Friday, June 5, 2009

Race Report: Cleveland Half Marathon

Without further ado, here is the "long awaited" race report for the Cleveland Half Marathon that I ran in mid-May. This was a last minute addition to my race calendar. I was planning to visit my family in Ohio so I thought it would be fun to run this while there as I've always wanted to do a big hometown race.


OK, let me just confess upfront: This is NOT how anyone should train for a half marathon. In fact, I use the term "train" very loosely here. After the three consecutive weekends of running and biking events (Mermaid 10K, Big Sur Mud Run, Cinderella Classic), I had about two weeks of doing nothing. I mean, I was doing stuff (traveling home for Easter one weekend, being a bridesmaid in a wedding the following weekend) but any kind of training definitely came to a halt.

Eventually, I had about four weeks to squeeze in some runs. I knew this wasn't enough to really do much but at the same time I wasn't planning to shoot for a PR or anything. I just didn't want to die out there.

So first week of training went well but then I got sick. And then went to Yosemite. And then went to Vegas. Basically, I averaged about 2 runs/week with my longest running being a 10 mile run two weeks before the race that was actually two 5 mile runs with a 3 hour break on my couch in between. (It made sense at the time...)

As a result, I wasn't expecting much come race day (well, other than a new personal worst.)


The nice thing about doing a hometown race is really being able to milk the parental support. The expo was in downtown Cleveland at the Convention Center. I had no problems with going there on my own but for some reason, my mom insisted that she drive me there, drop me off, and wait for me to get my stuff. How nice is that!

The expo was pretty decent sized and some of the race gear was actually pretty cute but I didn't get anything. I did pick up some things that I had forgotten at home (a wristband to wipe the sweat off my face and some sports beans which I didn't end up using). The goody bag had some nice freebies as shown below. (But did we really need a dozen packets of Splenda?)

Race Day

Once again, my parents were awesome support on race day and dropped me off at the race start. I thought they would go home and come back for the finish but they ended up staying for the whole entire morning. Luckily they dressed warm as it was pretty chilly that morning - but perfect weather for running!

The race was actually pretty small even with both the full and half marathoners starting together (there was also a 10K that started a bit later). It only took me about 4 minutes to cross the start line. We set off toward the water listening to the city's anthem "Cleveland Rocks". The weather was awesome and even though I wasn't ready for this race, I knew it would at least be fun.

I tried to stay with the 4:30 marathon group for a 2:15 finish but as usual, I couldn't keep up with them. So far, I've yet to keep up with a pace group - haha.

The course took us west closer to my hometown and then looped back to the start. The nice thing was that my parents saw me off and then my sister and her 2 year old son were waiting to cheer me on around the halfway point at a park. Luckily she found me otherwise I would have definitely passed by them. I loved seeing them out there as it really kept me going for the first part of the race. The funny thing is that my adorable nephew was totally unaware that there was a race going on. I think in his mind, he just thought he was having a nice day in the park with his mommy and that his auntie just suddenly appeared.

Anyway, the race so far had been going well. I wasn't trying to push it but felt comfortable with maintaining around a 10:00 min/mi pace for the first half of the race. And for me, that's pretty good. But then around mile 8, it all started to change. My body was finally starting to realize, hey, we're not used to doing this! And soon each step became more and more difficult. By mile 11, I literally felt like I had two dead weights hanging off my legs. This coincided with the part of the course that had a slight but long incline. Greeaaaaattttttt. I took a few more stops, walked a little bit, and then finally just told myself to get my butt in gear and get to that finish line.

It helped me once we got to the mile 12 marker as we were seeing more spectators and you could feel the energy of getting closer and closer to the finish.

I liked that when I turned the last corner, the finish line was pretty much right there and I sprinted as fast as I could. I managed to hear my dad cheer for me so I waved to him. A little bit later, I heard my mom and waved to her. My mom was actually able to take these two pics as well:

I'm so glad she did because believe it or not, this just might be my first race where I had no official race pics taken! Granted, I don't even remember seeing any photographers on the course but at the same time I wasn't looking for them. Mostly because I was primarily focused on staying in the game and getting my dead legs across that finish line.

And amazingly, I did OK! Official time: 2:16:59. Totally due to the cool running weather and relatively flat course.

Here's what Garmin spit out... my early splits were actually better than I thought:

1: 10:02
2: 9:50
3: 9:55
4: 9:59
5: 9:56
6: 9:47
7: 10:24
8: 10:12
9: 10:39
10: 10:26
11: 11:57
12: 11:35
13: 10:19
0.23: 9:05 pace

13.23 mi
Avg pace: 10:22 min/mi
Avg hr: 173bpm

Official Results

Chip Time: 2:16:59
Pace: 10:27 min/mi
Overall Place: 2924 / 3900
Gender Place: 1440 / 2394
Division Place: 262 / 367

It seems like 2:17 is the magic number for me these days when it comes to half marathons. How freakish is this?
  • 2:17:20 - 8/31/08 Disneyland Half Marathon
  • 2:17:08 - 10/5/08 San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon
  • 2:17:03 - 10/19/08 Nike Women's Half Marathon
  • 2:16:59 - 5/17/09 Cleveland Half Marathon
All with varying course elevations and weather. Weird. Too bad 2:17 is practically 10 minutes slower than my current PR. I'll get there... someday!

Me after the race:

I was so excited to see this offered in the finish chute:

My bling and race shirt, which I like alot. It's an ASICS technical shirt and we all got different colors. Men got maroon for the full and white for the half. Women got lime green for the full and light blue for the half. A lot of people wore them on race day so it was fun for me to know which events people in front of me were doing.

Back of the shirt (very groovy!):

Close up of the medal with the spinning guitar:

Final thoughts on the race

It was definitely nice to do a race so close to home but overall, I don't know if I would recommend it to non-local runners. There really wasn't that much for on-course entertainment especially since they make such a big deal with the whole Rock n Roll Hall of Fame association. I think there were just a handful of music stops. There was some live music as well but not much. (Although I was amused to see the marching band of my brother's old high school.) The course had a nice start with seeing the Cleveland Browns stadium, the Science Center, and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame but otherwise the half goes through a lot of residential areas and a good portion was on a highway. They did seem to have a nice post-race party setup (beer!) but unfortunately I didn't get a chance to check it out as my poor parents were tired and cold from waiting for me that whole time. (They did get to spend some time hanging out a local shopping mall while I was running, so they didn't have to stand around the whole time.)

Anyway, half marathon #9 is in the books. HM #10 will be in wine country next month.

And on a separate side note, I was once again rejected in the NYC marathon lottery this year. Still on track for 2011 :)


aron said...

YAY congrats on HM #9!!! great report as usual :) love the shirt and medal!

that is pretty crazy about the times... at least you consistent right!

YAY for napa HM next month!

Mica said...

Congrats on the race! I can't believe they gave out chocolate milk at the end! (That's what was in that bottle, yes?)

I was actually thinking about doing Cleveland this year, but it was just a week after the Half I ran here. Maybe next year! We can meet up!

maria k said...

great report....i really enjoyed running cleveland. but chocolate milk at the end? no thanks. i was loving the cheese popcorn and popicles personally

chris mcpeake said...

Chocolate milk at the end of a long run rules. Congrats on your HM finish.

Anonymous said...

Great report! I enjoyed the race, except for the darn highway! I loved getting the milk at the finish!

Jamie said...

Congrats on HM #9! Great report miss consistent :) I asked the same question about 12 splendas and they were slightly old... nice. I agree that is was fun having the family support but not a great race for non-locals. Definitely needed more music! And I loved the popsicle at the end :)

Anonymous said...

Nice job. You are really consistent with your half marathon times!

I really like the shirt too.

The Laminator said...

Nice report on HM #9. Those are pretty consistent times!

Your race gear looks pretty neat! I'm surprised there was no Cavaliers related race swag. That was during the height of their playoff swing wasn't it?

Anyway, great job with the run! Your parents must have been very proud to be traveling around with you like that! That's pretty neat!

Onto #10. Let's hope the great weather continues! At least you can look forward to the post-race beverage! Haha! Best of luck!

Cindy said...

great job! chocolate milk is the perfect post run drink. i love it! and i also love your running top.

Sarah said...

That is crazy about the times!! You're staying very consistent - even with the sketchy training :) Good job!!

Alisa said...

Fun race report! It's crazy that I've done the same amount of full marathons as I have halfs! That is going to change in SF.

Also in SF we'll have a pacer that won't go out wayyyy'll be Julianne! See you have to do the 1/2.

I'd love a 2:17, that'd be a PR for me. Someday I'd like to get closer to 2 hours. Someday!

Cute shirt!

I too, don't understand the packets of splenda. I like splenda, but in a race packet? hmmmmm...

Runner Leana said...

Congratulatons on your race! The shirt and the medal are really nice. Yeah, the packets of Splenda is a weird addition to a race packet. Hmm. Anyhow, well done Audrey!

Sorry to hear you didn't get into NYC! :(

Anonymous said...

Hey guess what? I gave you a blog award today! You can check it out here!

Run For Life said...

Nice! I think you did great and that is a nice race shirt. :)

RoadBunner said...

How have I not commented on this already?! Congrats!! Great job for your limited training. Did you ever try that Bullfrog sunscreen?! I read good things about it but don't want to get stuck with a huge bottle if I hate the smell or something.

At Big Sur all the different events had different color shirts, too. A rather large amount of people wore the shirts during the race there, too, so it was neat to know what event people were doing.

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