Monday, May 21, 2012

Cleveland Marathon–Texas Hot #CLEMarathon

Super happy to have completed my 8th marathon at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. There are so many different emotions about this race.  I’ve anticipated it for quite awhile since I was asked to blog about my training and all.  I had some high expectations for it after coming off my Sub-4 hour marathon in March.


After running so many races in so many different race conditions, I really need to adjust my expectations before the race starts.  My mind has been set on hitting a new PR with a time of 3:55 since March.  I assumed that the Cleveland weather would have been more like Cleveland and not Dallas.

The Race

imageAt the start of the race I lined up just a little behind the 3:55 pacers.  I wanted to start out a little slower than them.  It was really congested with runners for the first couple of miles.  The 3:55 group was so bunched up that I passed them and got closer to the 3:45 group.  This was actually what I wanted to do so that I could have time for a couple of breaks – potty or whatever.

I felt comfortable with my pacing during the initial part of the race.  I didn’t feel that I was overdoing it.

Here’s a video of me that was streamed by the local news station – channel 5.  You can start watching at about 0:38.  I’ll be behind the 8:59/mile pacer.  This should be at about mile 13 or so.  I was still feeling good at this point.

Once I got to mile 14, I took a short potty break.  I waited until the Half Marathoners turned off at mile 12 and then went.  If I have to go early in a marathon, I usually wait until the Half Marathoners turn off so that the lines will be shorter.

Pity Party

At about mile 15.5, the wheels were falling off.  The heat was really zapping me.  I just couldn’t maintain speed and energy.  I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to hit my goal.  I really was having a stupid breakdown at this point.  I thought about all of the inspiring, awesome runners in my life… Denise, Felix, Hamlin, Susan, Libby, Anoop, Zack, Kim, Chris, Corina, Christy, Elaine, Hari, Steve, Bernie, Heather, Paul Arguso, Michele & Erik K.  The list is really long… I’m sure I missed someone, but I hope you know who you are!  I thought of y’all!

I tried to suck it up and push through.  Heck, I had that written on my arm, but all of the sweat pretty much washed it off.  While walking, I called my best friend, my wife, Ursula and told her of the challenges that I was having.  I told her that I was feeling like crap way too soon in the race. Right then, I just wanted to be home with her.  She encouraged me and told me that I could do it.

Ursula, my wife, was so sweet. I once told her that to encourage me, she could say, “Show me how great you are!” She texted that to me along the Pity Party.  Here’s how the text conversation went…

Ursula:  Show me how great you are! But I already know!!!!
Me:  I suck
Ursula:  No, you don’t. Weather conditions can change expectations. Be positive, you and Denise are out there – that’s awesome!  Keep going!  I love you!


At mile 19, I thought I’d tweet about my Pity Party.  I could hear all of the encouraging tweets coming in to encourage me.  I couldn’t read them because of the sun and lack of reading glasses on the course.  But, I drew off of them.

Change of Plans

The Pity Party lasted until about mile 20.  As I was starting to take more walk breaks, I started to talk to others.  I met Shawn from Hudson, OH who was running his first marathon.  We struck up a great conversation.  We shared the same run/walk strategy toward the end.  There was a time or two that he said that I should go on, but I said no, that I’d stick with him.  He was stuck with me.  :)

Meeting up with Shawn was probably the best thing that could happen for me that day.  It really shifted the focus from my little pity party to be a part of something bigger… getting to be a part of Shawn’s first marathon. 

He said that he felt bad for his parents as he was on pace for 4 hours earlier in the race, but was hoping to beat 5 hours.  He said that they’d be waiting for awhile.  I told him that we’d easily hit under 4:30.  We’d finish with a time of 4:21.

At one point, I saw a bridge coming up as we were running.  I said let’s run to the bridge and walk through the shade. I chuckled as he said that he was thinking the same thing.  We kept knocking down one mile marker, one water stop down after another after another.  I told him the big thing was to break the rest of the race down into smaller chunks.

We finally took our last walk break after the last water stop.  As we were getting close to the mile 26 sign, I heard someone call his name.  I asked who that was and he proudly said his dad.  Too cool!

P1000473As we were getting closer to the finish, Shawn wanted to sprint it out.  I loved it!  I’m so happy and proud that he wanted to finish strong.

There were tons of people lined up at the final chute, but they were pretty quiet.  I got them going by waving my arms and pointing to Shawn, shouting that it was his first marathon.  I told him to draw on the cheers and the adrenaline would finish him out.

2012-05-20 11.33.30I got to meet Shawn’s family after the race.  They were super proud of him. 

Again, it was so great to meet up with Shawn.  It really is so much more rewarding helping others achieve their goals than selfishly frustrated at your own.  God wants to use me in so many ways.  If I would just skip the Pity Party and listen to God, things would be a whole lot easier!

As I’ve said before, every marathon is full of emotions and experiences that you’ll never get to experience unless you get in there.  I hope your Cleveland Experience was a great one despite the heat.  I’m urging my sister to do a race recap.  She did well despite the heat, but I’ll live it to her to share her experience.


Anonymous said...

SUch an awesome story. I love that you did this and he will always remember it. Congrats on another finish. Sorry our Cleveland weather was so hot. Last year it was practically snowing at the finish.

Rob Erekson said...

You stuck through it and finished, that's the important part. As you said, you can never fully anticipate race day weather so you must do the best you can with what you're given. Good job getting through it!

runningmom2boys said...

Congrats on FINISHING! Looking at the number of finishers, it looks like we were among the few! I LOVE the running community---the fact that you stuck with a first time marathoner and helped him to the finish is just another example of how wonderful runners are! Great job, Mark!

Elaine Hillis said...

Mark, I'm in tears!!!! You are an inspiration, a true servant of God! I'm so glad you were there that day running!

Emily said...

Great job and post, Mark! It's all about keeping things in perspective. You did a great job Sunday. The heat was a killer. All the best!

Becky said...

This post brought tears to my eyes. You are an inspiration to us all and I admire your always positive attitude. Congrats on your race

inspirunning said...

CONGRATS Mark! It was a beast of a day, and we can say we overcame it! Redemption is in store and you will def get that sub 4 next time!!

Lory Teague said...

Oh geez, you got me crying, thanks for sharing this amazing story! Loved reading it!