, 10:27, 10:37, 9:31, 9:48, 9:12, 9:10, 9:07, 9:00, 3:46 (.49 per Garmin).

Full Daily Mile data here. 

So I'll just start at the beginning of one crazy day! I'm still reeling, so some edits will likely be necessary tomorrow.

I was up at 5 and downtown by 5:45. The exits were already blocked off so my mom managed to drop me off a few blocks away. The Plain Dealer reported that there were almost 20,000 runners in the various events, it was a madhouse! Check out the photo on the link that has everyone running down the shoreway.

We were in Browns' stadium so I was happy for lots of bathrooms and places to spread out. I warmed up just enough to get the heart rate up, then stretched for a long time. The starting corral was really chaotic and disorganized, I ended up having to walk across the mud to get in the very vicinity of where I needed to be. They got us worked up with "Cleveland Rocks"

Once it starts it takes me 7 minutes to reach the start, so the clocks on the course were worthless, but I had my Garmin. I try my best to stick with the 4:45 pace group but it was difficult. I ended up back with the 5 hour group at the beginning and did some zigzagging to catch up (probably why my Garmin said 26.49 at the end)

I caught up to the 4:45s but lost them quickly. They stopped at every water station (every two miles) so it often took some time to get in step with them after. I only really stopped at 6, 12, 18 and 22. 

Still, the first two miles along the shoreway were a lot of fun, the energy was unreal, I liked being by the lake, and passing Edgewater Park where my high school cross country team used to train. Some complained about the hill as we ran up the on-ramp. I've done much, much worse.  

The first 10K was a breeze. It was really hard restraining myself, I wanted to speed up. 

The second 6 and change took us through Tremont and Carnegie Ave. which was a really phenomenal part of the course. The crowd support was unreal. I ran a lot of this without my iPod because there were bands and people playing music everywhere! 

Just before the halfs turned off, I hit a marathoner's jackpot -- a port-a-john with no line. (The port-a-john lines were another chief complaint I've heard of the event). With the Indians' stadium in sight there were lots of cheers as we bid farewell to the half marathoners. 

Then things started to get real. 

I was back with the pace group at this point, and as we headed down Euclid Ave. toward the east side I was really glad for it. As we got through the CSU campus and left downtown things got really quiet. I started to get tired. The pace group started to get chatty. That helped. 

Miles 13-19 were definitely the hardest. At one point I got ahead of the group and ended up stopping to stretch my knees and ankles while they caught up. I see my mom around Mile 15, which gave me a boost. Miles 16-19 I went for all the peppy, make me smile songs on my iPod. Usually these make me speed up, but in between my exhaustion and the pace team I stuck to 10-11 min miles. 

I think the double caffeine Gu kicked in at Mile 19 because at this point I found some new energy. Around 19.5 I realized the pace group was behind me. I told myself I'd stick with them for the first 20 -- close enough. I kick it up to 9-9:30. I turned off the fast pace alert set to 10:00. My iPod, set to shuffle on the 12-hour playlist was all about the classic rock, which was perfect. 

At this point every single muscle was screaming. My legs feel so numb. I'm soaking wet and hardly notice. But I'm passing people. This part of the course was really pretty. We turned onto a bike path as we went through several parks and along Lake Erie. I watched waves of the lovely brown waters splash against the breakers. I watched a bird eat a dead fish. I saw these people, I think they're from DetermiNation (photo from the Cap City race... the CLE signs were similar). Any distraction was a welcome distraction. I'm keeping a sub 10 pace. 

Every mile marker gave me new energy. I was going for it and was going to finish. I didn't care what my watch said. I ran the way my legs wanted to carry me. Kali, who ran the half and blogs about her running ventures, was there around Mile 24. Another boost. I passed Mile 25. I'm exhausted, dying, but I'm going to make it. 

I can't touch my iPod at this point -- the battery is dying, and my hands were so slimy, so I just took what the shuffle function gave me. First I hear Fleetwood Mac's Don't Stop. Then, the Beatles' The Long and Winding Road. Then I see Mile 26 and hear cheering and music. I tuck my headphones in my FuelBelt and start sprinting. 

I cross and the first person I see is my good friend Theresa Edwards, who was volunteering and handed me my medal. I'm exhausted. Once I stop running I can barely walk but I stumble through the chute, catch up with an MIT friend. 

I remember high-fiving the guy at Mile 8 with a sign that said "18 miles til beer". I had a free drink ticket and beer was the last thing I wanted. I'm delirious. I am soaking wet. My mom brought me dry clothes. Changing was painful. 

So, after you run 26.2 miles, you eat what you please. I had yet to try Five Guys before, delicious! Then for dinner we went out for Mexican. 

At that point, I was happy for this:

And, of course, this:

I'm all signed up for the next session of MIT. I'm going to train for the Columbus full!

I know I haven't held a lot of affection for my hometown (and I know this is in my last post too), but it is only fitting that I end this post on this note:


  1. amazing how you kicked it up at the end. Great run! Very inspiring.

  2. Very cool! Congrats!
    -- Jessie

  3. WTG Jessica!!! Sounds like you had an amazing first marathon (despite the horrible weather). I am looking forward to seeing you again on Saturday mornings with MIT!


  4. Congrats again marathoner! You looked great when I saw you and thanks for the mention! Enjoy Columbus, it is a great race!

  5. Hi, congrats! I'm from Columbus too and I did Cleveland yesterday :) I found your blog when I was looking to see what others thought of the race. I feel like I might've seen you along the course... were you the friendly soul hanging near the 445 group who offered me a gel when I was having an (embarrassingly pathetic) meltdown, somewhere around mile 18-19? I'm not sure from your report where you were relative to the 445s by that point in the race, so maybe it wasn't you. In any case, hi from a fellow Columbus marathoner and great job yesterday! :o)

  6. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G my friend! That medal is AWESOME! I love it!!!!!!!!! I love your recap - I felt like I was right there with you even though we were in different cities. Your report kept me going - awesome stuff!

    I might run this one - it sounds fun and maybe more flat than Pitt! ;)

    I am so happy you will be at MIT (even though I may never run with you due to your extreme speediness, which I truly admire!)

    WAY TO GO, FRIEND! See you soon!!! :)

  7. Congrats!!! That is a great time, and it sounds like you really pushed!

  8. Great recap Jess!

    You are a svelte, running machine. Just a year ago this would have seemed impossible, but look at you today; amazing. I agree that the weather was crummy for all of our major events on Sunday, but at least we all suffered 'together.'

    I can't join MIT for the summer due to Pelotonia training, but I plan to get my running done on Sunday mornings.


  9. Ok, so I didnt even start reading and I got chills when you said "I am a marathoner" We interviewed a guy ion Boston that said something similar.
    Anyways.. Super Duper congrats.. Way to set a goal and complete it. I can't wait to hear about Columbus. :)
    Gotta Run,