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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GIVEAWAY: Pier W’s Copper River Salmon Run/Walk 5K

After a good cardio session, I crave some serious protein. Turns out one of Cleveland’s best restaurants has the same craving after running, so they combined their love of seafood and physical activity for everyone’s enjoyment!

copper river salmon run Pier W

Pier W is hosting its Copper River Salmon Run/Walk 5K on Saturday, May 31 in Lakewood. The race – which steps off at 10AM – celebrates Alaska’s Copper River salmon season, and proceeds benefit Cleveland’s Malachi House.

From their website: “Malachi House, created out of a Christian sense of ministry, serves persons who are terminally ill, at no cost or regard to gender, race, religion or national origin. Our Home ministers to individuals who need an available caregiver, who have limited or no financial resources and are in need of special home care in the final stages of life.”

Participants can run or walk the course, all the way to Pier W. For your $30 in advance registration fee ($35 day of), you can get entry to the race plus your choice of a Copper River Salmon burger, a vegan black bean burger, a standard all beef burger or a turkey dog — prepared by Chef Regan Reik. For beverages, there will be water, sports drinks and beer — something for everyone!

Register online today or race day registration begins on race day at 9 a.m. at Lakewood Park’s Outdoor Pavilion (14532 Lake Ave., Lakewood).  By the way, if you’re only interested in lunch, you can buy a “lunch only” option for only $12!

…or you can enter to win a 5K race entry here on the blog this week! Enter via the Rafflecopter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You have until this Friday, May 9th at 12:00AM EST to enter. The winner will be announced later that morning and contacted by email to process your registration. So why not treat yourself after those 3.1 miles? Enter today!

Stay up-to-date with Pier W and Malachi House:

Disclosure: All photos were provided by Pier W. In return for running this giveaway for a 5K race entry for one of my readers, I was offered a race entry for myself. My thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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event (planner’s) recap: 2013 Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis

When things get quiet around here on the blog, it’s usually because a major event is on the horizon. I’ve been run-run-running since the moment December began in prep for the 2nd annual Cleveland Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis at Legacy Village in Lyndhurst.

Arrival at the shopping complex at 5:40AM on a Sunday sounds rough, but it’s actually quiet peaceful.

legacy village at 5 45AM

I always make sure to take a moment to soak in the quiet before an event. Each and every time, I’m enthralled to see our event spaces fill up with fellow Clevelanders within hours of our arrival.  But with volunteers arriving at 6AM and race participants arriving as early as 7:30AM, there was no time to dilly dally.

We had a full morning including a kids fun run and the 5K run/walk itself at 8:30AM. Participants came from all over  Northeast Ohio, many teams with 30 or more people!  It’s always exciting to see the teams come together with their personalized t-shirts and extra costume pieces. Reindeer ears were quite popular this year!

Speaking of costumes, two of my favorites came out to the event decked out to the nines:

winning team costume contest winners

Team Chicken Hickens (AKA Amanda from Clue Into Cleveland and her husband Scott) came dressed as Gonzo and Camilla from the Muppets. As though I couldn’t love these two any more It was also great to see our official bloggers Julie from ROJ Running and Heather from Mile 26 and More on race morning!

It was great to meet Average Joe from Q104 (@average_joedj) – one of our event emcees – who held it down at the day-of race registration and packet pick up area.

with average joe

I have to share that the staff and retailers at Legacy Village have been nothing but uber supportive of our events in this planning process. Especially Bar Louie:  from hosting a kickoff party in October to opening their restaurant at 5:30AM on a Sunday (when their kitchen doesn’t open until 11AM), we couldn’t ask for a better race day host.  The crew running the Legacy Village shopping complex is outright outstanding and professional – we’re lucky to have their support!

Time always flies when I’m running my events, and before I knew it, 8:30AM was upon us.

picture of alicia at start by hans

I will tell you that I’ve had many exhilarating moments as an event planner:  leading Tom Hanks around a ballroom, that 7PM hour of the Cleveland Magazine Silver Spoon Awards Party each and every year, selling Grandmaster Flash CDs while he spins on the House of Blues stage. But being able to start a 5K might just be at the top of that list. Or I just really like using a bullhorn and radio at the same time…  Just like last year, chills overcame my body as I hit the switch on the bullhorn to start that ridiculous siren to get everyone going.

gopher a run start of race small version

You’ll see my brother Drew at the bottom left of the pack in the picture – dressed in black from head to knees. Apparently someone is getting running tights for Christmas. Drew ran the 5K in 20:52.68, coming in fourth in his age group. Nice job, bro!

My two favorite redheads came out for the event as well:

jbr hans and grady

Hans and Grady ran the route just over 29 minutes – a solid showing for Grady’s first 5K!

Since I’m busy running things, I don’t actually get to run the race (although I was dressed like I was ready to!)  Lucky for me, one of the race participants, Rae, shared her GoPro video from Sunday morning:

Note to self: add GoPro to Christmas list. SO COOL.

LONG STORY SHORT: Another successful event is in the books with more than $60,000 raised for the Arthritis Foundation – huzzah!  I learned a lot planning my second 5K. While overall things went pretty well, we’re recognizing our areas on where we can improve and ways we can grow in the future. And each time I end up near a starting line, it makes me want to tie on my running shoes again. Gotta love the thrill and inspiration of a good running event!

Interested in supporting the cause? It’s not too late to donate to this year’s event! Visit the event website today.

Disclosure: I am an employee of the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeastern Ohio. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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