On Sunday, my day started dark and early for the Rite-Aid Cleveland half marathon! I left the house at 4:30 am, in order to make the drive and find parking before they started closing the roads. Traffic was light, so that was a plus! I made it into a parking lot and just chilled for about 30 minutes. At 6am, I made my way to Cleveland Browns stadium, where the start/finish areas were located.
I did not need baggage check this year (last year was rainy, so I had warm-up clothes with me that I needed to check), and I was happy about that as the line was Really. Long. That seems to be an area that they could work on, to get it to flow a little better (maybe 2 rooms instead of just 1?). So I was able to just wander around and take in the atmosphere. I did see a friend and an ex-boss (I received hugs from both!), they were also running the half marathon (and they both did awesome!).
About 6:30am, I made my way to the starting area. Cleveland doesn’t have corrals, and last year they didn’t have anything to indicate where you should start (depending on your finishing time), so there were a lot of slower runners and walkers that started too far up front. This year, they had pacing markers and the announcers did a good job in making sure people paid attention to the markers in order to line up accordingly. That helped a lot!
I like Cleveland’s course. Running through neighborhoods where the people come out and cheer you on. Musicians that are out there with just a guitar and an amp- simple, but effective. There really is only 1 steep incline throughout the half-marathon course, so it’s considered a fast, flat course!
The only negative I saw, was at some of the later water stations – they seemed to be ill-equipped with water and Gatorade. It was a warm day- when I finished, it was 80 degrees, so I’m sure people were taking in lots of fluids. However, a few water stations had either gotten hit with a big group of runners and they couldn’t keep up with the demand, not enough volunteers for the demand, or not enough supplies. I’m not sure what happened, but I do know that the volunteers were working hard to fill cups as fast as possible.
Heading into the finish is always wonderful! The amount of people cheering from the sidelines is enough to make me pick up my pace and it makes me smile (as they yell at you- Finish strong!). After you finish, Cleveland does a great job at getting runners liquids and food. Water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, popsicles, bananas, chips and pretzels- all of these were available to the runners within 100 feet from the finish line. And you can’t forget the finishers medal! So cute! I’m not sure how many years Cleveland has used this design, but I love the spinning guitar!
Overall, I really enjoyed myself and I had a good race. My pacing was better, but I still have a tendency to slow down in the 2nd half of the race- I need to keep working on that!