Sunday was the culmination of two months of training and an entire year of hoping and praying. I ran my second half-marathon, the Cleveland Fall Classic Half Marathon in Strongsville, Ohio. I managed to PR and shave about three minutes off my previous half-marathon time.
Cleveland Fall Classic Half Marathon
I stepped outside race morning and it felt warmer than the projected high of 55-degrees. I opted for a long-sleeve technical shirt. Later I would learn that the 18-mph winds that were predicted were non-existent in the wooded area this course was in. I found myself sweating buckets and wishing I had worn a T-shirt.
I had a piece of multigrain toast with peanut butter for breakfast and a fair share of water. Once we arrived at the race I spent 30-minutes in line for a porta potty. By the time the wait was up it was less than 10-minutes until race start. I was a bit panicked, but managed to down an Espresso Love GU, do a brief warmup and get to the starting line.
Just before the cowbell rang.
But before I knew it the race had started — rather abruptly with the ringing of a cowbell. Runners around me seemed equally confused. Before we knew it we were running!
Mile 1-3: I settled into a decent pace of 11:00 to 11:15 per mile and felt comfortable maintaining that pace. My legs were fresh. I enjoyed watching the other runners. We were surrounded by trees in a wooded area and ran on a paved road.
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Mile 4-7: By this time the faster half-marathoners began to double back. The course was a loop that you ran twice. I kept my eyes open and saw Jess. Later during my second loop back I would see Kali too.
My left IT band began to bother me but I just held out hope it wouldn’t become too painful. As I neared the finish of my first loop I saw crowd support in the form of Kimi, Chelsea, Christie, Heather and Sarah. Later I saw the husband who was hanging out solo (bless him!) and he snapped a pic as I passed by.
Heather snapped this pic. I swear I am running.
Mile 8-10: By mile 8 my hips were already on fire from exhaustion. Mentally I began to get discouraged because I realized I still had quite a ways to go before the finish. I continued with my routine of walking through each water stop.
Mile 10-12: I came around the back turnaround for the second and last time and by now the course had really thinned out. I took the last of my Clif Shot BLOKS just before the last water stop. I also had to stop and walk several times here. My pace slowed to more like 12:00/mile during the second half of the race.
My IT band was becoming increasingly painful. Then I reached the “breaking point” was when I finally stopped briefly, crossed my ankles and leaned over to stretch my left leg.
Mile 12-13.1: Knowing I only had about a mile left I tried to finish without walking any more. It was really hard. I looked at my watch and knew that if I PRed it would be very close. But by now I just wanted it to be over!
Eyeballing the finish clock to see what my time is.
Cleveland Fall Classic Half Marathon
Official Time: 2:33:31
Average Pace: 11:43/mile
Age Group Placing (Female 25-29): 34/44
Overall Placing: 551/603
I was handed my race medal in a baggie. I begged the husband to run up to a pavilion and get me a glass of water. The pavilion had post-race pasta and refreshments, but we opted to go out for lunch post-race with the cheering crew. Lunch was fun but I was also really eager to get home and shower once we were done eating! What can I say? I’m high maintenance.
Would I Recommend This Race?
With a low entry fee of $40 this race is pretty basic. There is post-race fare offered for runners. I did receive a long-sleeve technical shirt and I loved the design (retro) and being an XS it actually fits me perfect! And of course I received a finisher’s medal.
Logistically, runners were told to park in a RTA Park-N-Ride lot near the course, but that left us walking about 1/2 mile each way to get to the race and back. The course itself is flat and paved, however, there are long sections of angled pavement, which can really do a number on your body.
I also wish there had been more water stops. I counted seven, but it didn’t seem like enough. I won’t make this an annual race, but I won’t count it out permanently either.