If you missed it, here is Part 1 of my CLE Recap!

This is the first race recap that has taken me a week to write. I honestly didn’t know where or how to start. Normally I am excited to fill you in on all of the details of race day but because last weekend’s Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon was a different experience for me, I needed time to get my thoughts and emotions in check.

I always say that if you want to experience many emotions at one time: run a marathon. Last weekend solidified that point even more for me.

Race Day

Pre- Race Emotions: Anticipation and excitement. Thinking to myself, “The last 16-weeks have gotten me to this point!” I felt great on race day: mentally and physically. My training leading up to race day went perfect and I had no injuries. I was ready to get that 3:45! Waiting at the start, King James reigning over us, it rained for a few minutes. The rain felt nice but the humidity that came with it had a lot to be desired. I don’t think anyone was prepared for those conditions. Because I felt good about my training, I decided to start at a faster pace. I felt good!

The Start

Miles 1-10: Confident, strong and annoyed. I was feeling great at my current pace and my legs felt strong. However there was this sense of panic as the runners in the 3:35 pace group tried to keep up with the group leader. I got annoyed. I don’t understand how we are all trying to run the same pace but people were trying to elbow each other to get in position. I let that get to me a little bit and I think I ran a little faster just to stay ahead of the pack so I didn’t get tripped up.

We started running around Quicken Loans Arena (home of the Cavs!) and then ran through Playhouse Square, past Progressive Field (still “The Jake” to me!) and then headed west over the Loraine-Carnegie Bridge toward the West Side Market and the streets of Tremont. I felt good and was keeping about a 8:13 pace. The energy of the crowds helped a lot as we weaved through the streets. I loved that every hydration station also had a hose to run through: the cold water felt so good!

I was feeling good and before I knew it, at mile 9,  the half marathoners went right and us marathoners went left to run further west. This was the point when my legs started to feel a little heavy so I backed it off to an 8:35 pace.

Miles 10-13: Discouraged that I had to back off my speed but I still felt strong. When we hit mile 14 on Lake Avenue I was starting to feel a little more tired. Seeing the elite runners on the other side of the road heading back towards the city gave me a little motivation to keep pushing on. I kept my pace around 8:45.

Miles 13-17: Knowing my goal of achieving a PR was not in reach, I was pissed and discouraged. I was thinking to myself, “Training went so well, how could this be happening?!” I told myself that from here on out, it was time to just have fun and just enjoy the race. Unfortunately that never happened.

Miles 17-20: Mentally and physically exhausted. As I was getting closer to miles 17.5 and the turnaround point, it started to rain. The rain felt great but it also brought more humidity with it. This is the point where a lot of runner’s ask themselves, “What the hell was I thinking?!” Laying down in the grass on the side of the road seemed like such a good idea at this point! I knew my mom was probably getting worried waiting for me at the finish line knowing what my goal was: this made me tear up a bit. By this point I was walking for 1-minute every mile and running the rest until I got to a new mile marker. I got two side stitches. In the seven marathons that I have ran, I have never gotten a side stitch.

Miles 20-25: Felt irritable and exhausted. I remember I just wanted to take off my Camelback and throw it on the side of the road. I had trained with it for the last 16-weeks but that little extra weight just seemed unbearable to carry. I remember walking up to a guy holding a hose and he sprayed me down.

Mile 25-26: I have never been so happy to see the Shoreway! Happiness and pride set in. I was happy knowing the end was in site and proud because I did not give up. As miserable as I was, I was going to finish. I even laughed out loud at one point because looking up over the expressway towards the Cleveland skyline, it looked like a scene from the Walking Dead. Runners were just shuffling their feet trying to get up and over the bridge.

Mile 26: I felt relieved and energized after getting off of the expressway knowing I only had .2 miles to go. Normally I like to kick up my speed to the finish but my legs were happy at the pace they were going. I remember yelling to the spectators to make some noise because they were all standing with their arms crossed not saying a word.

The Finish: There is nothing more satisfying than finishing a marathon but I immediately took off my Camelback, happy the race was done and pissed, heartbroken, discouraged (you name it) that I didn’t get my PR. I collected my water and chocolate milk, met my mom and collapsed in the grass. I knew I had many text messages waiting for me to reply to: I didn’t even look at my phone. I finished in 4:21.

I just laid there and replayed the race in my mind and thought of all of the “What ifs.” What if I would’ve gone out slower? What if I would’ve ran “my race”? What if I wouldn’t have run with my pack? What if I would’ve had fun? What if it wouldn’t have been so humid? Of course I know I cannot control that last one.


After the race Sunday and through Monday I was very disappointed. The 6-hour car ride home to Virginia made me think about when I ran my first marathon in 2009. I had no clue what pace I should run or time I should finish a marathon in. I just knew I wanted to finish in under 6-hours. I had no GPS watch or no fancy running clothes. I ran in a regular baseball cap that didn’t wick sweat away. I had fun. I crossed the finish line with tears of joy because I finished (and survived) my first marathon. The announcer even said my name! I became a marathoner and I had fun doing it!

I am thankful that I was able to run and finish my 8th marathon. I’ve come a long way since 2009! Sure I am disappointed that I didn’t get a PR but this race made me a smarter and stronger runner. I learned many lessons from this race that will help me in the future:

- I know to trust my training, but not too much! Even though I was feeling confident, I should have stuck with the pace I trained at.

- I know, for me, pace groups aren’t ideal. I wasn’t able to run “my race” and get into my own rhythm because I was worried about getting tripped up by other runners.

- I know my best race is the race that I have fun in. This is something even coaches told me growing up: if it’s not fun then it’s not worth doing. Running is not by job so I need to keep it fun!

- I’ll never race with a Camelback again. I am already looking at new Fuel Belts and packs from Ultimate Direction. Any suggestions?!

- There will be other races. I came home last Monday and already reset my Run Less Run Faster app for the Philadelphia Marathon. Training starts August 3rd. Lookout Philly!


Right now, I am maintaining my speed and still focused on that 3:45 PR. I have two half marathons coming up (ZOOMA Annapolis this weekend!) and Ragnar in October before tackling Philly in November.

And don’t worry Cleveland…I’ll be back next year!


What have you learned from running a bad race?

I am two weekends late but I am linking up with Tara from Running ‘N’ Reading!

Running 'N' Reading

10 Responses so far.

  1. Kelly says:

    Ugh, so sorry it was such a frustrating race!! This reminds me so much of my first half marathon. I trained so hard, had a good goal in mind, then went out way too fast (“I just feel so strong!”) and ended up walking by mile 6. Ended with a time that I was soooo unhappy about, and I beat myself up for weeks. Said I would never run a half again! And now I’m doing another one this Sunday…haha. I am so glad you’ve already given yourself another marathon to tackle.

    Even though this race felt like a bust, I bet you are going to learn so much from it as you go into your next marathon training. Some races are just meant to be learning experiences, I suppose! And hey, you just completed your EIGHTH marathon…deep down, I hope part of you knows that is nothing to shake a stick at. :)

  2. Way to go learning from a tough experience. Humidity (shudder) and heat – not great for marathoning. Give me cold anytime (even though I’m always freezing and have gotten close to hypothermic pre-race). And Philly getting moved later, I think, should help. Good job on the reset and refocus!

  3. Kelli says:

    First of all, congratulations on completing the marathon. With a long event like that, finishing is not a given no matter what level of fitness you bring in. I was trying to PR at a marathon in Nov 2013 but overdid it on my taper and wasn’t rested enough. So despite a solid training plan I ran my WORST marathon time (and then 3 weeks later smashed an 8K PR, so I know I had the speed). Good luck with your upcoming races!

  4. I’m happy that you stuck through tough times. I’m sure you’re more gracious than disappointed that you had solid training and finished healthy.:) Here’s to the next one!

  5. Sharon says:

    Way to go on finishing the marathon!! Unfortunately sometimes we just have bad days but those bad races just make us stronger. We learn from them and move on. Good luck in Annapolis for Zooma!!

  6. Caroline says:

    Congrats Christine for finishing the marathon. You never gave up; you are not a quitter. I applaud you for doing the best you could under unbearable heat & humidity.

  7. You completely reminded me of why I don’t run with pace groups. My first marathon attempt was with a pace group and that was a disaster for me. My mantra (one of several that I use) is “run your own race”, which I take to mean, run your own pace! Great job and great recap!

  8. HoHo Runs says:

    I have not run a full marathon yet — just halves. But, I do know humidity is a total game changer for me. Kudos for finishing a tough race. You should be very proud. I really appreciated your honest recap too!

  9. Kristen says:

    Congrats on finishing! I know that feeling, but it’s still awesome that you finished and that you’ve come so far in only a few years! I think Philly will be my first marathon in a year or two, so I’m totally going to check out your race recap after you run that!

  10. Kathy says:

    Hey there! I had a tough day out there, too, and in the middle of the marathon I had a bit of a break down when I realized I wasn’t going to meet my time goal (I even called my husband because I wanted him to tell me to quit). But, after it was all over, I’m happy I stuck with it because even though the time was way off my PR, each marathon experience teaches me something new.

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