Last weekend it was off to Cleveland, Ohio for the 40th Anniversary of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and I am proud to report that I am now a Cleveland Marathon finisher! That’s right, another marathon is in the books and another medal can be added to the collection!
The Rock and Roll City did an a great job hosting this marathon and if you are looking for a nice marathon to add to the running bucket list be sure to give this one some serious consideration. From the race expo to the finish line the organization around the Cleveland Marathon was absolutely excellent and runners traveling to the city were welcomed the entire weekend.
I headed over to the race expo both on Friday and Saturday and hit up the various sponsor tables, vendors and other booths. The expo had plenty of space to move around and registration and number pickup had plenty of volunteers available to help the avoid any length delays.
The Cleveland Marathon features a variety of different races so Saturday I made my way to watch the 5k race which had all the trimmings of a larger race complete with an announcer at the finish line greeting runners into the chute. The finish line for the races was conveniently located outside of my hotel which made for a truly perfect location to stay while in Cleveland.
On race morning, I made my way over to the starting area which was just about a quarter mile from my hotel and directly in front of the Quicken Loans Arena where the Cleveland Cavaliers play and Progressive Field where the Cleveland Indians play. The corrals were very well managed and the race went off without a hitch immediately at the 7AM start time.
Runners made their way out of the downtown area and down toward the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where an exceptional band blasted some rock music and really got the runners amped up for the miles ahead. After running past the stadium where the Cleveland Browns play, it was then up a short , steep incline and down toward The Flats section of Cleveland. A remarkable hill was mixed into the course pretty early and signs placed by the marathon organizers alongside the road helped motivate runners up the hill step by step.
For about the first half of the race I felt pretty good. I knew it wasn’t going to be my best marathon given the perfect storm of some humid conditions coupled with some gall bladder and pancreatic issues I have been dealing with but I was determined to put one foot in front of the other each step of the way and get to the finish line. Even when the rain entered into the mix at the midway point, I kept myself mentally in the race and kept on trucking.
The Lake Ave section of the race in the second half of the marathon was quite flat and well supported with people cheering runners along the way. One of the constants of this marathon was how remarkably well supported the run was the entire way with both official and non-official water stops, energy drinks, gels and more along the entire race course. If you really wanted to, a bacon and beer stop was even available for those with an iron stomach! An area called Edgewater Drive took runners past some beautiful homes and this stretch was a pretty quiet but enjoyable part of the course.
Heading back onto Detroit Avenue I saw a large bridge I knew led to the finish line having walked over it the day before while checking out the Ohio City section of the city. I knew I was close and felt the legs get a little stronger with each step over the bridge.
I made my way into the finish line with a time of 5:08:06, or 11:46/miles. My pace continued to fall off throughout the course but I made it. It would be easy to be disappointed with my time but I couldn’t be more happy with the fact that I finished another marathon. Marathons and marathon training certainly can take its toll, but I did it! And now, I am a Cleveland Marathon finisher!