Cleveland Marathon 2011

(you can also find this post on my Cleveland-related blog at http://onlycleveland.wordpress.com/)

Today was the Cleveland Marathon.   I participated in the Half Marathon with a friend of mine.

I have never been into running, and today was my first experience with any serious foot race.

Wow! What a first experience.  They estimated there were 19,000 participants.  Just wow.  I was completely relaxed for the event because I was just there for my friend.   I ran in the 5K on Saturday (completely different vibe, and very cool, but there’s just no comparison to today) and had a personal goal.  Today, I just was there to have a good time, get a little exercise, and cheer on my friend.  No pressure.

First, it took 10 minutes to cross the start line.  There was just such a huge mass of people that it took a solid 10 minutes from the start clock until I crossed the start line.  I really hated this part of the race.  I was way too close to way too many people.  It was claustrophobic.

As soon as I crossed the start line, things thinned out to where I was comfortable and I was able to just enjoy myself.  I am a lifelong Cleveland suburbanite.   I completely enjoyed being able to ambulate through the city.  I’ve been on the closed shoreway before, walking to Edgewater Park to watch the fireworks (before they moved the Fourth of July fireworks to Whiskey Island or wherever they’re held anymore.  But being able to go through blocked off streets in the different neighborhoods was pretty bad ass.

I loved getting to go all the way from Brown’s Stadium to Edgewater on the shoreway.  Going through the part of Cleveland where the shoreway ends, where all the beautiful houses are, was excellent.  I enjoy this by car.  It was way better on foot.

We went through Tremont, the Edgewater neighborhood, Ohio City, downtown (not in that order).   Going over the Hope Memorial Bridge, while it was closed to traffic was extremely bad ass.  I love the sculptures on the pylons.  I call them the Pillars of the King (because I am a geek, it’s a Lord of the Rings reference.  They are the giant statues of the kings of Gondor on the river Anduin from the Fellowship of the Ring movie), but apparently these are the Guardians of Transportation.

It was really chilly today, and at the four hour finish time (by four hours, I’d been done for a long time) while I was waiting, in only my race shirt, running shorts, a sports bra, and my socks and shoes, the rain really started in earnest and it got really, really, terribly cold.  The day turned pretty miserable about then for me.  It was even more miserable before I finally was picked up, able to kick off my soaking wet shoes, and able to put on some dry clothes.

Aside from the crap weather, which is a given in Cleveland, and some poor planning (I should have checked a bag with warm clothes and a cell phone or some money or something), this was amazing.  Seeing everyone else out there, and the big swarm of people behind us, was really inspiring, motivational.   I loved the cheering stations.  Some where race organized and that was cool but the spontaneous ones from people who lived around the route were the best.  The people in Tremont who set up their own water station were so enthusiastic!  You have to love Tremont.

There was a guy somewhere, it’s all one adrenaline-fueled blur, playing Born to Run on his guitar next to the course.  I wish I would’ve been around long enough to hear if he played any other songs or just that in a loop! That was so cool. Unless you’ve done one of these, it’s really difficult to properly convey the just general sense of community and energy and accomplishment.  Anyone who finishes is amazing.  I am in complete awe of the runners.

I met too girls with shirts that said “punk Rock Runners” or something like that.  One had a sequined hot pink tutu.  The other had a sequined black tutu.  They told me they had just run a marathon the previous Sunday!  Those sparkly girls are my new heros. If I ever become a true runner, I’m going to have to rock some silly outfits too.  Right now, I’m just trying not to attract to much attention and keep going.

My friend told me there’s a runner in me somewhere.  She must be buried deep but I want to see if I can find her. I do know that after hitting the finish line for the half marathon, I wanted to keep going.

With that frame of mind, I’m looking into signing up for the full marathon in Columbus.  My friend is already signed up.  And she’s talking about doing a triathlon.  I love biking.  I take 20-30 mile bike rides almost every week when it’s warm enough (and sometimes even when it’s not).  I love swimming.  I’m a strong, not fast, swimmer.  I could consider this.

I’d really like to do a silly race.  The Warrior Dash appeals to me.  Maybe I’ll go down and watch one this year to see what it’s like.  What’s not to love about beer and viking hats and mud?

Right now, I’m really grateful to my friend for motivating me to try these things.  She says I helped her with her time today.  Well, that’s a very small thing.  I was so happy to be her cheerleader and to do this with her.  She rocks.

And so do our medals!  I might never take mine off.  The guitar spins!

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