First, the Expo on Saturday was fun! I took DD Maggie, rushed over to the Expo after a morning track meet ( which had been rescheduled from Thursday because of thunderstorms) and we arrived in the parking lot just in time for a downpour. After staying in the car waiting for the rain to subside for a bit, we made a mad dash through the parking lot to the entrance. We met fellow bloggers Jodi, Jenn, Dave, and Sara, and Maggie took a picture of us:
We went through the expo, picking up the race packet ( with a bright pink shirt!) buying socks, collecting cards and samples, bags, and at the Second Sole booth I bought a pair of hot pink compression sock sleeves. We found Anne Audain and Bill Rodgers signing autographs!
Fun! We soon decided we had enough, and headed home. Dinner that night was spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread, and then I was actually semi-smart and went to bed at a decent time. Coach E was giving me a ride down to the marathon the next morning, and wanted to pick me up at 5:15am! So I set my alarm for 4:30am.
The next morning was foggy and peaceful and dark! We drove down only to discover the city had already started closing off streets for the marathon – we had been warned to get down there by 6am, but at 5:40ish there were already closures and we had to wind our way down. Coach E had been given a VIP parking pass – he runs the marathon with the kids from Woodbury School running club running with him as a relay team, and Howard Mack’s child is in the running club this year! I’m not sure we actually parked in VIP parking, but we walked down to the stadium to wait for the start. I ate my PB& honey sandwich, drank lots of gatorade, and finally left Coach E and the kids to check my bag and make one last bathroom stop. I walked through the stadium to find the start area, only to find it so crowded I couldn’t even get into the start area until after the race had started! There were a bunch of us waiting on the side ready to hop in when there was an opening. I saw the 3:50 group, jumped in behind them, and promptly lost them. It was so crowded it felt impossible to try to stay with anyone – so I just tried to find my pace, and not loose too much energy weaving in and out of the crowd. For some reason, I felt really nervous, like my heart was racing! I tried to relax and calm down, but it took a couple miles before I finally felt better. The crowd was amazing as we headed into the near West side, and I remembered Boston last year, how there were people lining the road and cheering the whole way. The west side was like that. Around mile 3 I realized I had too much gatorade and needed to make a pit stop – there were portapotties every mile or so, and I decided to wait until I saw some that didn’t have so many people in line! Finally around mile 6 I found one, and felt much better after that.
I hadn’t worn my Garmin, I wasn’t sure how this marathon was going to go, and decided to rely on my regular sports watch instead. So of course I don’t remember any splits! I do know I was calculating how I was doing by multiplying by 9s- and I think I was on pace until around mile 15-16, where I felt my legs slowing down. We were on a long stretch on Chester I think, heading for Martin Luther King drive, and I caught up to a runner mom I knew from Gesu. She went ahead for a bit, then I caught up again, but then the 4 hour group came up to pass us and she was able to go with them. I couldn’t. I think I gave up a bit then, no walking, but my legs were hurting more than they should be at this point and I definitely slowed down. I also realized I was starving! I had safety-pinned 3 packs of sportbeans to my shorts, and had already eaten one pack at the one hour mark, but had forgotten to have more at the two hour mark. So I opened a pack and ate them – grabbed some water at the waterstop and tried to chew, chew, chew. The temperature must have dropped, because they were cold and hard to chew. I walked till I finished the water, then started running again. Now we were by Lake Erie, and the wind picked up. I liked the bike path we were on, it seemed like it wasn’t too far until the finish, ( well, it was still a good 10k to go at this point, but I was trying to trick my mind into still running!) and I stayed with another woman for a while until we turned back to the city streets again, where she moved ahead and I slowed down.
Still, I kept going. The morning had been cool, misty and foggy, but now it turned more windy. I had seen the running club kids at different water stops waiting for Coach E to come running by so they could run their turn, and had passed two of the track girls at mile 18 – and I knew I was slowing down enough they might catch me. I had also hoped to see my family at the 17 mile mark, or the 20 mile mark, but they hadn’t been there, so every intersection I looked for a familiar face. Around mile 22.5 Coach E and the group caught up to me – he saw I was hurting, and told the track girls, Erin and Chloe, to stay with me and do whatever I needed. And right after that I saw my family!! I tried to pick up the pace, but my legs just didn’t want to. Erin and Chloe stayed with me, talked with me, blocked the wind, and it was great. I am sure I would have walked a lot if it wasn’t for them being there. We got powerade at one last waterstop, but ran the rest of the way, although very slowly. We saw the 24 mile mark, the 25 mile mark, then finally turned down the road to the 26 mile marker, and made the final turn to the finish. We crossed the line, I got my medal, Erin got me a banana, we grabbed water and pretzels, I gave them both a hug and realized it had started raining hard! The temperature must have really dropped at some point, and now it was windy, rainy, and cold. We headed inside the stadium, said our goodbyes, and I went to get my bag and call my family. Sitting down and changing out of my wet, cold shirt never felt so good. Luckily I had put my rain jacket and a couple dry shirts in my bag, I needed them for the walk to the car.
Oh, and did I say what my time was? My chip time is 4:13:09. So even slower than my 4:12 at Boston last year. What happened? I’m not really sure, but I know I felt in great shape at the Shamrock marathon in March except for my hamstring and my horrible sinus cold. I think trying to extend that to Cleveland didn’t really work for me, I’m not sure why. Last week all I could think about was how I was going to train after the marathon was over! I was really dreading running Cleveland, I just felt like I wouldn’t run as fast as I wanted. But I am glad I did run, I am glad I finished. Every marathon is a huge accomplishment, no matter how fast or how slow.
So what now? Do I try and run another marathon before the Boston signup period to try and qualify for 2012? I’m not sure – I would have to run another before registration closes on September 24th. I’ll have to check marathonguide.com to see if I can find one not too far away. I think I’m going to try to build my mileage and concentrate on shorter races for a while, similar to Flo – see this post and this post. I don’t know. I guess I will see how it goes!