Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A "Pace" Report: Cleveland Half Marathon, 2013

On Sunday, I paced the sub-2 hour group for the half marathon in Cleveland!  It was as much fun as you can possibly have with 20,000 or so of your closest friends while being a sweaty, hot mess.  I loved every second of it, and hope to do it again sometime!

The short version: I made it in right on time at 1:59.49, and so did a lot of my crew!

The long version:  here you go!

I wanted to pace Cleveland for a few reasons.  A while back, I paced the 4:45 marathon group and LOVED it.  It was a lot of first-time 'thoners, and even though I only did the first half I really enjoyed helping them reach their goal.  In my quest to not be so stupid set realistic goals in the spring when life is really really crazy, I knew I wanted to have a race-day and that atmosphere minus the injury that has plagued me the past two Mays.  My good buddy Sarah wanted to break 2 hours in the half marathon while raising money for our friend Stacy's charity to fight pediatric cancer, and I thought it was a perfect fit for me!  I emailed Coach Kara (who is in charge of the pace teams every year) and she thought it was a great idea since so many people have that goal and the "4 Hour" Marathon pace team is so huge and full of half marathoners.  She even had a special sign made for me to carry, which I did the entire race:  "1:59.59."

The thing about carrying said sign?  Um, you'd better do it.  Because LOTS of people are counting on you.  And nothing is worse than putting your faith in a pacer who blows it, right?

This is why I was a little nervous on Saturday morning.  My allergies were HORRID last week, but I still thought everything was "just allergies."  I had no voice when I woke up Thursday or Friday, but Saturday was exceptionally bad.  My energy level was fine and I felt fine otherwise, so I knew it had something to do with these massive amounts of green pollen-filled nastiness that are falling from our trees and literally need to be shoveled/leaf-blown away daily.  I diligently took my Claritin and hoped for the best.

Race morning: still no voice.  WHAT?!  Who paces a Pace Team with no voice?!  I drank a ton of water and a bit of coffee and hit the car at 4:55am, hoping for the best.  I figured in an hour or two, I'd have my nice loud obnoxious voice (you know, kinda my trademark) back, just in time for the Pace Team.
Me and super awesome buddy, LJ!

Me with Debra, in from Chicago and trying a sub-2! Former BHS Rockets :)  
The 2013 Pace Team
I met all the Pacers and Coach Kara (who no longer is in town--sniff, sniff) and made some new friends, too, including 4 hour pacers Michele and Angel and another half-pacer Denine.  I sported my ridiculous sparkly skirt and carried my sign to the start line!
Carrying my sign
Heading to the start with Angel, who smiled the whole race!

And then we were off!
Right away, I knew it was HOT.  It was hot at 5am when I first got in my car, and all I could think about was, "Man, am I really glad I'm not running this full--or pushing this half too hard."  Of course, I didn't say that to my pace team, because they WERE pushing hard.  So I did focus on reminding them to DRINK LOTS.  I sort of yelled at them to drink like every 5-10 minutes.  They probably got a little annoyed at me, but it was HOT and I know what heat and humidity can do!  I also told them to keep those arms low and "don't run like a T-Rex!"  I figured the more reminders I could give them to stay hydrated and relaxed, the better.

Around mile 6 or so, it started getting pretty tough.  My group was getting smaller; the sun was shining, and it was hot hot HOT.  I kept telling them that it was going to start getting hard now, and to remember to trust their training and stay in the moment.  That they could do this.  The crowd support was great this year, and the crew in Tremont was nice and loud.  I did my best efforts to keep the crowds yelling for our "Sub-2 Crew!"
Me and the sub-2 crew, hamming it up
At mile 10, I told them there was "just a 5K left!" and that if they felt good, to take off and leave me.  No one took me up on it yet, even though there were a few who I thought looked really strong and wanted them to go ahead.  I said if you're NOT feeling good, just hang on, count your steps, and zone out--I'd get them there.  At this point, I could feel the crunchy nastiness of my sweat all over my face and even my arms.  The humidity was what was really killer; it was arguably our hottest day to date in Cleveland.  Even though I was running one of my slowest half-marathons to date, it felt really tough.  I knew for my pace team who was attempting a PR, this was a very difficult day to do it.  I tried to keep them as positive as I could and remind them that at this point, it was all up to their mind.  Around mile 11-12 I said, "Okay, who's gonna win today: the body or the mind?" One guy who had looked strong all day finally took me up on my suggestion to take off and leave me, and he looked great!  That was good to see.  We ran on, and finally it was time to head to E. 9th street.  We passed Jacobs Field okay fine whatever Progressive Field, home of my first-place Cleveland Indians (#RollTribe) and the crowds here were fantastic!  I knew on my watch we were cutting it close, but that was my job: to get as close to 1:59.59 as I could.

And as we turned the corner to the finish, I picked it up just to be extra safe:  1:59.49!
FINISHED! And hot.
I turned around and gave a BIG holla to all the crew that was still with me!  They looked exhausted but had that happy look in their eyes--the one where you're too tired to say anything and are panting like a dog, but KNOW you just did it.  And you're so happy.

Sarah had finished about 30 seconds ahead of the pace team, so I was super happy for her!  She went on to fulfill the Cross-Fit part of her fundraising: for every $5 she raised over her asking donation of $13.10, she did a burpee.  She went and finished 168 burpees, and Stacy and I cheered her on!  Overall, she raised over $1,400 for Roc4NB which goes directly to families in the area who have children fighting neuroblastoma.  I am so proud of Sarah--she worked so hard!
Sarah and her hubby, Rob, who both had great days!
True to her word: doing her burpees
Afterwards, I headed home to attempt to recover--as well as you can with a 3 and 5 year old.  So I turned on the sprinkler and headed to the park and got some ice-cream, and called it "recovery."

Spiderman Sprinkler
Super proud of Sarah, my neighbor Krystal who finished her very first half in 2:30 and is HOOKED (yay!), my other buddy Joanne who ran a 1:38 in that heat and set a massive PR, and my new running friend Katie who ran a 3:38 in her VERY FIRST marathon EVER.  How anyone can do that in that heat is beyond me.  Every single finisher earned that finish big time!

All in all, I got that finish line magic feeling without getting myself injured, which is a win-win in my book.

I do, however, have bronchitis.  Oops.  I guess my allergies morphed into bronchitis, and I finally did something about it yesterday.  So I guess I ran a half marathon with bronchitis...?  Who does that?  Oopsies.  Oh well!

Can't wait to shift into tri-gear for summer and continue to build upon my running fitness to hit Columbus ready for a 3:39!  Happy running, everyone!


moxie girl said...

Awesome race report, uh PACE report Sara! I'm glad an experienced runner (I still consider myself intermediate) thought it was warm out there too... I really wish I was in your group!! Maybe sub-2-hour will be my next goal :) Great job! You rock!!

1L said...

Great job, Sara! It was a pleasure to meet you on Sunday. I only made it to 21 with the group as those conditions were tough, but I knew that you and Denine brought a lot of runners in - including a few that were supposed to run the full but were not doing well that I advised to run a full another day. Thanks for your great work!!!

1L said...

It was a pleasure to meet you on Sunday, Sara and congrats for bringing the half marathoners (and some marathoners that I sent that way) in on time! I only made it to 21 on pace as that heat just did me in, and I didn't want to hurt myself. Good work once again!