Cleveland Marathon


By the end of March, I completed the yoga challenge, and was running about 4k every couple days, with increasing speed and comfort.  The idea of running a marathon again seemed like a real possibility. 

After lots of himming and hawing, I decided to register for the Cleveland Marathon, a race that Runner’s Choice had organized a bus trip for.  My uncle Nick would be running, and Stephanie even decided to take on the challenge of doing the 10k. 

I had about six weeks in order to prepare myself, and I knew I couldn’t do it alone.  I was referred to a wonderful physiotherapist, Cheryl, who helped me to identify some of the major imbalances still in my body and showed me how I could start to even them out.  I have had bad experiences in the past with physio, but this experience really boosted my opinion of how great a resource they can be. 

Between yoga, the physio and a structured running plan, I increased my mileage, and my body was adjusting fairly well.  I still had stiffness and was sore after runs, but not nearly as much as I did a few months earlier.  Cheryl, my PT, was very supportive of my goals for the race, which in turn gave me confidence that I could do it. 

I was only able to get a few long runs in, and thought it was best to do them in Strathroy with John.  That is were my running began, and so I felt it was fitting to return, as if training for my first marathon all over again, which is definitely what it felt like for me. 

John and I were able to catch up on everything; teaching, politics, family and relationships and much more.  I really cherish those long run opportunities to connect with others.  When the story telling, or wisdom-sharing ran out, we would just run; no words were necessary to propel ourselves forward. 

The middle of May came far too quickly, but I was excited and confident for the race.  We met many other runners while on the drive down on the bus.  It seemed, at first, like we were the outsiders, since we did not run with the store’s clubs, but we were welcomed right away and started to get to know a few of the others quite quickly. 

When we arrived in Cleveland, the sun was out, and it was a beautiful day!  Our hotel was really awesome for the most part.  We did have a bit of a toilet malfunction within minutes of entering the room, but the maintenance staff had that fixed up for us in no time! 

A bunch of us all planned to meet after a light dinner, to walk down the street and check out the Indian’s game that evening.  It was not only $8 cheap-seat night, but $1 hotdog night AND fireworks night too!!!! We couldn’t loose!

Since it was Friday night, we didn’t mind having a few drinks and hotdogs, since that would all be out of our system before race morning.  The game was awesome, with the home team winning!  The game was topped off with a wonderful fireworks display, set to music.  We had a really fun night. 

The next day we set out to go to the expo and pick up our race kits.  It was much gloomier than the day before, so we didn’t mind being indoors for most of the afternoon.  We spent a fair bit of time at the expo, checking out all the different products and races.  When we got back to the hotel, we spent some time in the pool and the hot tub.    

Stephanie and I both got our gear organized that evening, hoping to make our morning a little less stressful.  We were both quite nervous about the race, but eventually, we were both able to relax and fall asleep. 

The next morning, a bunch of us all met up in the lobby, and we walked over to the Cleveland Browns Football stadium, where the race was to start from.  There were thousands of people, and unfortunately, the weather was still fairly cool and gloomy.  The 10k started after the marathon, so Stephanie was able to watch us take off before lining up for her run. 

I had made plans to run with Erika, a friend of mine from lulu.  We both wanted to have a buddy to keep the ourselves motivated.  She was hoping for a PB and I was hoping to finish around the same time, so it worked out well.  Not too far after the start, the field started to spread out, and we just eased ourselves into a comfortable groove.  We were running a good pace and we just wanted to maintain it as long as we could, staying relaxed. 

We were able to chat a fair bit, which helped the time pass, as well as play some games.  I tested Erika on the style names and colour codes of all the lulu garments we came across on other runners.  I still knew most of the older ones, but after almost a year of not working there, there were a lot of new ones I was unfamiliar with.  Every once in a while, there would be a stumper, which would take a kilometer or two before Erika came up with the name. 

We really enjoyed the course.  It was a nice variety of the sights that Cleveland had to offer, without being too boring.  The light rain was off and on throughout the race, but was actually helpful in keeping us cool.

Later on, we were both getting tired and we had to dig deep near the finish. With a little bit of a kick across the finish line, Erika got her new PB; just over three hours and forty-five minutes.

A bunch of us all met together in the stadium where I was able to congratulate Stephanie on her 10k, and my uncle on his stellar marathon performance.  Since we were all cold and wet, we made our way back to the hotel fairly quickly, to wash up and get into some warm clothes. 

On the bus-ride home, we had lots of fun.  To make a long story short, what happens on the bus, stays on the bus.  We arrived home fairly late, and I think I was already asleep before my head hit the pillow.

My muscles didn’t feel too bad after the race, and I was quite impressed with how my back held up.  It was a little sore, but it wasn’t that pinched nerve type feeling that I had been experiencing before.  It was interesting that my time was actually very close to that of my first ever marathon.  I really did feel like I was starting all over again.  I am truly grateful for the opportunity to still be able to run!   

© Brian Groot 2020