Monday, May 18, 2009

Race Report: Cleveland Half Marathon 2009

Well, no pics of me yet, so you'll just have to hear me ramble. :)

Anyway, let me first say a huge shout out to all my Second Sole and CTC peeps who ran yesterday. I've run this race (half and full) several times and I think despite it having several bugs (like, um, THE FREAKING PACE CAR FOR THE 10K GOING THE WRONG WAY THREE YEARS AGO) it IS getting better. And I really do want my hometown race (which is 32 years old!) to do well, ya know? This year the atmosphere was awesome. You could tell they had really worked to embrace the Rock and Roll theme, and it showed. The course was full of spectators for most of the way which was nice. It's come a long way since I hobbled down a lonely, uninviting path and had to beg for a finisher's medal in my 5:14 marathon back in 2002.

Also, a HUGE shout out and thank you to Coach Emily. She's been amazing and knows just how hard to push me so I don't pansy out, while at the same time understanding my crazy insane time constraints. Thanks for everything! :)

So my super goal was 1:45. This was the upper limit of what I knew was possible, given that I'm 6 weeks past New Orleans and didn't really get many long runs in. My speed's been kickin', but I wasn't sure how my endurance would be or just how long I could hang on for dear life. So the plan was to go with the 3:30 pace group and hang as long as I could.

Race day was COLD (44 degrees) and clear skies. Which means PERFECTPERFECTPERFECT! for me. The poor guy next to me at the start line was from South Carolina and was shivering as I stood in my tank top and shorts. He asked me if I was crazy and/or cold. I told him, no...see...this is what I call KARMA from New Orleans! I put in my suffering death march down in the Big Easy. Now it's time for this YANKEE to kick some booo-tay in the cold!

The gun went off and I just KNEW it was going to be a good day. I knew even before then, actually. I knew I would PR (my previous PR was 1:50.06 from last year), and it was just a matter of how much.

I'll let my mile splits tell the story...


Kinda crowded and crazy, but felt nice and easy. We ran down by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and around Cleveland Browns Stadium.

An evening shot of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

We got a nice little climb back into town and then ran down all the fun little establishments on West 6th in the Warehouse District where I used to cause trouble on a weekly basis. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny morning, and after about 3 blocks I was nice and warm like I knew I would be. Today was going to be a good day; I just knew it.

You can see where we ran around the stadium and back up to the city here. Oh much to say. There's always next...decade?


My mind's jaw dropped a bit--I guess I didn't expect to see any sevens, which is crazy when you're going for an 8 minute/mile pace. Did I think I'd be all 8s? Still, it felt a little scary for me to flirt with disaster at a pace that used to be just a few seconds slower than my 5K pace. We ran by Jacobs Field (or Progressive Field--whatever. Still the Jake.) and The Q, where Game One starts again Wednesday. I was feeling good.

All hail the King.




At this point, I realized I just beat my previous 4 mile PR of 32.11. Nice!


Okay. Seeing an 8 made me feel a bit more at ease and a little less like I was walking a tightrope over a swirling pool full of ill-tempered sea bass. Broke 40 minutes and another PR of 40:02, my previous best at 5 miles.

6-- 8:01.

Hit the 10K in 49:40, which beat my previous record of 51:30 that I set in this very race last year. As an aside, I wonder what I could do in a short race now? At this point, I'm feeling so good that I high five a few kids. The pace felt SLOW. Since when is THIS MY REALITY?! WHO HAS HIJACKED MY BODY?


Easy-peasy. I could do this shizz all day. We were running through my old neighborhood and Matt's old neighborhood at this point, so I saw all kinds of fun memories on the street corners. Lots of great was at this point that I knew I was going to blow 1:50 away. No question. Just a matter of by how much. I couldn't help but wonder how long I could keep this up. Things were just too perfect.


8 and 9-- 16:20.

I missed the 9 mile marker, which was totally messing with my brain. I started to struggle just a bit catching up with the pacer after trying to suck down a Gu. My legs started to not respond to my brain quite as well. I knew this was it. Here comes the pain. I watched the pacer slowly creep away and his balloons bounce down the road ahead of me, creeping away slowly. "Run your own race...don't worry about foot in front of the other..." I hoped and prayed my Gu would kick in soon, and I feared the worst at the next mile marker.


Wait! Okay! I'm OKAY! What felt like 10 was really 8! Now we were turning onto the Shoreway along the lakeshore and I knew this could get hairy. It was a long, steady, gradual climb up the bridges back into the city. Could I do it? The Gu kicked in a little bit, but I could feel it. My legs were slowing down BIG TIME. I started a little mental war in my head. Most of it is not fit to be printed on this nice PG-13 rated blog. Let's just say I was screaming at myself and using lots of words that rhyme with duck and grass and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt and Ice Road Truckers.


Oh POOOOOOOOOOOOOOPSANDWICH. That was horrid. And it wasn't over yet, either. We weren't to the top yet. I did everything I could to make my legs keep up with my heart, but I was running out of steam.


THANK YOU ALMIGHTY. We are at the TOP of the freakin' Shoreway. The guy next to me said, "It's all downhill from here...we're almost there." And I managed a weak smile. We were. I looked at my watch and I knew. 1:50 was gone. Demolished. It was just a matter of how much, and that was still up to me.

13 and .1--8:56.

Finish time: 1:47.06.

A three-minute PR to the second.

Average pace 8:10/mile. 34th/394 in Age Group; 169/2368 females. I left everything I had out there. Nothing, and I mean nothing was left. I've never finished one of these--including a marathon--feeling like nothing was left. I've always held back a bit, so it was painfully fun to see what happens when you go all out and do something crazy risky.

It was sooooooooooo fun.

I got a bit verklempt at the finish line. If Bug and Matt were there, I would have lost it. I knew what this race meant, and I knew what I just capped off.

One solid year of 2 half marathons, 1 olympic distance triathlon, 1 marathon, and 2 half ironmans...ALL PR'S. Every. Single. ONE.

I had many fears when I was pregnant. Mostly having to do with the baby, its health, and my ability to raise it being a clueless person who was never into arts and crafts (seriously--I got a C in 6th grade art. Who gets a C in 6th grade art?! It remains my lowest grade ever to this day); who was completely overwhelmed and intimidated by Parent Magazines full of artsy ways to make a peanut butter sandwich, and who is repulsed by the color pink and felt WAAAAYYYY out of her element at Babies R Us. Then, with a few exceptions, all I seemed to hear when I was pregnant was how much "things would change" and how I'd have to give up "those races" I liked to do. Or how I would need to have "pre-baby PRs." And it petrified me. I knew I just could not sit home and do crafts. No way. That is not me...that has never been me, and I refuse to believe that is what a "good" mother has to be.

It doesn't. I know this now.

I owe everything that I've done in the past 12 months to Matt and to my Bug. Every PR is because of them. We've been very creative in our training and our lives. And we've made it work. Not just work, we've made it spectacular.

I feel like I barely recognize myself anymore.

Here I am now, 31 years old. I've been writing here for almost four years. And at this point, I can truly say that my life is full of more joy than I ever could imagine. It's busy and crazy, and I don't make three-tiered forts out of Cheerios or even really read the parenting magazines. But we laugh and smile all day, and this home is full of so much joy.

And I can race. Faster than I ever could before; faster than I ever thought I would. And I'm not done yet.

Not even close.


Skye said...

Congratulations! What an amazing year you've had!! I actually got choked up at the end of this. I had so many of the same fears when I was pregnant. I'm not arty or crafty at all. I can't sew or bake. I somehow imagine that all this would somehow emerge along with the baby and I recently gave away all the knitting things I BOUGHT when pregnant thinking I would suddenly start knitting!! Crazy, huh, and even crazier if you actually know me.

It took me almost five years until I let go of this image of changing personality into a "mother". Now I've given away the knitting stuff, and started training again and I feel like me. My daughter is seeing a mother who is fit and healthy and lifts weights, and a father who does the cooking and shopping. Our house is full of fun and joy and music and books and sweaty exercise equipment and laughter and love.

Sorry, maybe this should have been a blog post! Yay for mums who run and well done on your fabulous half PR!!!

Velma said...

Who needs Cheerio forts - you are awesome. It is really fun to watch your journey.

Chloe said...

Forget the parent magazines! It seems like you have it down like a freaking pro! CONGRATS on the great season so far! And a pr by 3 minutes!??! That is Awesome!! The BF and I where talking about getting hitched and having babies - but I felt just like you did. Babies? No more races? What?!? Thanks for the positive words :)

Michelle said...

Sarah, I am so happy for you! You're not limited in any way because of motherhood. What you want just changes a bit. Look at what you've done!Yee Haa!

Carolina John said...

nice! the balance between parenting and racing is a tough line that we all have to walk very carefully. try having 2 kids... it's even harder.

Ohio Endurance Trainer said...

Congrats on another PR! If anything, you are setting a perfect example for Bug. Leading a healthy athletic lifestyle is much more important than being crafty.

As a proud dad of one awesome 2 year old daughter, I felt sort of the same way, but I've only gotten better by becoming more structured and organized...I never waste free time or put off a workout anymore! Now, I have a second baby on the way and I am excited, willing, and able to meet the challenge of balancing life with 2 kids!

Wes said...

Vary cool, Sarah! You are having an amazing year! I believe your potential was there all the time, and Bug and hubby has been the catalyst, as it should be :-)

anna jo said...

thank you for this. I've been lurking for some time and always admire your attitude -- especially toward working out and your family. I don't think there should be any one vision of what motherhood is. you are you and will bring your own strengths to the table. it looks like you've been such a great mom so far, it's very inspiring.

and as I'm pregnant right now with my first it's hard not to have some of the same thoughts and feelings you went through. will I ever be able to race again like I want to? will I be slower? will I have the time to train? especially since I had to stop running about a month ago because of a mysterious knee injury the thought of not running anymore scares me. (at least I still have the pool, which I know will keep me sane over these hot summer months!) but then I think of you and how you did it/are doing it. I want to know your secrets! how do I get the benefit of baby blood doping?? :)

anyway, congrats on the PR! those are always so fun, especially when you've worked so hard + sacrificed so much for it!

RobbyB said...

Woot! Great stuff, Sara! Keep knocking those PRs out.

Which name did you go with on your jersey this year? ;)

Renee said...

Excellent post and excellent race! I could feel the excitement and pride in your words! You have accomplished so much! Way to go!!

Emily Cocks said...

Loved reading how it all went down. Nice work and there is more to come!

greyhound said...

Great race, and I really like the end of this post.

From a boy's point of view, motherhood is a weird paradox and potentially dangerous. On one level, everything changes--and it kinda should. On another, the changes better not be EVERYTHING or there's trouble. You still have to be the authentic you that existed before or else nobody is content--not you, not hubby, and in the end, not even Bug. No kid needs to be the center of the universe, and mommies who revolve entirely around little precious find out they've got no purpose when little precious grows up the nest empties. Very tricky.

But YOU are nailing it.

Alili said...

Congratulations on a great race and for living your life to the absolute fullest! You're my hero at the moment as I embark on my own fearful journey of baby and body image. :)

jbmmommy said...

Great report. And I may never have your speed, but as a mother of three with a full time job (out of the house), I know you can achieve whatever you want. It's all about a new balance in your life, glad things are going well for you. All the best for more in the future.

Fe-lady said...

Great report! Congrats on all the pr stuff-it must be the "being a mom" thing and training smart and fast!
Thanks for the Cleveland photos...I LOVE Cleveland! Many nice memories!

Robyn said...

I'm also 31 and am having my first child in July. Been following your blog since your IM and thank you SO MUCH for this race report - and the full story behind it. Great inspiration for this next grand adventure!

Matt McSkimin said...

Congrats Sara! If the Cavs don't do it this year, I am looking to you for my Cleveland sports success.

Leah said...

Great post. You have a way of saying things that really hits home. Congrats on the PRs, but bigger congrats on being in a good place and loving life.

Kim said...

you are one of those women - a wife, a mother, and a kickass triathlete/runner - and i am in AWE! congratulations!

tri-mama said...

Congrats Sara! I think there are a lot women who give up on being moms because they feel intimidated. It's so simple- just love and enjoy your family! What a great example to set :-)

ShesAlwaysWrite said...

Congratulations!! It does my poor plantar fasciitis pain ruined season GREAT to see you doing so amazingly well!!

I'm still doing my sprint next week - not trained at all, foot hurts like hell every day, but I want so much for my little Bear to see me out there having fun with it.