Sunday, May 15, 2016

2016 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon

That was utterly ridiculous. Ridiculous, and in its way entirely awesome.

Official Time: 1:41:21
Avg. Pace: 7:43

Place Men 45-49: 14

Previous Best: 01:43:35 (Cleveland 2010)

The morning was ominous. The forecast was perfect in its awfulness -- upper thirties and rain. Rain, everything will get wet, especially the feet. Upper thirties is exactly the temperature where I could wear long pants or shorts. Rain and wind means my legs will freeze, long pants just suck.

I decided to go with the shorts, long-sleeve shirt with a short-sleeve over it, gloves ... I would wear a rain jacket and my pajamas as long as possible before dropping off my gear bag.

And the toe separator. Introducing something foreign into your shoe before a long run doesn't sound like a good idea, but maybe it was the weather but this old man was feeling a pain in his bunion.

Stepping out of the house it began to snow. Yes, today is May 15. In a little over a month it will be summer. However, for now, we have snow.

Chris and I met at the garage and walked over to the Q. It seemed like the worst was past, it was misty but not rainy. I had memories of how cool it was last fall before Twin Cities, and the morning just got better and better. This is not, however, how nature always works.

We found our pace group. The goal was an hour forty-two. I did not tell Chris that I hoped to beat my previous, I didn't want him to encourage me to go on without him if he started feeling it somewhere along the line.

Long story short, the weather became increasingly ridiculous. There was rain. There was sleet, there was more snow, and yes, there was hail. Hailstones. Lots of hail.

This is the first time I have ever run a long race with a partner, and it was really great. I mean, seriously, I do not believe either of us would have gone as fast, or even finished, without each other's good cheer and support. If I had been alone I would have been entirely miserable, I can tell you that.

However, we crack each other up, and were riffing with great skill until about mile ten when our chatter noticeably slowed. We succeeded in keeping up with the pace group (7:49) for most of the run, and it was at about mile nine that I felt were were slipping behind, and made an effort to catch up. Soon after we were both feeling it, though neither would admit it. It was all very positive.

The most amusing part of the route may have been the decision to take Train Avenue. I mean, really? You people won't send the marathon into the east side neighborhoods, but a dismal, chuckhole cratered wasteland is good enough for the tourists?

We started in on all the real estate possibilities of the hip new neighborhood soon to be referred to as Downtown Train.

The shitty weather kept crowds to a minimum (but a big thank you to all those who came out) and it's only upon reflection that I realized that I missed out on a lot of crowd interaction because we spent so much time in the middle of the street, to avoid the great puddles that form by the curb. I didn't read many signs, there were also much fewer of them.

When we turned onto Detroit from West 29th, after the mile eleven marker, we were suddenly struck by the devastation power of a Great Lake. It is a beautiful thing to live in proximity to such a majestic body of water as Lake Erie. However, when weather is inclement it can be an angry and unforgiving force. My grandfather sailed around the world, and he said the most dangerous body of water he had ever traversed was Erie.

But we did it. Onto the Shoreway, that final incline, we kept each other's spirits high, worked past the pace captain, and made it to the finish line.

It remained ghastly, every celebratory aspect of the finish line we were being pelted with rain and sleet. Grabbing food, receiving medals, I had to get my bag and put dry clothes over my wet ones, just to keep out the chill. My legs were terribly red. My fingers were numb, they could barely untie my laces. Later I would discover my wet socks had worn a nasty tear into my left heel.

Fact is, I have not felt this miserable after a race in a very long time, Years. When I got home, took a bath, had a nap, I ache, my knees hurt, Just ugh. Horrid weather. But, hey! Cleveland.

Chris and I had been joking about the post-race beer for days, and we actually went to get it. Because dammit! After a few sips, and attempted conversation with another runner, we decided this was pointless and pitched our cups to head off to get something to eat.

Inn on Coventry. Eggs Mando. Breakfast of champions.

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