You might say I’m a bit of a Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon groupie. In 2011, I volunteered by handing out medals at the finish line — best volunteer job EVER, by the way. In 2012, we ran the 5K finishing on the Cleveland Browns Stadium field. In 2013, it was a family effort as I ran the 10K and the rest of our crew ran the half marathon. Our energy went behind my brother Drew the past two years as he ran the 2014 and 2015 full marathons. This year, that energy was channeled to everyone’s favorite redhead — my husband Hans.
Hans and I have been… let’s say debating… over his training plan since he registered for the race in January. He ran his first half (Cleveland) in 2013 with a very respectable time of 2:20:13, but had the idea of running sub 10 minute miles in his head since the start of this year. With my previous experience in researching far too many training plans for when I ran my two half marathons in 2011, I gave him several suggestions to consider. But Hans decided to tackle his training with his own plan: long runs on Sundays, and see how the rest of the week shook out between weight lifting sessions and dog walks. What ended up going down was 13 (mostly long) runs from the end of July through the end of April, ranging from a quick two miler while he was in Boston to a couple 13+ milers on our home treadmill. For most, that wouldn’t be enough prep, but for my husband, known for jumping into 5Ks last minute, it was plenty.
Race morning about 6:30am, I dropped him off at the corner of East 9th and Carnegie to 1) give him a warm up distance to run/walk distance and 2) to make sure I could easily get out of downtown. After stalking the weather report all weekend long and a quick trip to Kohl’s to spend his Kohl’s cash on some new winter weather running gear, his Saturday weather related anxiety turned into Sunday morning confidence. He was ready to tackle that run.
I, on the other hand, wasn’t ready to tackle the barrage of traffic barriers that I would come across. I changed my plans to first meet him at mile marker 2 on East 30th, and instead headed straight to Tremont at the corner of Starkweather and West 14th where I found the mile 6 mile marker. My brother Drew met me there and waited until this guy appeared.
Drew had offered to jump in and run with Hans at that moment, but he said he was doing good. And based on the smile on his face, we believed him. (Notice the thumbs up in the photo!)
With Hans on the move, Drew and I jumped in my car to head off to Ohio City to track down mile marker 10 near the split for the half and full race courses. It had already been raining off and on, but the precipitation became constant and heavy as the morning progressed. And by the time we found ourselves standing on the side of the road on Franklin Boulevard, it was an awkward combination of heavy rain, sleet and hail. Drew thanked the running gods several times that morning for deciding to take this year off from running the full. I, in return, said how I would have never started this morning. But that’s not Hans’ style, and so when he came up at mile 10, we were mildly shocked that he still looked as good as he did at mile 6 — fist pumps and all!
Trying not to break his momentum, we offered him a pair of gloves, a hat and a change of jacket — all which he declined — before we sent him on his merry way. I’m sure I shouted something about “you only have a 5K left!”, a phrase which got me through those last three miles of both of my halfs. But knowing he was still around that 10+ minute a mile pace, Drew and I knew we didn’t have much more than 30 minutes to get back downtown, parked and to the race course before Hans finished. I’ve done it before with no issues in that time frame when race crewing for Drew in the past — but I forgot one small fact: I wasn’t 16 weeks pregnant then. Boy, speed walking is so much harder for me these days!
I drove back downtown before Drew took one for the team, kicking me out of the car so he could go park it, while I hurried down to as close to the finish line I could get before hitting the blockades. I got in my spot at the corner of Ontario and Lakeside with just a moment to spare before I saw this very content face:
Hans crossed the finish line at 2:12:12, making for an eight minute PR since his first half three years ago. That averages out to a 10:05 per mile pace — thisclose to his 10 minute per mile goal. Considering the conditions that morning, I’m calling the effort a huge success!
The second I had the chance to catch up with Hans after the finish line, it started thunder snowing. Yes, we had officially seen and experienced it all that morning! We hightailed it over to the Global Center for Health Innovation to escape the crowns and the weather. I know I felt miserable from standing in that weather all morning — I couldn’t imagine how Hans felt, although he still had enough energy for a few post race photos. Even drenched head to toe after 13.1 miles, he was still smiling.
LONG STORY SHORT: While I don’t consider myself a runner anymore, I couldn’t imagine my mid-May without the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon festivities in our lives. Between participating in the races myself, cheering on family, friends and strangers involved, or volunteering, waking up incredibly early that weekend is always worth the time and effort. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s nothing quite like a race day morning. And this one was one no one will ever forget!
Looking for other runners’ Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon experiences? Click on over to Melissa‘s, David‘s, Jess‘ and Jill‘s blogs for their recaps from this weekend.
Want to run the races yourself? Early bird registration for the 2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon events opens tomorrow, May 20th. More info to come at clevelandmarathon.com.
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