|Cleveland Marathon Pace Group. Anyone spot me?|
Months ago my buddy Nick told me he was pacing the Cleveland Marathon and said I should see if I can get in on it too. He put me in touch with Kara, the pace group leader for the race. After exchanging a few emails with her, I was in for pacing the 3:40 group (8:24 pace).
Fast forward a few months and six of us piled into a van Saturday morning, five pacers; Nick, Jon, Mike, Brett, Nick's wife Andrea and myself. We arrived at the expo center about four hours later, picked up our packets and made our way to the pacers booth. We met some of the other pacers and collected our pace signs and shirts.
After getting our goodie bags and chatting with the pace team, we made our way through the expo. They had a booth there advertising avacodos and were giving out samples of a pineapple guacamole. It was PHENOMINAL! After I devoured five or six samples before the rest of my group finally managed to drag me away. You bet your ass I got the recipe card first!
The Expo wasn't in downtown for some reason so that was kind of lame, but we fought our way through the baseball game traffic and got to our hotel around 4 o'clock only to discover that our rooms weren't ready yet!?! Seriously? WTF. We found out later that every hotel was booked solid the whole weekend because a Casino just opened in downtown that week and apparently it's a big deal? Anyway Nick, Andrea and I were sharing a room and were happily surprised to find that we had a kickin suite! This place was pretty big and apparently we were the only pacers with such amenities! I guess the wait was worth it lol. This became command central for our Kzoo group and we spent our free time hanging out there.
We gourged ourselves at the pasta dinner at the Hyatt and then took a foot tour of downtown Cleveland before retiring for the evening.(As if we wouldn't see enough of it on Sunday) There was some very cool architecture downtown, I actually wish we had more time to explore.
They wanted us at the start coral by 5:45 so we arrived promptly at 6....whoops. NBD everyone was slow to arrive and we stood around for a while anyway. After taking a picture of the pace group we lined up and waited for the start. I met a lot of really nice runners who were looking to run with us and fielded questions as best as I could.
The race started and as always, there is a large number of people who don't line up according to pace that we had to bob and weave our way through in the first mile. My co-pacer Mike, whom I met the night before at dinner, did a great job of getting us through the herd.
The first few miles clicked off without problem and I was learning more about the people running with us, and trying to give any advice I could along the way.
Though it as nice and cool at the start, the sun was starting to heat things up quickly. I alternated water and powerade at every water station and gu'd around every 45 minutes. At mile 10 there was a hill that, from what I'm told was not in the course last year, and it was a pretty decent hill. Fairly steep and not short. I think this is where we started to drop people. Mike and I kept trucking along right on pace, if not a couple ticks early. We found ourselves having to back off a touch from time to time, but he had also said we wanted a slight cushion built in for the last few miles becuase they are hot!
The half marathon split off around mile 12 and this made negotiating water stops much easier with a group. We still had a dozen or so runners with us who had been from the start but I did start noticing a few people were missing that I had talked to earlier. Like Beth who said I was quickly loosing points by not only being named Jordan, but also by being a Michigander. She was nice enough though that I'll let it slide haha.
The sun was really starting to heat up by mile 20 and I was using my pace sign as a sunblock to help keep it off my face. It actually worked really well! At mile 21 we caught one of the 3:35 pacers who had dropped off pace. He told us one of the 3:30 pacers had dropped out completely. I was still feeling good at this point but could definitely tell the heat was going to be a factor in the final miles.
By mile 23 I don't think any of our pace team was still with us. A mile later I started to catch myself trailing from Mike, first 10 yards, then 20, then 50. It was all I could do to hang on. According to my Garmin as I crossed the 24 mile mark I was still on pace and actually a little ahead but I was beginning to eat into the cushion we had built in.
Mile 25 I was really starting to stiffen up and felt thirsty. I got to the last water station, downed a cup of powerade and half a cup of water and dumped the rest on my head. This felt better for all of 300 yards or so, until I started to get dizzy. I realized I would rather not be in the middle of the road if I were gonna pass out, so I made my way to the side, near a group of people. Any cushion I had built was lost and I plopped down in some shade beneath a tree. Every bit of me wanted to be continuing on, but I was getting even more woozy at this point. I tossed my pace sign in the trash and asked a spectator if they could flag down a medic. I was actually a little scared at this point. It wasn't the pain I felt in Chicago with cramping, I actually wasn't cramping at all, it was more of a disoriented, going down quick, narrow vision type of thing. I felt this way one other time, when I was in third grade and I passed out in class. Not good.
I saw someone had flagged down two medics on bikes and they were approaching me when I, now sitting, turned to my side and vomitted half on my leg and half on the sidewalk. Classy lol. The medics arrived at my side and waited for me to finish expelling any fluid left in my body. Asked me how I was doing and started checking my pulse. 110 the first time and then 64bpm onle a few minutes later. Of course as soon as I had tossed any fluid from my body my left leg began to cramp pretty good, but not nearly as severe as Chicago. after sitting for a few minutes and the medics gave me the "ok" to continue on I started out back onto the course.
I started walking as quickly as I could but slowed a bit when I started to realize how thirsty I was. There was a half mile or less left and soon I saw Mike jogging toward me. He had waited at the finish for me but when I didn't show up, he started back out onto the course to find me. I was so thankful for this and couldn't thank him enough! Luckily he had half a bottle of water with him, and gave it too me. Now that I had some water in me we started a slight jog for the last stretch and though I was totally dead leg, trotting along, I was glad to be jogging to the finish.
While jogging in with Mike he told me he finished on time so that was a relief. I was feeling pretty terrible about missing the time goal especially when I was that close to the finish before things blew up. He did his best to reassure me that it was all good. I saw Kara almost immediately after finishing and before I could say sorry for missing the time she was already asking me how I was feeling and if I was okay, and reassuring me that everything was good. I still feel bad for not hitting the target the last mile, but they made it a little more bearable. Official finish time 4:10:12...
I found my friends who were pacing and we made our way back to the hotel to quickly shower and pack our things, since the hotel would not allow late check out and we had to be out by noon. This kinda sucked because I really wanted to just chill for a bit. Also Brett was pacing the 4:55 group, so he wouldn't even finish til noon so he had to pack his stuff before the race and shower via Wet Naps in the hotel lobby bathroom haha.
All in all it was a fun weekend with some great friends. Every part of me wishes I would have survived one more mile, but I can't do anything about that now and I've got to look forward to the next race, which I still haven't decided on yet. I'm open to suggestions. The race was done pretty well I think and I don't really have any complaints from a runners stand point. The medals are pretty bad ass too!
I'll post some pictures from the weekend later on this week when I get some more.