SPOILER ALERT: They changed the course this year and although I only ran it once before in 2013, compared to last year, it didn’t meet my expectations.
2014 Cleveland Half Marathon Review:
- Cleveland has been obsessed with the new Cleveland Convention Center lately, and to be honest, it’s really not that amazing. Yes it looks pretty, but this was the Cleveland freaking Marathon – it should have stayed right there in front of Lake Erie, in front of the Cleveland Browns Stadium and in front of the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Instead they pushed us into Public Square to start the race and then crammed us into the green by the new Convention Center to end the race.
- The corals leading up to the start of the race were irrelevant and it was packed to the brim. Starting in Public Square is overrated and was just a bad idea in general. We had way more room in front of the Browns Stadium last year, plus we were right on the water – it screamed Cleveland! This year we were smashed between buildings and unable to see anything around us.
- The crowd support wasn’t as great as I expected. I read somewhere that the reason the course changed was to get MORE crowd support, ironically.
- One of my favorite parts about last year was entering the Shoreway stretch into Lakewood and looking ahead and seeing a giant swarm of runners heading up the hill. It was amazing and inspiring to see. This year they threw that hill and highway stretch in for the last 1.5 miles of the course. Nothing was more suffocating than a hill at mile 11 and seeing nothing but a stretch of bland highway ahead of you. At this point runners were all spread out and struggling and it didn’t have the same inspiring effect as last year.
- In 2013’s course, I loved crossing the bridge from Tremont and heading back into the city past Progressive Field. I loved turning the corner on St. Clair and heading down to the finish line. The 2013 course winded and twisted runners around the buildings of downtown Cleveland and you could hear the finish line as you grew closer and closer. This year, the finish line appeared out of nowhere after a grueling highway hill. There was nothing special. No magic. No inspiration.
- The entire course was reversed compared to 2013. At mile three this year we were passing a church and neighborhood block party passing out beer that we had passed at mile 11 the year before. The whole thing mentally threw me off.
- The finish line straight was super narrow and I had a hard time getting around other runners while I was trying to sprint it out.
- Despite how awful I thought the course was, I still managed to set a new PR time for a half – and so did the fiance! My new PR is 2:11. (Next I’m going for 2:05.)
I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but the race really did not meet my expectations this year. Maybe I set them too high though. Last year this was my first half marathon ever and the entire sport of competitive running was brand new to me. Regardless, I favored 2013’s course and I hope they switch some things around based off of people’s comments – because from what I heard – the hill during the last 1.5 miles was not a crowd favorite. I still love Cleveland though and I imagine I’ll be back next year.
So what’s next?
Well… I’m doing it… My first triathlon! I’m two weeks out from The Great Western Reserve Triathlon on June 8th in Ravenna. Of course I’ll be doing the Sprint Distance – 750 meter swim (.46 mile), 13.1 mile bike ride and 3.1 mile run. I’ve been training for about three months and although I’ve gotten better at swimming in that time, I’m still incredibly nervous and intimidated by the open water.
This past weekend I did my trial run-through in which I completed the entire distance in all three sports. I finished everything (including transitioning) in 1:53. I set my goal to finish in around 2 hours, although I won’t be mad if I don’t make that time. My main goal here is to not drown during the swim! As soon as my feet hit the solid ground after that swim on race day I will be one happy girl! My trial run-through gave me confidence that I can compete in the swim, but I have a tendency to focus more on time and just trying to get it over with. When I think like this my form gets sloppy and I quickly become exhausted. As long as I remain cool, calm and collected and I swim with good form then I’ll be good to go, but if I panic and flop around trying to stay afloat I’m done for. Worrying about the swim has seriously kept me up at night lately, but I have to remain in control of my fears. I have to go into the race with the mentality that I will beast mode that swim and it will be a piece of cake. If I think and believe that I can do, then I’m already half way there.
More races coming up:
- Mentor Flag Day 5K on June 11.
- Lake Health Half Marathon in Kirtland on June 15 (I wanted to run this race last year, but it was all sold out when I went to register. It should be a nice, scenic run and I’ve heard good things about it.)
- Woodland 5K in Kirtland on June 22 at the Holden Arboretum.
Lots of big races coming up! I’m so excited and nervous for all of them. Big things are happening and training is at an all-time high. (Is it weird that I get excited about waking up at 5AM to train!?)
This is what I love about summer – training and going out there and running your heart out at the race. I love summer and I love race season!