Was it really only just a few days ago that I was running through the streets of Cleveland with thousands of others, in my first in-person Cleveland half marathon since 2019?
Okay, okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. But yes, just a few day ago, I completed the Cleveland 5k/half marathon challenge series, running a 5k on Saturday and half marathon on Sunday. As a race ambassador, I was able to take advantage of some amazing perks. Even nearly a week later, I’m still feeling proud and grateful for the whole experience — so here it is.
Friday: Race Expo and VIP Dinner
The best way to kick off race weekend is through the race expo. I love seeing all the newest gear and gadgets and really, all the people. This weekend I was able to volunteer at the packet pickup booth with a fellow ambassador, Matt, before heading to the VIP dinner with B.
The VIP dinner is for friends of the race and race organizers, and it’s always a great time. It was so great to meet and catch up with fellow ambassadors while we were there!
Saturday morning I was running the first part of the Challenge Series. I started the morning with a starting line photo with several of my ambassador friends.
Then, I met up with my sister-in-law, Mary, who was running the 10K and got a pre-race photo, and we were off!
The course was a pretty good one and new. It had a few hills, but showed off some of the downtown, including the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and Browns Stadium.
I was pleasantly surprised with the crowd running the 5k/10k and the finish line. It felt bigger and better than in years’ past and more organized. There were plenty of volunteers handing out water and Nun along the course, and then with food, water and chocolate milk after the race.
It was HOT (for me) – but there was a nice breeze to help with the temps. Even the headwind felt good for the most part! I was glad I was just running a 5K that day and not a half marathon.
I didn’t get to check out the finish line party unfortunately – I had to run home after the 5k to head to FW’s final track meet/championships. #momlife
Sunday: Half Marathon
Sunday was the race I had been waiting for – half marathon day!
Unfortunately, I knew it wasn’t going to be my fastest or best race. I had a few things not go my way. First, my health. I started feeling sick right around race day. Just a cold, but still, nothing like not being able to completely breathe through your nose, and have to blow it, during a race! Also, I had been having some tendonitis issues. I had kept off my feet most of the week earlier, but after the 5k, I was feeling it! And of course – just the stage of my life right now. Between the new job, new baby, nursing, and kindergartener, I’ve been TIRED and did most of my long runs at 4 a.m. I didn’t get in all my speed training runs. But I was ready!
So I still went in with a plan/goal – to do under 10:30 min/miles and to HAVE FUN. What a difference from just a few years ago when I was under 2 hours and trying to set PRs, right?
Overall, race morning went well. I was woken up by B’s alarm, and then got ready quickly while all the kids slept. Since GM was still sleeping when we left the house, I had to pump before the race – I ended up pumping a little at home and then in the car on the way downtown. We first picked up one of Mary’s friends, who was in town and last minute decided to run the half and “pace” me – or keep me company throughout the race. We were able to find relatively cheap parking in a garage and then we walked over to the race start together.
The race went well. I started off with Mary’s friend, B, B’s brother and his friend. B had told us to run without him, so Mary’s friend, B’s brother and his friend and I ran about the first 6-8 miles or so together on and off, and then I lost B’s brother and his friend at a water stop. But I wasn’t alone – I had Mary’s friend. It was SO great to have her run with me and keep me on my feet. It definitely helped the mental aspect of the race, so I only had to work on my breathing and legs! Around 8 miles was when I started to feel my legs drag and my body was HOT. We had done a few hills that were killer (for me), and I commented more than once that I wished I had a tank top on. The race started at about 66 degrees but it was HUMID and I wasn’t used to it being that warm for runs yet! I was ready to take a break. But, I didn’t. Luckily, we got some gels around then, and I was able to start feeling like myself again for a few miles. Before I knew it, we were at 10-11 miles, and the weather cooled down significantly. I was no longer hot, and instead, I was just focused on finishing. By mile 13, I used my last burst of energy and sprinted through the finish line. Then, after the race – I was freezing! Temps dropped significantly during the race.
It wasn’t my fastest race. But despite my cold, tendonitis, and oh yeah, being less than year postpartum, I finished my half marathon and met my initial goal of under 10:30 min/miles. Garmin had me going almost 13.5 – but either way, below 10:30 min/miles!
Overall, I’m really happy with how the race went. I had SO MUCH fun running an in-person half marathon! Will there be one in my future soon? Maybe .. though I’m looking forward to NOT waking up at 3-4 a.m. for the next few weeks!
THANK YOU Cleveland Marathon for a great weekend. For letting me be an ambassador AGAIN. For letting me run around my city once again. I’m so grateful that races are back!