when my brother ran the 2015 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon

Maybe it’s the energy of 20,000 plus people. Maybe it’s the memory of participating in the past. Maybe it’s the rush of knowing someone is accomplishing something epic. Whatever it is, I know one thing — you can’t beat race morning. That fact remained true this past Sunday at the 2015 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. My brother signed up to run the full marathon again this year and I enthusiastically agreed to follow him along Cleveland’s West side.

Two years ago, Drew ran his first half marathon in 1:46:36. Last year, he ran his first full marathon, finishing in 3:51:29 — truly an  amazing time for his first 26.2-er. Going in to this year’s race, knowing the weather situation and how the last few weeks of his training went, Drew was hoping to match his time from last year — even though his original stretch goal was something closer to that 3:30-3:45 range. But with high humidity and warm temperatures, Drew knew he had to be smart and pace himself. And knowing the history of wonky knees in our family, I agreed with his plan.

My race crewing plan for 2015 remained the same from 2014: meet up with Drew every seven miles with Powerade and extra energy chews. Since the race course changed slightly, I hunkered down at Mile 7 near the corner of W. 58th and Lorain.

I have to admit — my interest in race crewing is for many (selfish even!) reasons, those being the many people I have the honor of cheering on along the course including @WestParkRunner who was pacing the 3:25 marathon group…


Ryan in the middle wearing the blue tank and holding the pacing sign.

…Drew’s friend (and weight loss success story!) Ian (@andersiw on IG)…


…and fellow Cleveland bloggers Jessica and Pam at mile 14, at the corner of Lake and Nicholson (near West 117th-ish).


As for Drew, this is pretty much how he looked at each of those mile markers I met him at that morning:


Looking strong, smile on his face — and ready for some Powerade. The entire race, Drew was pacing way faster than planned. Once I saw him at mile seven, I knew he was going to blow his previous personal best out of the water — so we had to stay on the move at a quick pace ourselves! After seeing Drew at mile 21 (here in this picture), Hans, my mom and I buzzed along East on I-90, overshooting downtown by getting off at Superior, then cutting back through Public Square to get to our tip top secret parking spots. (Sorry, not sharing — gotta protect my spot for 2016!)

We got downtown with just enough time to see Drew run down and to the finish line, finishing the race in 3:36:56 — a 14 and a half minute PR from last year’s Cleveland Marathon. Nice work, bro! Sweaty and tremendously tired, he even obliged me for a few family pics to commemorate the morning.
cle marathon 2015 collage

LONG STORY SHORT: He may be younger, but I find myself always looking up to my little brother – figuratively & literally.


Drew sets realistic goals, and then chases the heck out of them until he can say he’s accomplished them. He recognizes when things aren’t going as planned, and then adjusts as needed. But most importantly, he knows to not take life too seriously and to enjoy the ride. Bro, I love ya and I’m proud to be your big sister — marathon medal or not.

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when my brother ran the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon

I will never run a marathon. It’s not that I couldn’t — I’m just making the active choice not too. My run/walk tendencies plus having heavier bones just doesn’t lend well to uber long distances.  Plus, I’m much better suited at being on a yoga mat for 6 hours than pounding the pavement.

My brother, on the other hand, got the genes that made him tall, lean and fast. Drew’s always run to stay in shape, but only started dabbling in races in the past few years. You may remember he ran his first half marathon last year at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, pushing himself to a 1:45 finish with not a whole lot of training.  So when he said he was signing up for the full 26.2 miles this year, I cleared all plans for the morning of May 18, 2014 in plans to be there for nearly every step.

Agreeing to be his race fuel crew, he dropped off his Powerade the night before and we made our plan where I would first meet Drew at mile 7 on his epic trek around the West side of Greater Cleveland. I arrived at West 65th and Franklin just in time to watch the lead runners blow by, then saw Ryan (@CLECraftBeerRun) ran by pacing the 3:25 runners. As Drew was shooting to run his first marathon under four hours, I waited patiently as the crowd thickened. It was exciting to see so many speedy Northeastern Ohioans breeze by!

Cleveland Marathon Mile 7

My brother coming and going at mile 7.

I’ve come to recognize my brother’s gait from a distance so could easily spot him as he approached. He stopped only to take off his blue hoodie, recognize he had pinned his bib to his long sleeve tshirt (and not the short sleeve he had under it), take a few slips of his Powerade before he was off and running. Then then, so was I — to Rocky River I went!

cleveland marathon fuel

With a quick pit stop at Starbucks (I have my fuel as he has his), I made it to the water stop just past mile 14 with plenty of time to spare. I missed the lead runners, but again got to see Ryan (looking strong) and another social media friend, Pam (@pam_mcgowan - who was looking FIERCE) before Drew ran up again. He slowed down to a trot so I could jog along side him as he again took some Powerade. He said he was still feeling good and that his knee wasn’t bothering him too badly. (He had dislocated it a few years back playing rec basketball and that was my biggest concern for him that morning.)  He took one last quick swig, handed me the bottle and was again on his way. I yelled “see you in another seven – you’ve got this!”  Back to me, he fist pumped the air and was on his merry way.

For mile 21, Hans, my mom, her boyfriend and his kids all joined me in time to meet up with Drew before the final stretch. At the intersection at Lake and Nicholson, I realized I was a bit ahead of our game plan, but it turns out it worked out for the best as Drew really appreciated seeing all of us before the mile marker.  My mom had a made a sign that said “RUN DREW” and they all cheered, which put a HUGE smile on my brother’s face. He slowed to a quick walk, and Hans and I joined him as he again took a bit more Powerade. He wasn’t drinking much of what I brought, but he assured me he was taking water at each water stop.  He gave me back the bottle and I said, “I’ll see you at the finish line” and he was off again.

We hightailed it downtown as fast as we could from there. Getting caught in traffic at Detroit and West 65th, I questioned my decision making skills, but by the grace of the Cleveland parking gods, Hans and I found an empty spot on the West 9th.  We found ourselves on Lakeside, also finding the last leg of the race course. We waited it out and caught my brother one last time before he got to the finish.

cleveland marathon mile 26

Drew was in the zone when we saw him, but eventually all our yelling and screaming caught his attention. He gave us the “here’s lookin’ at you” finger-point and somehow picked it up again. As he sped off, I started yelling “THAT’S MY BROTHER! HE’S A MARATHONER” and the crowd around us cheered. I suddenly became overwhelmed in that feeling I had when I had finished my first half marathon — I was just so damn proud of him.

I would eventually track down my brother, who had found my dad and his girlfriend, on Lakeside, medal around his neck and blanket around his body.

cleveland marathon love

He said he thought he came in around 3:50. I looked it up later to find his official clock time was 3:51:29 — absolutely amazing for his very first full marathon.  Not only did he reach his goal, he blew it out of the water!

cleveland marathon medal

Even though after the half last year he was vowing to never to do this again, I can’t say I’m too shocked by any of this. My brother is determined, a hard worker, and mentally and physically strong. When he sets a goal for himself, he reaches it every time. Talk about commitment – his picture is in the dictionary next to the definition of the word.

Later Sunday night, he texted me to thank me — but in the grand scheme of things, I wanted to thank him for again showing me that anything is possible when you put your mind to it and simply #dothework.  He’s one of my biggest motivators and is a constant source of inspiration. Here’s to you, Drew!  Now, let’s see how long until we see you BQ…

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the tale of three different Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon runners

On Sunday, three different runners ran three different races – all apart of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Sunday morning festivities.

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I knew it would be a good morning when I spotting Charles Ramsey on my way to the start line.

There was one common thread between the three of us: lack of consistent training. My crazy work schedule, my brother battling off the long lasting cold of 2013, and Hans’ absolutely hatred of running made for an array of lackluster prep, including random maintenance runs and much fewer long runs that normally advised. Even so, I had a plan for all of us for race morning.

I drove down with Hans, fellow yoga teacher Kevin and his friend Kristen, dropping off those three half marathoners at East 9th and Lakeside at 6:30AM. (Drew drove himself down.) Finding an open parking lot was a breeze, so I was down at FirstEnergy Stadium by 6:45 to see the start of the full and half marathons.

Within moments, the 10K runners were lined up and I started reviewing my plan:

  • Don’t line up too far forward in the line of runners at the start (AKA look for the folks with the 10K Walker bibs and place yourself a bit before them)
  • Don’t get crazy in trying to get up that hill of West 3rd right at the start
  • Power walk up any major incline
  • Run down any major incline
  • Otherwise, stick to running for a minute, walk for two… but listen to your body.

Mile 1 went by quickly – it was easy to be distracted by the downtown sights and the “oooh I’m running in a race!” excitement.

Mile 2 was an array of distractions: There’s No Place Like OM yoga studio, Indian Delight, the thoughts of that Silver Spoon tequila cocktail from Spice Kitchen + Bar, ice cream from Sweet Moses – apparently my pre-race breakfast hadn’t cut it

Mile 3 included a glorious downhill run along West 67 where I rocked the empty sidewalk to gain some distance in a short time.

Mile 4 was unmemorable – except for when a kind Detroit Shoreway resident offered me some of his mimosa.

Mile 5 felt like the longest mile I had ever walked. Yes, I walked the Shoreway. I think I was caught up in the views of downtown – and the fact I had a side stitch brewing. I wanted to finish strong, so I committed to power walking like hell until I got to the mile marker.

Mile 6 started with a glorious downhill patch into the Warehouse District, then flattened out in front of the Med Mart – which is looking spectacular BTW.  The 10Kers merged with the half marathoners on East 9th to run down towards the Rock Hall and then to the finish.

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My actual chip time was 1:14:50 – I was extremely happy when I finished, and was pulled aside by a kind woman with a video camera who wanted to interview me for being “the happiest runner” at the finish line that morning. I didn’t hit the stop button on my Garmin until after the interview, which is supposed to be on the marathon’s YouTube channel. Note to self: no more post-race interviews – you’re way too hyped up and say way too many goofy statements!

As pleased as I was, Sunday wasn’t about me. It was about the half marathoners in our crew.

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Speedy McSpeederson in the middle – my brother Drew – clocked at 1:46:36 in his first ever long distance race. He did run one 14 miler before the race and was anticipating a 1:45-ish finish. I think he was pretty pleased – but vowed to never run it again when the post-race soreness set in. We’ll see about that…

Kristen and Kevin (on the left) – even though having run many halfs and fulls themselves – opted to stick with Hans for the 13.1 miles and collectively came in at 2:20. That’s right: my weight lifter husband who sporadically ran since January sucked it up to bring home quite the respectable half marathon time.  I did get to watch them cross the finish line – I don’t think Hans could have been happier to be done, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.  Another huge thank you goes out to Kristen and Kevin for sticking by him to make it happen because accordingly to Hans, if they weren’t there, he probably wouldn’t have made it.  That said, we all knew he had it in him!

LONG STORY SHORT: Three very different runners, three very different races, but one common ending: crossing the finish line with big smiles. Now we had another half marathon medal added to our refrigerator collection of race bling… which has me jonesing to add another soon…

Disclosure: While I served as a guest blogger for the 2013 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, this post or my race participation are not a part of my duties towards that role. I was provided with two VIP brunch passes for race morning that I gave away to two ladies at the start line.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.

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