OUaL and the Cleveland Race Trifecta
The Cleveland Marathon has such a big place in my itty bitty heart. My first ever race (half 2009), first marathon (2010), barfy 10k (2013), and I’ve since followed dozens of friends and family members finish their first, fastest, most painful, or happiest races there. Hometown nostalgia, familiar sights, and a top-notch event = swoooon.
This year I attended the race bib-less. I considered registering for the 10k just to participate, but nixed the threat of an out-of-shape slow time in favor of full-on cheer duties. I mapped out a route that would put me all over the course for cheering and pacing, and got excited about everyone else’s races – Mom and Mel’s 3rd(?) 4th(?) halves, and Dan’s first full!
But as they say, the best laid plans go to shit sometimes. I think that’s how it goes.
Just before 7am I said farewell to the racers as they headed towards the corrals and jogged down Ontario to my first station in front of Progressive (Jacob’s) Field, right at the mile two marker. I watched the African marathoners speed by, caught a glimpse of Volee superstar Heidi running the 10k, and peeled my eyes for my sister, who was planning to run around an 8:00 pace.
A lot of people run an 8:00 pace. A lot of people also wear all black and are 5’6” and completely blend in with the crowd. My sister being one of them.
When the 8:40 pace group went by I knew I’d missed her, but luckily a second later spotted my mom. I jumped in with her, completely interrupting a conversation she was having with some guy, and started jabbering away. Every time she reached for her other earbud I blurted something else out – “oh look that girl’s wearing rogas!” “I wonder who’s throwing for the Indians today?” “So my friend KJ’s sister in law Heidi is running the 10k…”
You don’t get to listen to music when I’m cheer-pacing.
“smile! a camera!” are things you shout when you’re high on other peoples’ races
At mile five I peeled off as planned to head towards the finish line, but realized the road I was going to cut through on deadends at the river and I was going to be stuck in a kind of shady part of town. Mom made a comment earlier about how she wished I could be at mile 11 because that’s where she always falls apart, and after studying the course map on my phone I realized that mile six pops out just across from there and it was probably my only way to get back downtown without completely backtracking.
So I sprinted to catch back up (yes I was heaving by the time I go there) and ran another mile with her.
And then we took a selfie.
“hiiii I’m back! smile!”
The Emergency Plan B Bonus Mile ended up being a good thing, because when we got to mile six Mel was standing there with a police officer. She got arrested for peeing behind a bush and was waiting to be taken to the station…
She was having some IT band/knee issues and had to pull out. She didn’t have her phone, the cop was less than helpful, and she was trying to figure out how to teleport back to the start when we rolled by. I said by to mom and we walked down 45th which intersected the 10k route at mile four. Walking hurt significantly less than running and we made the most of her bummer situation by gabbing and eventually watching the lead half marathoners roll by as we putzed down the shoulder of the bridge. After the 5th person told us “c’mon, you got it!” she ripped off her bib, tired of being mistaken for lead female who decided to slow-walk the last mile of the race.
if she’d been running we couldn’t have taken this super excited selfie with the most famous Indians fan, drummer John Adams, at mile 12.9 so I guess it worked out
Anyway, after depositing her at the finish area with Grandma I jogged back over the bridge and surprised mom at mile 11.5. She said she was running on empty, I told her we just had two hills to get through before the downhill finish. We walked up a bit of the first hill, at the top I said it was time to finish strong, “Your brain is saying you’re tired, not your legs!” She wanted to keep walking, I asked if she’d look back at this time and be mad that she gave in. She started running again. I lied three times on the last hill saying we were at the top, as she kept chugging with her head down. When we finally did peak, the downhill brought threats of puking and faceplanting. I told her “just pick up your knees!”, right as a poorly-filled pothole almost sent her somersaulting. We hit the bottom, ready to make the turn into the straightaway and I told her the finish was “just around the corner!”
Actual distance = at least 1/4 mile. Sorry, mom.
I peeled off and watched her cross the line in 1:59.08, a PR and her first time breaking two hours! I turned around to try and find Mel and Gma, wondering if mom ended up puking like she swore she was going to (she didn’t) and if she’d forgive me for telling her to “suck it up” back there (she did.)
brb shopping for a “my mom’s faster than your mom” bumper sticker
We all reunited and stood at the finish line cheering in the rest of the halfers, and eventually the marathoners started coming through. I did some math according to the runner tracking texts I was getting for Dan, and at 10:30 headed back towards the bridge to meet him at mile 23. With about seven miles already on my legs they were creaky and not super interested in running six more, but the endless curiosity over what state of marathon misery or ecstasy I’d find him in propelled me forward. I clapped and thumbs up’d all the marathoners en route to their finish as I ran the opposite direction down the shoreway (it was plenty wide so I wasn’t in the way) but after a few minutes I saw a cop heading towards me with his hands up.
cop “You can’t go this way”
me “Oh I have a friend at mile 23 that really needs me!”
cop “There are people on bikes and crewmembers for that purpose”
me “No no, he doesn’t need help, he needs a friend! He’s expecting me! It’s his first…”
cop “Are you a participant in this race?”
me (looks down at bib-less shirt) “Not exactly…”
cop “You need to turn around now”
me “What if I run back and get a bib from someone who’s already finished? Then it’ll look like I belong out here”
cop “You can’t run the wrong direction. Anyway we’re clearing the bridge, no one but runners are allowed on the shoreway now”
me “But I AM running, see…??” (starts dramatically slow jogging past him)
cop (grabs my shoulder and turns me towards the finish) “That way, NOW.”
And that’s the story of how I almost got arrested trying to secondhand experience the late Marathon Pain Cave. In hindsight I realize that race security isn’t something I should’ve been arguing with, and I’m grateful they were doing their job. Even if it meant only getting to see them for .1mi, just long enough to scream “you’re a fucking marathoner!” and high five him and Steph to their big finish.
Who has that kind of energy and cheer after 26.2 miles? Steph you crazy
So yeah, another Cleveland Marathon in the books and a serious temptation to register for next year’s race while the full is only $75.
Maybe next time the Indians won’t get absolutely trounced at the after-race game again.